Your principal computer backup options for home PCs involve making local duplicates onto CDs, DVDs or external hard drives, or using online systems to upload files and folders to a backup service. In this article I’ll take a look at how local and online solutions compare in order to show where some of the benefits and drawbacks actually lie.
Burning CDs has always been the easy way to do a laptop data backup. But the advent of cheap external hard drives means that you can now use synchronization software to easily clone files between numerous systems. These type of local computer backup options give you the flexibility to pick and choose which files to upload and when. You are able to more closely protect your files since they’re not being stored on the Internet. They can also prove to be very economical to run as hardware and software prices have decreased massively.
The drawbacks with local computer backup options have always centered around the human interaction. Basically, the PC owner needs to manually start a backup process by burning CDs or run the synchronization software. This opens the possibility of forgetting to do backups.
By contrast, online computer backup options try to automate as much of the process as possible. These are usually commercial services that provide you with a client program to select which folders get uploaded to their backup servers over the Internet. The client applications can be automated and scheduled to run on a regular basis so that backups are being continuously updated. Even if you don’t have your laptop with you, you can still access the files via their web interface (which will be password protected).
These types of solutions are only useful for laptop data backups of smaller quantities of files. Doing a complete ghost image would be unfeasible. In addition the monthly rental costs of backup server space to make is a lot more expensive in the long run than local solutions.
However, for very sensitive files that absolutely must be backed up, using an online solution can provide a service that is welcomed, especially for those forgetful folks.