File Backup & Sync

by JL Beeken on 6-01-2012

Being the first of the month, it’s backup reminder day again. As I often change how I do my file backup based on available products, services and costs this is my latest rendition.

After two years of using Carbonite Online Backup, I’ve ended my subscription. I’m not saying it’s not good because any backup is a good one but there are other things to consider.

I have two 600GB external hard-drives which cost me about $100 CDN each. External hard-drives should be (I’ve heard) replaced every three years. I have two that are 8 years old and still working fine so that’s just a theory. Three years of Carbonite costs $180.

Using Syncback I can set up profiles to back up exactly the files I want to the external hard-drives. I rotate them monthly so I always have a backup to my backup. I take the most recent one with me whenever I leave my house so that’s my ‘off-site’ backup in case something horrible happens at home.

After the initial backup to the external hard-drives that can take anywhere from minutes to several hours depending on the amount of files, Syncback backs up incrementally in anywhere from seconds to minutes whenever I want it to.

Carbonite does not back up all files by default. It’s possible to tell it to but this means scouring through folder after folder looking for files that are not being backed up automatically. It requires a continual process of keeping an eye on the colored dots that signify folders with files that are not being backed up. In a word, it makes me work too hard.

Carbonite would take about six months running my computer 24/7 to back up the rest of my 350GB of files for the first time. Why bother waiting that long when I can back everything up to an external hard-drive in one day?

Cuz, on the other hand, only has about 20GB of files and one external hard-drive so Carbonite is a good choice for her.

I also use my laptop for a third backup about once a week. I plug in my up-to-date external hard-drive and run Syncback profiles from it.

Free File Backup & Sync Online

I have enough space in Dropbox now to keep my entire ANCESTORS folder. It doesn’t matter particularly because I rarely travel and when I do I have my laptop and/or an external hard-drive with me.

Dropbox syncs files directly from the ‘My Dropbox’ folder that’s automatically on your computer after you install Dropbox. They give you 2GB of space for free and you can earn more space by referring others to set up a free Dropbox account. If you don’t have a website, just put your referral link in your emails to friends and family or invite people to shared folders. You can earn 500MB per referral up to a maximum of 18GB.

I also sync several folders to SugarSync. Again, it’s not necessary in my case, but I figure there’s no such thing as too many backups.

SugarSync syncs files directly from their original locations. I sync my whole Legacy folder to SugarSync so I can use Legacy when I’m away from home.

SugarSync File Backup & Sync

After installing SugarSync on your other computer, open ‘Manage Sync Folders’ and press the Sync button.

SugarSync is 5GB free plus 500MB per referral.

There are many other cloud backup services for people with more complicated lives than mine, traveling between multiple gadgets and wanting instant access at any location. Here are some of them:

So far, I’m using Amazon Cloud DriveMicrosoft SkyDrive and Google Drive. It would take quite a lot of them to cover my other 320GB of files and I’m not keen on breaking up the larger folders. If I was going to do it, I’d probably set up an alphabetical system where I’d sign up to as many cloud backup services as possible and send every folder starting with an ‘a’ to one service, every file starting with a ‘b’ to another service. Something like that. Something I could remember.

As mentioned already, between my two external hard-drives and my laptop, I have three complete backups staggered time-wise. If you have a lesser amount of files you could easily put together a backup strategy using just these free online services.

Amazon Cloud Drive automatically adds itself to the Send To menu in Windows. I’ve added the other two by adding shortcuts to the SendTo folder so it’s really simple to right-click and send a file off to the cloud.

Anything backed up to the cloud is also backed up to my external hard-drives. I simply use the cloud for extra backup and sync-to-my-laptop convenience. Online services can close at any time or have problems beyond our control so I don’t depend on them.

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