Posts Tagged Backup

Cloud Backup or External Hard Drive?

Over the last couple of weeks the computer gremlins have invaded our household, throwing up the ‘blue screen of death

Clouds over Tahoe HDR #1

Image by Bill Strong via Flickr

on the desktop PC and various funnies/frozen screens on my daughters’ laptops. This made me nervous and I decided we needed to have a proper back up copy of everything. I’ve mentioned the importance of regular backups before on this blog (see here) but I’ve still been bumbling along with a memory stick for documents and the occasional backup of photos to CD when we remember to do it.

So off we went to buy an external hard drive. But the nice man in the shop talked us out of it and into buying a Cloud back up instead.  This would mean we could access our data from any PC, it would be equivalent to an ‘off-site’ backup and my elder daughter wouldn’t have to cart yet another bit of kit off to university with her. It seemed a great idea so we bought it and set it to save everything that was on my elder daughter’s laptop – music, photos, university work etc.

It took hours and hours and hours and sent us way over our internet usage allowance (I suppose if I’d thought about it I would have realised this would be the case). Then we had trouble trying to determine whether the scheduled hourly scan & save for changed documents was actually happening. I tried phoning the Cloud support line but a machine told me all queries must be logged via the website.

We concluded the Cloud was a bad idea and went back to the original, external drive idea for the other PCs. It was so much easier! A few ‘copy and pastes’ and everything was saved and we could easily see it was there.

I’ve previously used the limited free cloud storage provided by Dropbox (and recommended by Simon Whaley) for some of my documents and will carry on using it. But it seems to me that if you have large amounts of pictures or music then an external hard drive is the better choice (especially since they don’t tend to change very often and it’s easy to remember to back them up each time you download a new bunch of photos or an album).

Does anyone else have experience of Cloud backup – am I the only one that struggled with it?

 

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Methods of BackingUp Work

Image of an OCZ Rally2 USB Flash Drive. Taken ...

Image via Wikipedia

Do you make regular backup copies of your work?

We all know how temperamental computers can be – one minute they’re working fine and then the next they freeze up and refuse to do anything. Usually the ‘turn it off and back on again’ method brings the machine back to life and everything is hunky-dory again but just occasionally the PC is dead and has taken with it folders full of precious work that can no longer be accessed – unless you have a backup copy.

Some of the more common backup methods to consider are:

  • External Hard Drives – this is a similar type of hard drive to that found inside your PC but it is mounted in a separate enclosure. It can be connected to your PC via a USB port or wirelessly. If you have an Apple Mac, an automatic wireless backup can be provided by a Time Capsule
  • USB Stick – very small, easy to use, portable device that plugs into a USB port – but they are known to have a limited lifespan.
  • CD/DVD – CD-R, DVD-R, and DVD+R can be written to only once but there are other types of disk that can be erased/rewritten.
  • Online Storage Facility – this allows storage of data on a 3rd Party server. This may require a manual copy of the selected files from PC to the server or there may be the option to schedule an automatic backup. An example of this is the BT Digital Vault.   
  • Email – set up a free hotmail account and periodically email work to this account. If your own computer is unusable, this email account and your documents will be accessible from any other PC. 

But before choosing a backup method there are a couple of questions that you should ask yourself:

  • Do you need a backup copy kept away from your home? An external disk drive sitting next to your PC will go up in flames with the rest of the house.
  • Do you regularly work on more than one PC – i.e. do you need an easy way of transferring your work in progress from one computer to another?
  • Are you saving a finished piece of work that won’t be touched again or one that is being constantly updated? 

As a computer professional I feel that I should be using a failsafe hi-tech backup method but actually I use a USB stick on a daily basis and periodically email my larger pieces of work to myself.

What backup methods does anyone else use? And have you ever had a computer disaster and lost data (or successfully recovered it from backup)?

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