Search the internet and you will find all kinds of reasons for using (or not using) cloud storage, pros and cons, numbered lists like “5 reasons to use/not use cloud storage”, articles detailing specifics about different providers, and generalities about cloud storage. However, in my experience of working in IT servicing residential and small businesses clients and being an avid technology user myself hording my life’s worth of data, I can give you the best reason, bar none, for using the cloud to backup your data:
The #1 reason to backup data using the cloud is that you will ACTUALLY HAVE BACKUPS!
What do I mean by this? Of course you “have backups” using the cloud, that’s the point?! You can “have backups” with other traditional means also, so this doesn’t make sense. Well actually, it does. With all the technology that we have and the capability to make backups of our data, in my experience- the vast majority of residential computer users do not have backups of their data. This normally culminates in a scenario where a hard drive crashes and “all of a sudden” tragedy strikes the individual as they don’t have access to any of their important documents, photos, music, etc. No backups, just one copy on the now impervious hard drive.
This is all too common and the reason why data recovery is such a great business. If it’s a software issue the person may be able to have data restored for $100-$200. If it’s a serious hardware issue the drive can be sent to a “clean room” facility where the company may be able to recover the data, at a normal cost ranging from $700-$3000!
With the technology and low cost of cloud based storage, this should not be happening. Cloud storage is by far the easiest, most efficient way to backup your data, and it’s offsite to-boot. If your house goes up in flames, no sweat your data is safe and recoverable. Many IT professionals don’t even consider it a “backup” until there is some form of offsite storage.
So why will you “actually have backups” when using cloud storage? Because the best applications allow for fully automatic, unattended backups, and many have the capability to make differential and incremental backups, so anything that changes to your data is backed up, effectively keeping your backups up to date.
I can attest to this #1 reason myself. I have done backups for my personal and business data using external hard drives, flash drives, CDs, and DVDs using various applications and even custom scripts. Sure it worked, but not efficiently. I always had to monitor, move stuff around, and even keep a drive at the in-laws house for my off-site backup! Then you have to worry about keeping the backups up to date, the logistics of location, scripts blowing up, drives dying, and so on. There were times that my backups weren’t up to date like they should have been, times where it went days to weeks before I noticed certain data not getting backed up, and basically, it was a hassle.
My system was automated to a point, but needed a lot more of my time, thought, and energy to keep them up. Not to mention the need to test recovery, which leads me to my point: You shouldn’t have to spend all your energy on the backup process, if any energy and time is spent, it should be on testing recovery! A backup is only good if it can be recovered.
I use Ubuntu One and an app called DejaDup to backup my data on my main Linux box. DejaDup actually encrypts the data and then transfers it to Ubuntu One. The best part is that after just a few clicks and initial setup it runs automatically, every day, without any of my time and energy being needed. Period. What I will do every once in a while is test recovery by copying the data back to a folder on my hard drive. I’ve used this for almost a year so far without any problems in recovery, and my backups are always up to date.
Most people will not make backups unless it is automatically done without thought. Cloud storage is the best way to accomplish this. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to run a backup or making copies. It will just get done…and that is what is desperately needed….for backups to just get done!