Should You Trust Your Data To The Cloud?

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If you don’t back up your data on a regular basis, we say “good luck.” You may not want to think about this but the odds are that at some point, your hard disk drive will fail or your computer will crash for some other reason. You will then have to wave bye-bye to all those important documents, precious family photos, and that music you’ve spent years collecting. This is why you should consider using an online storage service using “The Cloud”

Backup has come a long way, baby

I can remember a time when you had to backup on floppy disks, Zip drives or tape drives.  But then the cost of hard disk drives fell to the point where it became economically feasible to back up to an external drive.

The pros and cons of hard drive backup

One of the biggest pros of an external hard drive (HDD) is that they’re cheap. Today, you can buy one with a capacity of 1.5TB (terrabytes) for less than $130. Plus, an external HDD is reasonably portable, so you could back up all your data from one computer and transfer it to another. However, you will need to also buy backup software. Backing up your entire computer can be very time consuming.  And you may not be able to do versioning or restore to an earlier version of a document,

Along came “The Cloud”

Many experts say that a better way to back up and store your data is into a cloud – a fancy way of saying that you store your data offsite on someone else’s servers. Using a cloud for online backup storage offers a number of advantages, not the least of which is that it keeps your files safe – completely away from your home or office. If you have a fire, tornado, earthquake or flood that severely damages your house or office, no problem. Your data is safe and secure – maybe a thousand miles away.

The advantages of the cloud online storage

Storing your movies, pictures, music and other important data to the cloud offers some other important benefits. Cloud storage companies like RackSpace, ZipCloud and Carbonite give you the software you need to manage your data and backups. As a rule, the software is very easy to install and usually works in the background so that you’re not even aware of it when your data is being backed up.

Most of the software you get with cloud online storage services works automatically. It’s set and forget. Once you install it, the application will automatically back up any new files you’ve created or any you’ve modified without you having to remember to do anything. Plus, cloud storage software usually offers versioning. This is really helpful if you accidentally delete a file as it allows you to quickly find and restore an earlier version. – so you would lose maybe just today’s work and not a file it took you months to create.

Access your files anywhere and anytime in the cloud

Cloud online storage makes it easier to manage your files because you can access them from anywhere from any computer that’s Internet connected, including both desktops and laptops. In fact, with some of the cloud storage companies, you can manage your files from a cell phone, iPod touch or a tablet.

When you choose cloud backup, you never have to worry about buying and maintaining any hardware. The cloud backup company takes care of all this and, as noted before, keeps your data safe and secure on an external site.

Free trial

Most of the cloud storage companies offer free trials. Sign up for one of these and you’ll learn a lot about cloud backup and storage and how you feel about it before you have to make any commitment. That way, if it turns out you don’t like cloud storage for any reason, you can cancel the service and won’t have lost a cent.

JustCloud.com Free Trial

ZipCloud.com Free Trial

The cons of cloud online storage

Of course, there are also cons to cloud backup and storage. You cannot access your data unless you can get on the Internet, plus you need a relatively fast connection for your downloads and uploads to work efficiently.

When you put your critical data into a cloud, you’re depending on a third party over which you have no control. Technically speaking, they can do whatever they want with your data. So, be sure to read the company’s terms and privacy policy before you sign up for it services.

A cloud storage company can shut down at any time and with little notice. This could happen due to financial problems or other unforeseen circumstances such as an earthquake or fire.

How much does the cloud online storage cost?

There are several plans available from all the cloud online storage sites. You can get cloud backup services for as low as $4 to $10 a month.

Suspenders and a belt

If you are really concerned about the safety of your data, there is a third alternative that some people choose. It’s to have both an external hard drive and cloud backup, which is sort of like wearing both suspenders and a belt. In this case, you back up your data first onto a hard drive and then, maybe nightly or weekly, to the cloud. This is sort of the best of both words in that you have your backup data where you can quickly access it without having to connect to the Internet, yet it is also safe and secure offsite.

Is cloud online storage for you?

There once was a television commercial that ended with the line, “try it, you’ll like it.”  When it comes to cloud storage, the line could be “try it, you might like it.” All you have to do is choose one of the cloud backup companies such as Zipcloud, Rackspace, JustCloud or Carbonite, sign up for the free trial, download and install the free software and give it a try.

You might love it or you could discover that sending your precious data off into thin air is just too scary. But one way or the other, you’ll know about cloud online storage and it won’t have cost you one thin dime.

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