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When was the last time you made a backup of your hard drive?

Take a moment to think about everything you are at risk of losing. Taking a quick look through the contents of my computer’s hard drive, I saw things like pictures, videos, tax information and receipts for online purchases, all of the software I’ve downloaded and configured.

Losing all of this information is losing a part of yourself. Going about our daily routines, we rely heavily on the physical hard drives in our computers to stay healthy. Like everything mechanical, it will fail. What are you going to do to help keep the information most important to you safe when disaster strikes?

As you may have  noticed, over the past few years the price of external storage has plummeted. About 2 years ago, you could have purchased a very portable 250 or 500 GB hard drive for about $100 or so. The low prices of external storage mean you can get a 1 TB external hard drive a little bigger than a pack of playing cards for the same price. But the question is, what has this done to online backup and cloud storage pricing?

Cloud storage pricing has dropped at an alarming rate over the past few years. The extremely low prices definitely warrant taking a good hard look at online backup options before spending $100 or $200 on an external hard drive that’s bound to fail.

The best solution for you will be an online backup of some kind. With all of the services available, how do you know what the best option is? Take a look at some of the reasons you will want to use cloud-based storage and some of the options available to you.

1. Online backup is easy and automatic.

Once up and running, online backup doesn’t require you to have a good memory. I know there have been a bunch of times I didn’t remember to plug in my external hard drive when it was time to back up my computer, how about you? The initial backup can take some time to complete. However, once it is complete the backup process is barely noticeable. As you are working, the new information will be seamlessly backed up whether it be something new or a revision of something you have been working on for a while, like your zombie novel.

2. Less likely to be damaged

Physically having an external hard drive in your possession leaves it open to all kinds of potential hazards. Some of the hazards might be your fault like stepping on it, dropping it or knocking over your coffee cup on it while a backup is in progress. Other possible ways to damage the external hard drive are a little less your fault. There could be a fire at your house or office that consumes the hard drive. Something all too common would be an electrical surge such as a lightning strike nearby that could damage the hard drive or corrupt the information on it.

Another very good possibility is the hard drive simply wears out. I’m sure you yourself or you know someone who’s lost all of their important information because the hard drive crashed. Because the servers used for online backup are consistently running, the hard drives are replaced with good regularity. Also many of the servers use what’s called a RAID set up which means your information is redundantly backed up on multiple hard drives. This way if one goes bad, the information is still safe and you don’t see any interruption of service.

3. Security and peace of mind

The reputable online backup services offer a great deal of security. They don’t have access to your individual files, they are just providing you with storage space. What’s nice about using an online backup solution is the peace of mind. A huge security benefit is the encryption they use. In most cases, people don’t encrypt their flash drives or larger external hard drives so using an automatic online backup would be added security for most people.

Another reason storing your information in the cloud is more secure in most cases is because someone isn’t going to break into their server banks and physically take your information out. Unless they are some highly trained espionage team like you’d see on mission impossible, you can rest assured your vacation photos from Niagara Falls will be safe. In fact, many of the data centers are spread out over large distances and there are actually several backups of your information.

Google Drive

Google Drive gives you 5 GB of free storage accessible from any computer and most mobile devices through the Google Account you may already be using. Additional space can be purchased if you need more space. For $4.99 a month you can get 100 GB of Google Drive storage. Using the Google Drive Offline app, you can easily sync all of your important information and keep safely online.

Dropbox

Dropbox is one of the most well known names in cloud storage. Initially you’ll get 2 GB of storage for free. The space is accessible through pretty much any device connected to the Internet. When used on an Android device, there’s options for automatic picture or video upload. Additional space can be purchased also. 100 GB of dropbox space will run you $9.99 a month.

Carbonite

Carbonite is an automatic backup software for your computer. The yearly price of the entry-level service is $59 a year. This $59 gets you unlimited storage space on the Carbonite servers to backup video, audio, photos, documents and even your computer settings. If you need more features, other backup options are available too.

Other Options

Overall, the online backup of information is more secure than it’s ever been. There are a huge plethora of options available not just the 3 listed above and it’s worth looking around for a good online backup solution because these type of backups rely less on human interaction meaning, first and foremost, the backups actually happen. And with all of the security involved in the transmittal and storage of your data, it’s pretty darn safe overall.

Featured photo credit:  Defect hard disk drive with smoke. Open drive as symbol for data loss. via Shutterstock

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