Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.
Cloud backup vs. backing up to an external drive isn't really a debate. You may want to do both!
Rather than using an external hard drive, what's your opinion and/or advice about backing up to the Cloud such as with Carbonite? Wouldn't that be the simplest way? Also since I have backup discs of my operating system and factory settings, is it necessary to also backup my OS? I'd really rather not trust an external unit, which could be damaged just like my laptop. I'm running Windows 7 Home, IE9 on a Dell laptop.
In this excerpt from Answercast #101, I look at the differences between cloud backup and backing up to a local external disk.
Well, it really depends on what it is you're attempting to accomplish. Cloud-based backup is fine with two caveats.
One is you need to make absolutely sure you understand what it is and is not backing up.
Generally, the cloud-based backup will backup your data files. In fact it will backup only the data files that it finds in or under "My Documents." For many people, that's plenty. For many, it's a surprise because it's not backing up your entire computer; it's backing up your data.
The other thing you need to realize is that it's going to use your internet connection. It will depend on how much data it has to upload (and it will be the upload speed that matters here, not the download speed).
Depending on how much data it needs to upload to perform a backup, that first backup can take a really long time. Even incremental backups (or subsequent backups that happen after that) can still take a long time if your internet connection is slow and the amount of data that needs to be backed up is large.
So be very aware of that. Like I said, many people end up being surprised by the upload requirements of cloud-based backup - and this is true of things like Carbonite, Jungle Disc, Mozy, and a bunch of others. They're focused on backing up your data and only your data because backing up your entire computer would simply take too long.
Now, should you backup your entire computer? I believe you should. But it's a decision that you need to make.
I absolutely love and rely on image backups, followed by incremental image backups happening nightly, to backup my computer if anything goes wrong for any reason.
Yes, you could absolutely go back to factory settings. But then you're also faced with reinstalling all of your applications, reconfiguring all of your applications, all of the customizations and settings that you've made over time, recovering your data from your backup and then hoping... hoping that everything you needed backed up actually was.
By doing an incremental image backup of your machine nightly (I happen to do a full backup once a month and incremental nightly), you're guaranteed that what is backed up on whatever media you choose (external hard disk, or another machine on your network, or a network attached storage), everything is there.
Every file on you computer is there. There is no need to worry; there's no need to guess.
So, my recommendation - be aware of what it is that happens and that is different between Cloud backup and traditional computer-based backup.
They absolutely each have their role; they can be used in conjunction.
For example, it might be a nice compromise to instead do an image backup
to an external drive once a month and do your Carbonite daily. But realize that
they are two very different kinds of backup and that living without a backup of
your computer can actually have some surprising costs should something actually
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
Next from Answercast 101 - How do I move all emails of a certain year to a folder?
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