The latest rage among computer technology pundits is cloud computing. The latest corresponding trend to take advantage of the cloud—internet storage capability and increased bandwidth—is to back up your Mac or PC’s valuable files online, over the internet.
Though the cost of such services has dropped as dramatically as storage costs have dropped, there are obvious advantages and disadvantages. Are you ready to put your Mac’s most valuable files on the internet for safe storage?
Trials and Tribulations
Savvy Mac users (and PC users) know the value of a good file back up plan. Mac360 has long advocated, at a minimum, an external hard disk drive; a perfect clone of your Mac’s hard drive.
Apple’s advent of set-it-and-forget-it in Time Machine makes lost file retrieval even easier, so we often recommend that Mac users both clone their Mac’s hard drive (which makes a bootable back up volume), and use Time Machine on yet another hard drive for quick file back up and retrieval.
The back up strategy and expense should be somewhat related to the value of your Mac’s files. Music, movies, TV shows, music videos, iMovie video clips, documents, all carry a certain amount of value. The greater the value, the more effort should go into backing up your files.
Back Up Problems
Even our minimum back up recommendation has some issues. For example, what if a fire, storm, flood or thief damages your Mac and your hard disk drives? The danger is putting all the back up files in a single location.
Businesses often have file back ups in multiple locations to mitigate the risk of losing important files. To a certain extent, some of that same capability is now available to Mac and PC users in the way of online, cloud-based back up systems.
Are you ready to back up your Mac’s files online? Depending on your needs and requirements, it’s both easy and complex.
Options in the Cloud
All are more similar than different, including their respective price tags. Basically, software on your Mac connects to their service through the internet. You control which files get backed up from your Mac, across the internet to their storage servers, and when.
Backblaze has a plan for $5 per month, per computer for unlimited storage. iDrive gives you up to 2 gigabytes of online storage for free, with a Pro version that starts at $4.95 a month. iBackup starts at $9.95 a month, with annual discounts. MozyHome gives up to 2 gigabytes of storage free and has unlimited backup for $4.95 a month.
These services offer a variety of add on features, including SSL encryption, Blowfish encryption, automatic back ups, scheduled back ups, and software for Mac users which makes the process work like Time Machine. Set it and forget it.
The Problem in Paradise
What’s not to like? If your home or small business has a fast internet connection, backing up critical files, with encryption, scheduling, and auto back up capability, is too good to pass up.
Life should be so easy. There are issues. You can clone your Mac’s hard disk drive in minutes for well less than $100 with an external 500-gigabyte drive.
But don’t expect to back up 500-gigabytes to an online service so easily. Sending that much encrypted data across the internet could day weeks. Yes. Not minutes. Not hours. But days and weeks. It’s a slow process.
Online back ups require another layer of file management and procedural administration. If you can’t back up your whole Mac’s hard disk drive online, and it’s not recommended, then which files should be backed up online, and where are they?
Obviously, the answer will vary person to person and business to business. Even backing up music files may take many tens of gigabytes. Ditto for iPhoto files. Movie files are even larger.
Critical business files may be much smaller and doing daily, incremental back ups is certainly affordable. The solutions above may work nicely for most businesses, but not for everyone, especially if your back up requirements entail hundreds of gigabytes.