Recent months have brought a string of natural disasters – and with them a reminder of the continued importance of data security.
From floods to storms, businesses across the world have found themselves faced with the prospect of disastrous data loss. For many firms data is the single most important asset. Every firm needs to take steps to protect it.
And yet, for one reason or another, many of us fail to back up – maybe because it seems like too much effort, or perhaps through sheer forgetfulness.
Cloud backup services provide a potential solution to this problem. Cloud backup takes your data and hosts it on a series of servers owned and maintained by a third party. Your data ‘lives’ elsewhere, meaning that you don’t have to bother with physical discs or server maintenance. Even better, many cloud solutions allow you to back up automatically, on a regular schedule, without even clicking your mouse.
Is it safe?
Safety is one of the major continuing concerns when it comes to the cloud. There is no firm answer to this question; ultimately it comes down to perspective. Supporters of the cloud suggest that it is significantly safer than single-server solutions, as its geographic distribution lowers risk. Indeed, this is one of the major arguments used in its favour. Others, however, suggest that there are still significant security concerns associated with the cloud. Some are still reticent about entrusting their data to third party companies, while others point to the recent Amazon outage, which took some of the world’s most popular website offline for some hours, as evidence of structural risk.
How much does it cost?
One of the most significant benefits of the cloud is its generally flexible pricing. The cloud shrinks or expands to fit your needs. So, rather than buying a hard drive and not filling it, you can pay for the resources you actually require.
Dropbox is probably the most widely known cloud storage solution. Its most basic package is, in fact, free, and comes with 2 GB of storage space. Users who require more space can pay for packages, which start at $9.99 a month for 100 GB.
Other cloud providers offer more flexible packages. On Google’s Drive, for example, the first 5 GB are free. Packages of 25 GB and up are available, starting at $2.49 a month.
If you require more flexibility still, you might choose to investigate a service like Amazon’s Cloud Drive. Again, the first 5 GB here are free, and packages are available from 20 GB for $10 a year.
How do I get started?
Having chosen a service, you can start backing up your files. All of the three services above offer a small piece of software that you can install and your computer, and that will automatically ‘monitor’ folders for changes. You can therefore be 3confident that your files will be backed up, without the hassle of having to physically do it yourself.
The method for setting up automatic backup varies from service to service. Dropbox, for example, provides you with a folder into which you can place all the files that you want to be monitored. Make sure that you read the installation guide from your chosen provider for more information.