Backup Storage Options

About Backup Storage Options

By now, most people understand one of the very basic rules of life: computer data needs to be backed up. No internal drive is fail-safe, and it's a very bad feeling to watch all your work and files disappear down the "data hole" when your main drive fails. Much better to have it all backed up! Just in case.

And a hard drive crash isn't the only thing to fear. There's the risk of fire or flood, for example. Or you may just hit the wrong button and inadvertently delete a critical document – or even entire folder.

Backup Storage Options

The good news is that there are many options for data storage, backup systems, and data syncing. These options include both local and cloud-based storage solutions. Let Office Shop Direct help you get started.

Software Solutions

One place to begin keeping data secure and organized is with backup applications that work locally (on your computer system). For example, some programs allow you to automatically back up particular files or folders that you specify on a regular basis. So you can ensure that your current project folders are always being backed up, no matter how busy you are. Other programs actually make a copy (a disk image) of your entire hard drive. Again, no matter how busy you get, you know that your data has been duplicated.

Look into software providers such as Acronis, Genie, Nova, NTI, Paragon, and DT Utilities.

External Hard Drives

External hard drives can be a great backup solution due to their large storage capacity and ease of use. Typically designed to fit on a shelf and often about the size of a large book, these drives offer storage of up to 3 or 4 terabytes (TB). They can connect via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth networking, making them exceptionally convenient. When shopping for external drives, consider models by companies like LaCie, G-Technology, Seagate, Western Digital (WD), and Transcend.

Flash drives, small memory sticks that connect to your computer via your USB port, are another option. While not as serious for backup purposes as external backup drives, flash drives can still be useful for many data storage and transfer purposes and are incredibly easy to use. Look into manufacturers such as Corsair, SanDisk, Kingston, and Verbatim.

Network Server Data Storage

Server backup software offers one of the most flexible methods of data storage. Data that is collected, shared, and stored for access by multiple computers is what resides on a network server. Network backup servers are responsible for taking the data from those computers and storing it securely. When used in conjunction with server backup software, they can bring real peace of mind. Whatever may happen at a particular workstation, the work itself is being stored and secured on a central computer.

Likewise, backup mail servers are responsible for saving e-mails that would otherwise be lost or deleted permanently. A backup mail server can be programmed to automatically save each night at midnight, while others may update regularly during the day.

Cloud-Based Data Storage Solutions

So far, these backup solutions are local approaches to data storage. But what happens if your server fails or your equipment is compromised in some other way? This is where cloud backup and storage comes in.

Backing up data via "the cloud" means that you utilize a provider's offsite servers to store your data "virtually." With an Internet connection to the cloud server, you have full access to your data, even if your local system crashes or is hacked and your data stolen. Your data is safe, secured at a completely different site.

When investigating cloud backup and storage options, there are several factors to consider. One is the number of computers you need to back up. Another factor is the amount of data you'll need to store. Will you be covered by purchasing a plan with a relatively small amount of storage? Or will you want unlimited data storage? For that matter, in this context, just what does "unlimited" mean? (It's not as straightforward as you might think.)

These questions are important in part because they can have a significant effect on the price you pay for your plan. For example, while a typical entry-level plan with unlimited storage for one computer my run as low as $5 to $10 per month, rates may triple when moving to cover, say, 3 computers – and may come with a cap on the amount of storage (perhaps 50 GB or so as a starting point).

These cloud-based storage providers may offer a Web-based console to manage your settings, mobile apps to keep everything current while you're on the go, syncing features that ensure updates are made whenever a file is modified, and more. Take the time to explore features and prices. By reminding yourself of your actual needs and budget, you'll be able to find a solution that fits your needs perfectly.

Take a look at providers such as CrashPlan, Mozy, Zip Cloud, SugarSync, Backup Genie, Carbonite, and IDrive, among others.

The investment of time and money in a practical data storage/backup system is more than worth it. It provides security and peace of mind while helping you add to your bottom line.