Having only one form of backup is almost as bad as having no backup at all. The fact that you’re using online backup or an offline solution to secure your data is good news, but it’s still not enough. For true backup security you need more than one option. Here’s why.

Case of The Disappearing Website

Have you ever woken up to check one of your favorite sites, only to find it has been acquired, shut down or disappeared? This happens all the time.

And if the website that disappears happens to be your chosen online backup solution, where does that leave you? Up the creek without your data, that’s where. That’s why it makes sense to backup your data in more than one place.

Vulnerable Hard Drives

Don’t be complacent because you are using a portable hard drive for your backup. It’s a good idea to have one, but remember that its greatest asset is its greatest point of vulnerability – portability. If you take the hard drive with you, you could forget it somewhere or someone could take it away.

And what if you drop it? While some are drop-resistant, others are not, and if your drive falls from a great height, you may lose access to your data. That’s why a portable hard drive is just one backup option; online backup is a way to hedge your bets.

More Space, Less Money

There’s a financial incentive to having more than one backup solution too. Many online backup providers have a certain level of free storage, after which you have to pay. You can use free storage from multiple providers to make sure that all your data is backed up without breaking the bank. Bob Rankin reckons that with just the providers he lists in this article, you could get 170GB of free storage.

Using multiple providers also has another advantage in allowing you to maximize your storage space. One good strategy is to use a different backup provider for each kind of file (but remember, all data must be backed up in multiple places).

There is one disadvantage of using multiple backup providers simultaneously – the risk of confusion. That’s where a cloud backup manager like Otixo or Primadesk comes in handy.

Mobile Access

Most online backup services offer mobile access, but you need to find one that has a client that works with your phone’s operating system, integrates seamlessly with a desktop version and has a user-friendly app with all the features you need.

For example, while I love the storage I get with OneDrive, the ease of use of the Dropbox mobile application makes it a great option for on-the-go access to my most used files.

Do You Really Have a Backup?

Scott Hanselman has some interesting ideas about what does and does not count as a backup. He makes the point that if your backup is in the same location as your original (such as a folder on the same computer or a permanently plugged in portable hard drive), then it doesn’t count as a backup. Instead, he recommends the computer backup rule of three:

  • Three copies of anything you care about (two isn’t enough if it’s important)
  • Two different formats (Dropbox+DVDs or Hard Drive+Memory Stick or CD+Backblaze)
  • One off-site backup (in case the house burns down or something)?
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Although I’m an online backup fan girl, if you take Scott’s rules into account, I still have some work to do to get the perfect backup setup. On my phone, it’s fine, because I have a desktop backup as well as exporting all my photos and videos to both Dropbox and Pogoplug. I also installed MediaFire and a Mega client for additional cloud storage if I need it.

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On the desktop, it’s a different scenario. I use SugarSync as my primary backup, and a portable hard drive as my secondary one (though it would help if I kept it in a safe instead of near my desk). I also copy selected files to Dropbox or Google Drive. But there’s still more to do, so I’ve made a decision. I’m going to get another online backup client for my PC  so I have that extra layer of security. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What’s your online backup regime? Do you backup to more than one source?

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