Online backup might be the way forward, but it's not there yet

Whether, as part of my job, messing around with Files on Ovi, or using Syncplicity to backup parts of my Mac, or listening to TWiT and hearing of their new sponsor, Carbonite, I keep running into the notion that the best way to back up your computer is online. The concept's not that new and these are only three of over a dozen possibilities, but I'd like to sound a note of caution and sanity.

You see, most of us are on asynchronous broadband links. ASDL, to use the full acronym. What this means is that home broadband is great for downloading stuff and not brilliant and uploading it. Upload speeds from the average connected home are or the order of 128kbps. This is just about OK for uploading short video clips to YouTube and fine for syncing documents up a web server, but it's utterly inadequate for being the basis of an all-in online backup solution. 

The likes of Carbonite (and I'm not just picking on them, I've heard the same idea from others and from several should-know-better bloggers) say that you can just select folders of favourite pics, music and videos and they'll be spirited seamlessly up into the cloud, fully backed up.

Oh no, they won't. What'll happen is that you'll tag the aforementioned folders and they'll start uploading. And, three days later, they'll still be uploading. And in the meantime the saturation of all your upstream bandwidth has meant that everyone in your family has been just about locked out of doing anything at all online.

Don't be taken in by the hype unless you really do have a lightning fast non-ASDL connection - by all means back up your document folders and anything really important online, but stay clear of your media - that 80GB of JPGs, MP3s and MP4s is far, far, better backed up locally - to another (plug-in, removeable?) hard disk or similar.

Trust me.


James said…
Totally agree. It's not there yet, and to be honest, I think it may well take another 6 years or so.
Anonymous said…
Agreed, I wouldn't dream of backing up my music or video (my MP3's are already backed up on portable storage, called an Ipod), but pictures are vital, they're our family history, so if it takes 3 days to do your first backup, then so be it.

If your house burns down (God forbid) I'd bet that your removable storage will be 'safely' stored in another room?
Another room? No, what would be the point in that? My backups are either in my car or at another premises. 8-)

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