Tech Software:
Awesome off-site backup
Posted 5/29/2011 on 5/29/2011
Take Away:

Backups: Well know we need them and most of use at least one of the available ways to backup. If we don't, we'd be well served to ponder something Mike Prestwood recently said:

"There are two kinds of people; those that back up - and those that will."

In this article I'd like to show you an off-line backup solution that is so simple to set up and use that you'll never again have an excuse for not backing up important work.


Primary Backup Options

There are two kinds of people: Those that back up; and those that will. (Mike Prestwood)
--Wes Peterson

Let's start with a quick review of our primary backup options:

1: External Hard Drive.  These have become incredibly inexpensive and fast - especially if you have a newer machine with SATA support and an external SATA port. External SATA hard drives run virtually as fast as your internal drives.

Couple a good external hard drive with good backup software, and you're in pretty good shape.

NAS Devices

No backup solution works until you've proven that you can recover from it.
--Wes Peterson

2: NAS devices are external hard drives, but with some serious extra horsepower. NAS stands for network attached storage and the first word, network, is what makes them so compelling.  Instead of connecting to a single computer, as is the case with external hard drives, NAS devices are "computers" in their own right. They have an operating system (usually some flavor of Linux) that allows access to their storage over your network. That makes them available to all machines on your network - so that many machines can share a single NAS for backup.

Let me stop here and say that if you aren't using one of the above solutions, then your work probably doesn't mean much to you. Please think about that.

3: Flash or "thumb" drives. These are incredibly convenient because, when plugged into your computer via a USB port, they look like just another drive. You can directly back up your files to them - or you can use a backup program. They're much more easily transported than an external hard drive or NAS device. Their main drawback is capacity. For the money, they don't offer a great deal of space.

4: Optical drives. These can be viable backup solutions, and double-layer DVD provides quite a bit of storage. CDs and DVDs are compact and have a long "shelf life," so they can be a great way to back up your data - or at least some of it. Storage space, though, doesn't come close to modern hard drive capacities, so plan on using lots of optical disks.

5: Various off-line storage solutions. Several companies offer pretty solid backup and disastery recovery features. If you have lots of crucial data, these are very important. Their downsides are that a) when backing up, they are pretty slow - and can slow down your machine and b) recovery, too, can be quite slow. Still, they are great insurance.

The new kid on the block is the "on-line folder," and it's pretty amazing.

Basically, you sign up for an on-line folder with an off-line vendor and they give you some software that makes their off-line storage look just like another folder on your machine.  It's always there - right in Windows Explorer.

Just like a real folder on your local hard drive, you can copy (or drag-n-drop) your files into the on-line folder - and the transfer is quite fast. The same goes for "recovering" data from your on-line folder. Once again, copying (or drag-n-drop) gets your files back.

Obviously, a huge advantage to the on-line folder is that your data is stored off-line; someplace that's immune to the disasters that can strike your local IT infrastructure.

Fire, flood, theft are real threats to your local data. But, should you suffer any of those, your personal, on-line folder can come to the rescue just as soon as you have a replacement machine connected to the Internet.

So, where do you get an on-line folder - and what does it cost?

Simply go to MyHostCafe and sign up for an on-line folder.  This feature is tucked under "Email Accounts" on the main menu, whch should take you here:

There you'll see your options for folder size, the duration of your subscription, and options to add more storage than the listed plans provide. Prices are clearly posted.

Once you finish the process of checking out, MyHostCafe will deliver the software you need to integrate your on-line folder right into Windows Explorer.

It's not free, but it is definitely reasonable - and incredibly easy to use. I can't think of a solid, off-line storage solution that could be easier to use.

Article Contributed By Wes Peterson:

Wes Peterson is a Senior Programmer Analyst with Prestwood IT Solutions where he develops custom Windows software and custom websites using .Net and Delphi. When Wes is not coding for clients, he participates in this online community. Prior to his 10-year love-affair with Delphi, he worked with several other tools and databases. Currently he specializes in VS.Net using C# and VB.Net. To Wes, the .NET revolution is as exciting as the birth of Delphi.

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Printed 12/9/2021