One of the biggest challenges for many computer users is data protection.  With the explosion of low cost and high-density disk drives, it has become easy to store massive volumes of data in a very small footprint.  However, many people forget that disk drives fail and the data loss is usually catastrophic.  I always recommend friends and family plan for the worst and develop a backup strategy.  It is like insurance, hopefully you will never need it, but if you do, you will be thankful that you have it.

There are many approaches to backup and recovery, and my favorite is online backup.  There are a variety of services that do this including Mozy, Carbonite and, my favorite, Crashplan.  All of these services work pretty much the same.  You install an agent on your computer and it transmits your data over the Internet to the service provider’s datacenter.  The services will typically require you to initially send all of your data which can take weeks and after the initial transmission only changed or new files are sent which reduces the transmission time.

The biggest initial challenge with these services is getting your data transmitted.  If you have large amounts of content then it can take weeks of constant upload.  The length of time will vary by the amount of data and the speed of your Internet connection.  However, some ISPs (like Comcast) specifically limit your data usage in their Terms of Service (ToS) and you could violate this during the initial transfer.  The penalty varies from a simple threatening letter to a complete service cancellation.  Obviously, this is frustrating and can be avoided with careful management. Read More »