[AI] Tools to back up your data

pradeep banakar pradeepsocialwork at gmail.com
Sun Aug 29 13:22:44 EDT 2010

Tech - The Times of India


Tools to back up your data

WASHINGTON: Let's face it: If you have to remember to back up your
data, you won't. Any backup solution that does not eliminate the human
factor is bound to fail.

So put away your external hard drives and thumb drives that you bought
so that you could back up your data regularly, and read on to learn
about some solutions that will take the chore of backing up from you
-- and, in the process, make sure that your data is regularly secured.

Windows Home Server
Windows Home Server (WHS) has been out for several years now, but few
people have even heard of it. That's a shame because it provides the
kind of hands-off, automated backup that most Windows users need.

WHS is an operating system, not a device. It's based on Microsoft's
rock-solid Windows 2003 Server operating system, which is still in
production on millions of servers -- computers that run websites,
transport email, and perform dozens of file streaming functions --
around the world. WHS, though, takes the geeky foundation of Server
2003 and adds functionality aimed squarely at home users - most
significantly, automated backup of all household computers. The only
requirements to use WHS are an in- home network - which many already
have through their wireless broadband or DSL router - and a healthy
fear of losing data.

The easiest way to acquire WHS is by purchasing a product with the
operating system pre-installed, such as HP's MediaSmart Server. These
devices, which are essentially small computers designed to be run and
operated without a keyboard or monitor attached, are relatively
inexpensive, starting at about half the cost of a full-fledged desktop
machine. Four hundred dollars, for example, gets you a MediaSmart
Server with plenty of horsepower and a 1 terabyte drive to start out.

Or, if you have an old computer around, you can opt to build your own
Windows Home Server by buying a copy of the operating system itself
for less than $100.

Once set up, WHS asks you to install a small client application on
every computer in your house. That little application allows WHS to
communicate with your machines. From that point on, you're largely out
of the picture. Each night - typically very late, when you're sleeping
- WHS backs up every computer in your house, even replicating data, if
you choose, so that it is still salvageable if a drive in the WHS or
MediaSmart Server fails.

WHS does more than backup. It also provides secure, web-based, remote
control access to all of the machines in your home, and you can set it
up to stream audio and video to connected computers and other media
devices. But it is Windows Home Server's core function of automated
backups that should put it high on the list of any Windows user
currently relying on a human-centric backup procedure.

Online backup
Take the concept of Windows Home Server -- a hands-off backup device
that communicates with your computer via a small client application
that runs in the background -- and apply it to the internet. What do
you have? Automated online backup.

Backing up your data online addresses a significant concern of any
household-based backup solution. If something were to happen to the
physical box on which your backups reside - theft, for example, or
loss due to fire or some other disaster - your data would be lost.
With your data backed up over the internet, you've eliminated that

The trouble with online backup is that it's slow. Even if you have a
speedy broadband internet connection, the rate at which an online
backup service uploads your files for safekeeping, or downloads them
for restoring files, may be capped. And other factors may hamper
backup speed as well. For example, most services will throttle or stop
backups if you're actively using your computer.

Still, keeping a copy of your important files off-site - which is what
happens when you use an online backup service - is a cornerstone of
responsible data maintenance. But because of the speed issues and
because some backup services will not provide you with unlimited
storage space, you'll probably want to restrict the data that you back
up in this manner to only your most critically important files.

So which online backup services are worth investigating? Backblaze,
Mozy, Carbonite, SugarSync, CrashPlan, iDrive, Dropbox, ZumoDrive are
all well regarded. All of these services support Windows. Many also
support Mac computers. CrashPlan is available for all platforms,
including Linux.

Most of these services offer a free version that limits the amount of
data you back up to 2GB. Paid versions of many either eliminate the
storage limitation entirely or provide some hefty amount of storage
space - from 150 to 500GB - that should satisfy the backup needs of
most. Backblaze, Mozy, Carbonite, and CrashPlan are the services that
offer paid versions with unlimited storage.

CrashPlan and Carbonite, in particular, offer some unique services
that are important to frequent users of online backup. CrashPlan
offers the ability to simultaneously back up data to another local
computer, which makes restoration of data much faster than with the
other online services. Carbonite integrates seamlessly with Windows

For Windows users, having the ability to initiate a backup simply by
right-clicking a folder can be very convenient. Mozy should be singled
out for its user-friendly software.

The cost of the paid versions of these services varies, and many offer
either monthly or annual payment plans. Expect to pay anywhere from
$4.5 per month to $15 per month. Annual plans typically work out to a
bit less per month. If your business or personal life depends in part
on the safety of your data, however, that's a small price to pay for
peace of mind.

More information about the AccessIndia mailing list