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Cloud Backup: 7 Reasons Why You Need It, 3 Why You Might Not

Mauricio Prinzlau
By Mauricio Prinzlau (CEO & Co-Founder)
— Last Updated: 2018-11-02T09:47:07+00:00

Although I am subject to bias, due to being the co-founder of a website that talks about cloud data backup and storage; I think everybody should consider signing up for a cloud backup service.

Here is the thing, every day we’re adding more gigabytes of data to our computers and smartphones.

The resolution and quality of videos and photos have increased dramatically over the last couple of years — filling up space within our SSDs and HDDs

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The question is not if, but when, you’ll be sitting in front of a computer, regretting not having backed up.

But there is more to cloud backup than disaster recovery and protection. Over the last five years, storing data in the cloud has become commonplace and thus, incredibly affordable.

Carbonite, for example, offers users unlimited cloud backup for as little as $3.50 per month (as of June 2016). Back in the day, storing a terabyte of data online wasn’t even conceivable.

Fortunately, things have changed.

Today, I’ll be showing you the top 7 reasons why I think Cloud backups are the right choice to make. I realize, there are a few misconceptions that need clearing up, alongside very valid objections against cloud backups.

So, I will highlight three additional reasons why you might not want to opt for a cloud backup solution — because not everything that shines is gold.

Let’s go.

1. You need a backup

Have you backed up your computer lately? Come on; I can see you’re already blushing.

Don’t worry, many people I ask this question to don’t have a backup. I’ve got a friend named Greg, who’s launching an outdoor boot camp business.

Fortunately, he’s signed a couple of contracts already, created personalized training regimens and takes dozens of pictures of sessions with his clients.

But does he have a backup of all that data? Unfortunately, no.

His business relies on the data he collects. Losing a contract, or training plan may cost him days to recreate at best. At worst, it can mean bankruptcy. Cloud backup services make it very easy to get started; you don’t have to deal with hard drives, backup schedules, and complicated software.

Let’s look at one of the most popular cloud backup services I like to recommend — Carbonite. The only thing you need to do is hit the “Backup” button, and Carbonite will transfer all your files to their cloud servers.

Carbonite Infocenter Cloud Backup Overview
Pro Tip: I recommend keeping at least one local backup stored on an external hard drive, somewhere in your house or office, and another one in the cloud.

2. Recovery Versions of Files

One huge advantage of a cloud backup service is the ability to recover past versions of a file — think of it as digital time traveling.

Even if you delete a file or accidentally overwrite one with the wrong data, just browse through the file history and retrieve a previous version.  In our example, Carbonite provides a 30-day version history, which means you have 30-days to go back in time and pick out any file your heart desires.

This is how it looks when retrieving a file from the past: Just hit the restore button and browse through the history pane and voilà! Download the version you need.

Restore Previous file Versions with Carbonite

3. Continuous Data Protection in the Background

Backup software removes the hassle of having to stick to a fixed schedule and remembering to hit the “Backup Now” button.

The software sits quietly in the background, scans the operating system for changes and backs up what is necessary.  The good thing about it is that subsequent backups are much faster because only the changed portions of a file will be uploaded.

4. External Hard Drive Backup

If you’re anything like me, getting an external hard drive is a good idea, because the small SSDs inside MacBooks will not cover all your storage needs.

Without a cloud backup service, get ready to start piling up HDDs upon one another, as your external hard drives start running out of space.

Here’s the good news, cheap solutions like:

Allow the addition of an external hard drive to your backup stack, regardless of its size.

Carbonite Mobile Access

5. Anywhere File Access

We’ve all been there; you arrive at a meeting just to realize you’ve forgotten the presentation on a PC at home, and now need to improvise the whole thing.

Not very professional, or easy.

Most backup services have mobile apps, which allow users to recover files from anywhere where an Internet connection is present.

So, I can go in, and search for the forgotten presentation as it sits in the cloud, download it to my mobile device and all is good in the world once again.

6. Cheaper Than Traditional Backup (Initially)

Good cloud backup services, like Carbonite or CrashPlan, are available from $5 per month, per computer.

You don’t have to worry about spending hundreds in hardware or backup software, to get your initial backup up and running. After a couple of years, the cost of subscriptions adds up.

But don’t forget, you need to replace hard drives as well after a couple of years (if you’re lucky).

In the case of cloud backup providers, they take care of replacing broken hard drives in their data centers and keep redundant copies of your files in distinct locations.

7. Security and Data Encryption

If you’re browsing for the ideal cloud backup solution, it’s important to make sure that it supports data encryption.

There are several encryption strategies available and covering them here would be out of the article’s scope.

Suffice it to say; that encryption should take place before data is sent to the cloud, sometimes referred to as end-to-end encryption or local encryption.

The advantage of encryption lies in a user defined key, which cannot be tampered or accessed by the backup company. Therefore, providers cannot read files uploaded to their servers, even if forced by the government or other agencies.

These were my top 7 reasons why I think you should consider a cloud backup solution. But let’s look at some of the downsides, of when a cloud backup solution might not be ideal.

1. Slow Internet Speed

If your home has a very slow internet connection, cloud backups might not be the right choice for you. An initial backup takes a lot of time, even on a decently fast internet connection, no matter the provider you choose.

The decisive factor at play here is upload speed.

If you don’t know what your ISP’s upload speeds are, find out by giving them a call. If it turns out to be less than 1Mbit/s throughput, cloud backups will take an eternity to complete.

Using cloud tech also isn’t ideal if you’re behind a metered or limited bandwidth connection, or are charged by the gigabyte. I know of some friends in New Zealand where that’s the case.

2. A lot of storage

If you own a business that goes through a lot of data, like a video production agency for example, worth dozens of terabytes of video files — using cloud backup may be a challenge.

I would also not recommend a business to sign up for consumer solutions, just because they’re cheap. Businesses need business grade backup, support, and even disc imaging support. All of which are hard to find in consumer plans.

3. Data privacy issues

Last but not least, your business may fall under certain legislation that prohibits uploading files to a third-party, if their servers are outside of the operating country.

Such legislation makes signing up for particular major cloud backup services difficult because their data centres are US based.

In Closing…

Overall, I believe the advantages of cloud backup outweigh the disadvantages.

Personally, I think Carbonite is a good choice for beginners on a budget. If you’re interested, here is an in-depth review of the service.

Let me know what you think, and remember, always back up your stuff!