Mar 28

Ways to Backup – Online Vs Offline backups

I am someone that does two different kinds of backups and wanted to share my experiences with both backup methods and the pros and cons of both in this article. Hopefully this article will help when deciding how to backup your important data.

Carbonite Online Backup

I have been using carbonite for about 4 months now after deciding that I wanted an alternative to backing up to an external hard drive. I primarily use it for my business so the amount of data is relatively low. Although I was a little apprehensive about using ANY kind of online backup for fear of privacy issues and and the chance of data been lost I did a lot of research into what backup solution I wanted to use.

Reasons I choose carbonite (Pros)

The price for carbonite was good value I thought for unlimited space at only £41.95 a year.

The software automatically backups the files every time they are modified or created. This gave me piece of mind that that new document I created an hour ago is already backed up.

The other thing that swayed me was that they use the same encryption that banks use to protect your data.

Finally I just wanted something that would run in the background without me noticing it and that is exactly what carbonite does.

The data can be accessed from anywhere and on multiple devices

The Downside

Although not directly affecting me at the moment there is a limit on the file size that can be backed up and that is 4GB. For the majority of people this will not make a difference but it is a limit.

It is limited to one PC so if you have multiple computers you want to backup you would need multiple subscriptions which can get expensive depending on the number of computers.

The only other downside in my opinion is the time it can take to do the initial backup. Although I expected it to take a while it took a lot longer than I expected even with only 350mb to Backup.

Offline Backup

External Hard drive image, USB

When most people look at how to backup there data they look at USB stick and external hard drives. This is the most common way to back and a method I still use to backup my data.

I still do offline back ups at home. I have a 500GB external hard drive that backups my data on a weekly basis (incremental). An incremental backup only backups new files or files that have been changed.
You can also get good reliable free backup software for windows 7 like easeus Todo to use along side you external drive if the drive does not come with back up software.


The Pros

It tends to be much faster to backup to a USB key or External hard drive. With the rolling out of USB 3.0 hard drives and devices this has become even quicker taking a matter of seconds to backup large amounts of data.

It is also the preferred method for large backups simply because of the speed.

If you have multiple computers this again is the more cost effective way of approaching back ups as an external drive with a capacity of about 500GB will cost about £70.00

You know where your data is at all times.

The Cons

Regardless of the software you use it stills requires the device to be connected to your computer to backup your files. This includes both USB keys and Hard drives.

The other con is some of these backup programs can use a lot of resources and it is not uncommon for people simply to disable the or pause them and then forget to re-enable them.

We also tend to keep these devices in the same building or room as our computers. If there was a fire or theft we could lose both sets of data.

Other Backup methods

There are obviously other backup methods available such as DVDs but I personally think this is a method that is on the way out due to the time it takes to do a backup to disc and also because of how fragile they can be.

For me personally it is difficult to choose which one is best when it comes to online backups Vs offline backups. They both have positives but both have there negatives.

I would recommend carbonite or a similar service like drop box simply because of its low cost and ease of use. I don’t think personally I would use it for large amounts of data like music collections but I do think for relatively small backups (under 10GB) it is an ideal and secure backup solution that needs the minimum of effort.

I think looking to the future at my backup methods I will be using combination of both, at least until we see faster upload speeds in the UK.