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Online Backups are The Best Insurance Policy for Your Data

In an era of terabyte storage we tend to pile up gigabytes of data on our hard drives for months and even years on end while failing to think about the possibility of losing the data. Just about everyone knows keeping backups is important, but this is one of those things that easily slips the mind in the midst of a busy life. If nothing happens for a long time we might get lazy, comfortable and.. unprepared.

While it is possible that a disaster will never strike, and that your hard drive will happily keep spinning until it's time to buy a new computer relying on this as if it's a sure thing is quite foolhardy. There are so many things that could go wrong. Here are just some of the possibilites.

Hard drive failure

As awesome as modern hard drives may be, capable of spinning without issue for many years, with manufacturers readily guaranteeing up to three years, they are far from perfect. You've probably heard the stories from your friends and family of hard drives just failing overnight. In fact, even the most reliable hard drive makers have published failure rates. In a recent study by an online backup provider Backblaze they noted an average lifetime of the most reliable hard drive they found to be only 2.1 years, with a failure rate of 0.9 percent. Suffice it to say, chances are good your drive will eventually fail.

Even Solid State Disk drives aren't immune from failure. They use about the same fundamental technology as USB flash drives and memory, and you know those can get screwed as well.

When it fails it's certainly going to be a relief if you know you've got your data backed up safe and sound somewhere.

Theft

I don't want to scare you, but it happens. You come home one day only to see your doors kicked in, and a bunch of your valuable items gone. One of them might be your computer, and as you're left mourning the loss of the machine it sooner or later occurs to you: "My data! All those family photos, videos, documents, all gone!". Well, not quite, if you've got a backup. I know it sound cheesy, but that's how it is.

And yes there's also that "little" issue of the thief having access to your personal and potentially sensitive data, but data security and encryption on your hard drive may be a subject for another time.

Hackers

Another seemingly unlikely but possible scenario is your computer getting commandeered by a hacker who, for whatever reason, may delete some or all of your data. The likelihood of this increases if you're somewhat of a public person, known to possess valuable information, or if you've made some dangerous enemies for whatever reason. But even if you're not a likely target, you never know!

Viruses

Speaking of malicious hackers one way you can become their victim even if you're not specifically targeted is by having your computer fall victim to a particularly nasty virus. Some of them will do criminal things such as holding your computer hostage for a ransom where they threaten to erase your entire hard drive if you don't pay up. If you can't cough up the money or refuse to pay a criminal your data may very well be gone. Others might not even offer you a way out before corrupting or deleting your data.

Accidents

Even if none of the above unlucky scenarios were to occur there is still a yet another potential threat to your data: you. Accidental deletions to your data are known to happen. It happens to everyone. Besides deletions you may also accidentally inflict harm to your hard drive that may result in its failure.

Get Covered

This subtitle sounds as if I'm talking about some sort of an insurance policy, and yes indeed that's what having a backup solution amounts to doesn't it?

There are many ways to get covered. One way is to maintain local backups on a second hard drive (internal or external), a bunch of optical discs (DVDs, Blu-Rays etc.), USB flash drives, and so on. This is certainly better than nothing, and depending on how you go about it this could even work out well. However, besides the effort it takes to maintain such backups, it also doesn't cover for all possible scenarios. You would still be vulnerable to theft and accidents for example, and if you're so unlucky, even a failure of both storage devices simultaneously.

Another solution, the blessing of a networked world we are living in, are online backups. The main potential inconvenience, depending on your upload speed, is the initial upload of your data. If it really takes too long one way to resolve that is to just upload and backup what you can't afford to lose. For example if you've got a bunch of ripped movies you already watched, or software and games installed, those can be replaced. If your upload speed is great, it's probably good to just backup all of your data.

There are many online solutions for backups. I've found a comparison of the top 5 online backup services that may be worth considering. Most cost very little per month, and some are even free, and all of them have free trials. They all have unlimited bandwidth and bandwidth control, auto backups and continuous backups, great encryption, support for Windows and Mac, email and forum support. While all support downloading backed up files, some will even ship you a hard drive or a flash drive with your files on it.

Considering these solutions it's easy to insure yourself against data loss, and feel that much more secure in knowing that no matter what happens files that are important to you wont be lost.