There are many advantages to remote, online backups
It's a dangerous world out there. On Oahu we not only have storms to consider but there's also the danger of tsunami. We all got a wake-up call recently with the false alarm for a tsunami following the earthquake near Tonga.
Of course, even without the threat of natural catastrophes, I'm always reminding you in this column that it's not a matter of if your computer's drive will crash, it's a matter of when.
To counter these threats to your data, I feel very strongly that part of your backup insurance policy should be a regular routine that includes offline storage of your most important files. I'm not talking just about business records such as Quicken accounting files or tax records. Some of my family's most precious memories are locked up in digital photos that I want to keep for my kids.
Online backups are not meant to replace an external or an extra drive in your computer. I'd look at them as an insurance policy. If your house burns down or a power surge fries your drive, you'll still have those baby pictures.
To make sure this happens, you data should be stored in a different location--maybe even a different state.
Of course, you could do that yourself by backing up your data on a tape drive and storing it in a safe deposit box somewhere, but that's time consuming and frankly, a pain.
What else do I like a about online backups? With a remote backup you won't hassle changing tapes, labeling CDs or whatever. Naturally you're going to need a high-speed Internet access via cable or DSL,but most serious businesses have that nowadays. If you travel a lot, offsite storage can be handy. It doesn't matter where you are -- you can access data just by logging onto the Web.
Of course remote backup is not without some disadvantages. Restoration of data can be slow. Of course, if you have a tremendous amount of data, you might have to get your stuff shipped back on a tape or a disk. It's also possible that your remote backup service provider might go belly up.
There are a number of companies that have received good reviews in the trade press.
Acpana Data Deposit Box (www.datadepositbox.com) has a pay-for-as-much-as-you-use pricing scheme. It's handy for people who don't have an enormous amount of stuff. At 1 cent per megabyte per month, it's not going to break the bank. They have a nifty "set-it-and-forget-it desktop client that automates the process and does it in the background.
Xdrive (www.xdrive.com) has also received good reviews. It costs $9.95 per month or $99.95 per year for 5 gigs of online storage. Xdrive also has an easy to use interface. The only complaint I've seen is that the service can have slow uploads.
Oceanic Time Warner offers SmartDrive Backup (smartdrive.twcbiz.com) which is available to business customers. It comes with a program that you can set up to automatically back up files or directories up to three times a day. Prices start at $4.95 per month for 100 MB.
Whatever you use, saving a copy of your work is an absolute must, and backing up to a remote location is even better.
is general manager of digital phone at Oceanic Time Warner Cable. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org