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Data Backup: Cloud Computing vs. On-Site Options

Is your data backed up? What are your options? On-site or in the cloud? Take a few minutes now to prevent a lifetime of headaches later!

How important is your data? If a hard drive crashed, would you be able to complete your next project? Or review last year’s payment records? Or even be able to access client contact information? Your business runs on the data stored on your PCs but, chances are, you’re not taking adequate steps to protect them.

You’re not alone in this — 92% of adult computer users do not do regular backups. However, it’s just a matter of time before a catastrophic data loss occurs. Luckily, backing up your data is easier than ever. Both on-site and cloud-based options allow you to quickly and easily protect your data and join the ranks of the safe and sound 8%.

Choosing the Right Backup Method for You

On-site backups are hard drives or other backup devices that are directly connected to your computers. Cloud-based backups are servers that connect remotely to your computer through the Internet. Both services provide software that can be set up to back up data manually or automatically. Each type of backup has both advantages and disadvantages.

On-Site Backup Pros:

  • Cost: Hard drives are inexpensive, so you can purchase plenty of backup space and ensure that you have room to expand without additional costs.
  • Installation: Hard drives are easy to install, and usually come with software designed to make backing up your data easy and automatic.
  • Speed: On-site backups are much faster than online storage solutions. This method is ideal for archiving large amounts of data.

On-Site Backup Cons:

  • Security: A hard drive can easily be stolen. If there is financial or other sensitive data on it that is not encrypted, this can cause significant problems.
  • Damage: Because it’s in the same location as you or your office, should you or your office suffer a natural disaster all of your data may become irretrievable.
  • Virus protection: If you have an undetected virus on your computer, it will probably get backed up to the hard drive, thereby keeping it alive for as long as your backup is around.

Cloud-Based Backup Pros:

  • Backups of backups: Your data is always stored off-site and is redundantly copied to other servers in different locations. If one goes down, your data can be retrieved from elsewhere on the backup network.
  • Security: Data is encrypted by the backup service’s software program on your computer before it is sent to the cloud, so thieves on the Internet can’t intercept it.
  • Virus protection: The backup service software detects any virus or infection before data is sent. If a virus is found, that file is flagged and not copied to the backup service. You will be notified that the corrupted file has not been deleted from your computer, so you won’t lose any data, but it won’t be backed up online.

Cloud-Based Backup Cons:

  • Cost: Online backups are more expensive, often requiring monthly or annual fees based on the amount of data stored on the servers.
  • Capacity: Cloud-based backups are best for sensitive information but not for large backups, such as movies, photos and music files. Since some Internet providers limit the amount of data you can send and receive in a month, you must be careful to avoid large backups that cause you to exceed their limits.
  • Speed: It can take a long time to back up large files online, even with a broadband connection.

You can also do a combination: back up all your data to a hard drive, and use a cloud service as a redundant backup for your most important work. As part of its all-purpose computer-maintenance program, the Norton 360 program includes 2 gigs of online backup to get you started with cloud-based backups.

Whatever backup method you choose, the important thing is to make that choice and begin backing up your data.

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