You need online backup – and it isn’t enough

A friend is working on a large, complicated book and I asked how often she was backing it up. “Good point,” she said. “I should do that.”

You’ve just shivered. Prepare to put a coat on.

This very smart, very clever and actually very funny friend then said: “I’ll move it to Dropbox.”

I think the computer industry is in a mess right now as we move more things and more types of things to these online services. If you don’t know, then you would think Dropbox was a great answer because those of us who rely on it, love it. Same with iCloud. Probably the same with whatever Microsoft is calling its version today. Then there’s Backblaze and Crashplan. All excellent services but you need to know what they’re excellent at.

The problem for my friend with Dropbox, for instance, is that if she ever deletes her book on her computer, Dropbox will immediately delete it for her on its copy and on any other computer she uses. Because it’s supposed to.

Dropbox is for having your current work with you wherever you go. So is iCloud. In another way, so is Evernote. They are working online copies of everything.

In comparison, Backblaze and Crashplan are offsite backups: your data is copied to them and it sits there. All you can do is copy more to it or get your stuff back if you should have your laptop nicked or if there’s a fire in your house.

None of these are for archiving.

I use Backblaze and if I need to go back to an old version of a file, it’s on their servers for a month. They keep all versions they back up, they just only keep the current one forever. The rest are archived off after four weeks. I am not going to test out what happens if I delete something. But undoubtedly, I can’t just wait until Backblaze has copied up all my work on a particular book and then delete it all to save space on my local drive.

So I need to look into archiving. Seriously need to. I used to use a thing I called the bucket under the stairs: it was an Apple Time Machine – you’ll never guess where I kept it – that all our Macs backed up to hourly. But it died. And it was full before it died. We haven’t lost any data but we have lost the ability to back up locally like that. I can see a few terabyte drives coming up in my near future.

This was on my mind to talk to you about in part because of my friend and her book but also chiefly because I’ve finally had the email notification I have waited for: my office iMac has now been backed up online to the Backblaze service. It has taken eleven months.

This is chiefly because I used to have such a slow internet connection and I’m sure if I hadn’t changed to Sky Fibre this month, I’d still be backing up. But it’s nice to know that it’s done and that now only anything new I do will be uploaded to their servers.





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