Backing up to an external hard drive is considered a local backup. This protects you from data loss or data corruption. However, what if your local backup goes missing or suffers a hardware failure?
This is where the Cloud steps in.
First off, what is the Cloud? For the most part, it’s just a buzzword for an accessible computer network, whether in your home, office, or on the Internet.
Note that the Cloud is mostly used as a misnomer for Cloud service, which is a technology service or set of services that exists on the Cloud. Think of it like how Kleenex is commonly used to inaccurately describe all types of facial tissue.
A very good example of a ubiquitous Cloud service is email. Since your email exists on the Internet and you access it through your Web browser or an email app, it is, by definition, a Cloud service.
So why would you use a Cloud backup service? Because local backups are sometimes not enough. In fact, it can sometimes replace local backups.
Unlike local backup, software for Cloud backup is not included with Windows or OS X.
So what are your options for Cloud backup? Two very highly acclaimed solutions are BackBlaze and CrashPlan. Both have their pros and cons, but the focus here is on how each can serve you best based on your requirements.
Some features to consider are:
- Restore process. How easy is it to restore your files? Some apps make it easy, and some make it a chore.
- Cost. Most of these solutions have similar price points, but make sure to do the math before putting your money down.
- Backup speed. Some apps take longer than others to back up your files than others. This all comes down to smart computer programming from the developer, not your hard-earned dollar.
- Backup space. How much space does your data occupy? How much space will you need? All of the options presented here offer unlimited space. However, you should beware of file size limitations imposed by other solutions not mentioned below.
BackBlaze (backblaze.com) is quite possibly the easiest Cloud backup service you will ever need. The application to install on your computer is small and fast. Best of all, it’s the cheapest solution of the two, coming in at $5 per month, or $50 per year. When you want a no-nonsense, turn-key solution, this is your choice. However, its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness, so people with specific needs should look elsewhere if they need more features. The biggest caveat is the restore process – it’s inconvenient, especially if you have a lot of files in different locations. Also, there is no local backup, and the cost grows quite high if you have multiple computers in your household.
CrashPlan (crashplan.com), on the other hand, is made for people who need more control over their backup options. While it can be daunting to a newcomer, it can be set up with careful scrutiny. Just like BackBlaze, once you set it up, you’ll never have to do it again and backups occur automagically. The biggest strengths are: the ability to back up to other computers, including ones at your office or family member’s house; an easy restore process that puts BackBlaze to shame; and a lower annual cost when you have multiple computers in your household. The caveats of CrashPlan are the learning curve and its bloated amount of options for those who need a simple solution.
So, if you decide to go with a cloud backup solution, why would you still need local backup? The answer: faster data restoration. While both CrashPlan and BackBlaze offer restore options, they are highly dependent on how much data you need to restore, and how fast your Internet connection is. Think of Cloud backup as a contingency for your local backup.
As everybody knows, your computers and attached devices won’t always last forever, so leveraging the Cloud gives you access to resources you wouldn’t normally be able to afford on your own. The smart consumer will take advantage of both options.