How To Protect Your Personal Data When Disaster Strikes
I’ve known for a long time that in the event of a disaster such as a flood, fire, hurricane or tornado that my personal data including health records, financial statements, insurance information, etc. would most likely be destroyed. I’ve known it’s a risk yet I’ve done nothing about it. We’ve discussed purchasing a fire/waterproof safe and even making copies and storing them elsewhere. Why haven’t we done it? I’m not sure exactly. To be honest, I guess it’s just pure laziness and the fact that I keep telling myself: What are the chances?
What tweaked me to make begin looking at options and to take action was the recent fires in California. I wonder how many people lost their personal data including family pictures, documents, etc. Fireproof safes are generally only fireproof for a certain amount of time or if the blaze is less than a certain temperature thus making them a potentially unreliable source of protection.
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been researching the various options, and kept coming back to the same answer: online backup services. Not a new service in the market for sure, but they have become much more cost effective and reliable recently. These services offer online and off-site data storage known as “vaulting”. They provide the ability to store your data on backup computer systems and even in physical data storage vaults. In the event of a disaster, the data can be quickly retrieved and/or restored. The best part? The data can be retrieved from anywhere. Another huge benefit.
I found the best review of the available services/software over at PC Magazine where they did a feature on The Best Backup Solutions. Here’s a summary of the software they and a few other sites reviewed and the findings from the articles I read:
SOS Online Backup (Editor’s Choice)
SOS Online Backup received very high marks from the editors of PC Magazine and from a number of other reviewers. Two key features of note with this package are continuous backup and backup of open files. SOS offers various different plans based on the amount of data you wish to backup. SOS continuously monitors the folders and files you flag for backup and automatically stores that data for you. Visit PC Magazine for the full review.
Mozy (Editor’s Choice)
Mozy also received top marks and provided the lowest cost solution among the various options. Mozy was liked by both PC Magazine and Arstechnica. The key selling point to Mozy is the $4.95 a month unlimited storage plan. Mozy is highly flexible and includes numerous various backup, security and encryption options. For the average user who just wants to to simply backup their data, Mozy may not be the best option.
In sharp contrast to Mozy, Carbonite has very few options and is targeted to be a more simple online backup product. For users who want to specify specific backup options or select specific files or folders Carbonite isn’t the right option. Arstechnica also found Carbonite to be slow doing backups and restores. Cost $49.95/year.
XDrive from AOL is a service that wasn’t liked by any of the reviews I read. The desktop software was slow and frequently hung. The connectivity to online storage was unreliable and slow. Another issue editors of Arstechnica raised was that there was no way to throttle the connection, so while restore or backup processes were in use, the internet connection was unusable.
Seems this is an option I won’t be considering based on the reviews I read.
I haven’t decided which software I am going to use just yet, but at this point I am leaning towards SOS primarily due to constant backup feature and price. I’ll keep you posted on how things go and what I end up staying with for the long haul. There are also some things you’ll need to consider when backing up your data, especially when moving from paper to digital format. I’ll discuss those in a future article.
Are you using online backup? If so, what’s your preferred choice? Any tips for those considering using these or other services?