As my trusty laptop of many years begins to develop new quirks and habits in the winter of its life, I’m starting to consider the possibility that it could one day just die. It’s been known to happen. And while I back it up periodically on an external hard drive, I certainly don’t do it as often as I should and therefore I’m starting to feel strongly that it’s time I bit the bullet and began online backup.
In case this is something you’re unfamiliar with, it is exactly what it sounds like: It creates a backup of all of your computers files and folders into The Cloud. And while for most purposes, copying your data to disks or an external hard drive works just as well, there are some major advantages to using online backup instead.
First of all, you don’t have to remember to do it. For those of us who still sometimes forget to brush our teeth in the morning, this is not a trivial matter. Most online backup programs automatically refresh their backed up data once a day and some do it even more frequently as you make changes to your files. Plus you can set manually set up additional backups to run whenever you want without having to plug in the external hard drive. This of course also leads to a less cluttered desk and fewer wires hanging around.
The fact that you aren’t relying on a physical object that sits next to your computer also means that you have much higher security. Many of the things that would destroy the files you have saved on the computer are things that will also mean the loss of an external hard-drive, such a fire, flooding or theft. This is especially true since you are likely to store your computer and your external hard drive close together for the sake of convenience and to help you remember to back up your data.
The biggest downside to online backup is probably price. Rather than the one-time price of an external hard drive you will be paying a monthly fee that can really add up over time. However, consider it insurance. For the sake of my financial records, my work documents and my years and years worth of family photos (which I’ve never printed out or done anything with) I think that it’s worth it.