OPINION: The convenience of cloud back-up

DURBAN – Online or “cloud” back-up services offer the ultimate in convenience. There’s no need to remember to attach an external drive and, as the back-up is already remote, if anything happens wherever your computer is, your data is backed up elsewhere.

Setting up a cloud back-up is easy. Simply download and install the back-up “agent” software. Next, perform an initial back-up (a big back-up), and thereafter any changes made are automatically backed up (smaller back-up) according to a schedule.

Connection: There are caveats to consider. For example, the regular uploading could affect your internet connection’s performance, especially if you have a slower connection. Anything less than 1megabit could be problematic. The upload speed of most home and business broadband connections is a bit less than the download speed. This won’t be much of an issue if you don’t change data daily, or schedule back-ups to occur during quiet periods, such as after office hours. Test your internet connection’s speed at www.speedtest.net. Another factor is the amount of data you’ll be transferring – this is relevant for users who have a data “cap” or limit.

If you use an online back-up service, you’ll be transferring your data to a third party – so there may be privacy and security concerns. Most online back-up providers go out of their way to assure users their data is safe but hacks, password leaks and similar breaches have occurred on rare occasions. Back-up vendors typically use military-grade encryption and high security to mitigate these risks, but remain a factor to consider. You shouldn’t entrust back-ups to a company that doesn’t have a track record or reputation to protect.

The sensitivity and value of your data is also a factor. If it’s priceless, then only entrust your back-ups to experts and the most secure systems.

Providers: There are many of online back-up. Most charge on consumption – you pay for the amount you use, on a sliding scale. As the size of your protected data increases, the cost per gigabyte decreases. While back-up providers based abroad in the US, Asia or Europe will work and may offer better pricing, the performance of back-up and restore operations will be impacted by international bandwidth restrictions. You could find yourself waiting days to complete a back-up or restore. Companies with servers based in South Africa benefit from improved local bandwidth giving faster back-ups and restores. And if you have a lot of data to upload initially, most of the local services allow you to copy this to a disk and courier it to the provider, saving you the time and expense of an initial large upload.

Established local providers include IronTree at www.irontree.co.za, DataKeepers at www.cloudback-up.co.za, Soteria at www.soteriacloud.co.za and Broadlink at www.broadlink.co.za.

There are many others: this is a rapidly-growing technology. When comparing services, don’t just look at price. Assess the responsiveness of the service to your queries and initial contact. Ask for reviews and references, and study terms and conditions and contract carefully. Finally, test the service and ensure it works with your computer and connection.

THE MERCURY 

94640302 - OPINION: The convenience of cloud back-up

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