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Online Vs Traditional Backup

Posted By : of Data Doctors on October 12, 2016

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What are your thoughts between an external backup drive and an online backup service for my backups.

This question was answered on October 12, 2016. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

In my more than 20 years providing data recovery services, it’s obvious that there’s as much confusion about backing up critical data as there has ever been.

Our data recovery division sees the results of this confusion on a daily basis as most of the conversations start with ‘I thought…’

The concept of backing up isn’t the confusing part, it’s the implementation where most people end up failing to protect themselves.

External Drive: Pros and Cons
One of the most common backup methods is to connect an external hard drive to your computer and setup a backup program to make copies.

Unfortunately, far too many people buy what is labeled a backup drive, connect it to their computer and start saving their important files directly to the drive.

Backup implies that there is more than one copy, which isn’t the case when files are saved directly to the external drive.

Another mistake with external drives we see is that no automatic scheduling is setup, so it’s on the user to remember to manually run a backup every time.  As time goes on, the ‘I’ll get around to it tomorrow’ behavior takes over and it gets forgotten.

‘My computer was brand new, so I didn't think the hard drive would crash’ is another common statement we hear.

Another potential issue with the external drive configuration, especially with laptops is that it needs to be plugged in when the automated backup tries to run.

External backups aren’t great at protecting against theft, fire, flood or the growing threat of ransomware because what impacts your computer also impacts your backup drive.

Online Backup: Pros and Cons
When high-speed always-on Internet connections became commonplace, pushing your critical data to the cloud become practical.

Unlike most external hard drive backups, online backups are automatically encrypted so that even if someone gains access to your data, it’s not directly readable.

More: (Are online backup services safe?  

Online backup companies are also in the cyber-security business, so they’re more likely to be aware of emerging threats than the average user trying to protect themselves at home.

With external backups, there is a one-time cost, while online backup services have annual fees, so over time, it’ll will cost more to use an online backup.

Online backup services provide superior protection against ransomware because they aren’t directly attached to your computer, which doesn’t allow the malware to infect your backup files.

Most online services also include file ‘versioning’ meaning it keeps multiple copies of changed files, which can be really helpful when you accidentally over-write a file and don’t realize it for a while.

3-2-1 Backup Strategy
The very best backup strategy incorporates copies of your data on at least 2 different devices with at least 1 of them off-site.

If you’re really interested in protecting your critical data, your best bet is to use both an external hard drive and online backup service, like Carbonite (

Data recovery services can get really expensive and sophisticated ransomware encryption is unbreakable forcing many to pay the ransom, so having extra layers of protection can save you a lot of money and heartache.

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Posted by of Data Doctors on October 12, 2016

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