What Is The Best Backup Solution? [Geeks Weigh In]

Matt Smith 07-06-2012

data backup solutionTen years ago an external hard drive – or even a physical disc such as a CD-ROM – was the only practical way to back up files. Consumer-grade network storage solutions were primitive, expensive and hard to use. Cloud storage? What’s cloud storage?


More choice is great, but it also brings a dilemma. What should you choose to handle your backups? Is there one solution that’s clearly the best? Let’s apply some thought to this problem and see what comes out ahead.


Before we can gauge backup solutions we first have to decide the metrics we’re judging them by. I think there are four details that are important.


This one is obvious. An inexpensive solution is better than an expensive one if everything else is equal.


How much can you realistically store? A backup solution that can’t contain all your files is ineffective and annoying.


How quickly can you create a backup and restore from it?  This is an ease-of-use issue and also a functionality concern when backing up large amounts of data.



What’s the chance that your backup will be destroyed or lost? Can it be stolen, erased, or lost in a disaster?

This article is looking at backup solutions from a satellite view. It’s not meant to help you find a specific product but instead decide what category of backup solution is best for you. Now, on to the contenders.

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data backup solution

The undisputed champion of backups of years, external hard drives are still popular but now have serious competition. Is this still you best bet?



External hard drive prices change over time but are currently sitting at around $100 for 1TB of storage. This is by far the cheapest solution in terms of capacity-per-dollar.


This is another high point of the external hard drive. Though the 1TB drive is currently the volume leader, there are drives in 2TB, 3TB and even 4TB capacities. Only one other option can offer more.


Today’s external hard drives have mostly transferred over to USB 3.0, which is extremely quick. Even at USB 2.0 speeds are fine – a typical example with a typical drive will net you around almost a gigabyte per minute, which is faster than most any other choice.


External hard drives are vulnerable to theft, physical destruction and hacking. They aren’t particularly secure unless encrypted.


Network Attached Storage

backup solution

NAS is the cousin of the hard drive, but it connects to a network directly. Some options can handle everything over Wi-FI while others have to plug in to a router.


A decent NAS unit can easily run over $200 before any hard drives are installed in it. Some hard drive manufacturers are now selling external hard drives with network adapters as a poor man’s NAS, but reviews of such product aren’t great.


NAS can meet or exceed the capacity of an external hard drive. The largest units, which are designed with enterprise solutions in mind, can 8TB, 16TB, 32TB or even more.



Network hardware is usually the limitation on speed. Data can be transferred quickly with the best Gigabit adapters or a strong 802.11n. A weak network, on the other hand, can slow transfer speeds to far less than a gigabyte per minute.


Like an external hard drive, this solution is vulnerable to theft, physical destruction and hacking.

Cloud Storage Dropbox vs. Google Drive vs. OneDrive: Which Cloud Storage Is Best for You? Have you changed the way you think about cloud storage? The popular options of Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive have been joined by others. We help you answer which cloud storage service should you use. Read More

backup solution

The new kid on the block, cloud storage offers traits that are opposite of the physical storage options. Let’s see how it stacks up.


Cloud storage services charge by the month. A small account with around 10 gigabytes will cost about $10. Storage in the hundreds of gigabytes can cost $50 or more per month. Capacity-per-dollar is clearly not the strong point of cloud storage.


It’s possible to purchase cloud storage in almost any capacity, as different services offer different plans. Pricing is the limitation.


Your Internet connection is the bottleneck. Many users will find that cloud storage is relatively slow as a result. Also, because most Internet service providers offer lower upload speeds than download speeds, backing up data will usually take longer than restoring it.


Hacking is the main threat to cloud storage. Theft and physical destruction, though possible, are extremely unlikely – and most services claim to implement redundant file storage that protects against disaster. Most issues with hacked accounts occur because of a breach in the user’s security rather than a breach in the service.

Physical Media

data backup solution

Backing up to a physical CD, DVD or Blu-Ray disc seems archaic, but it can still be done, and is an option some users might want to consider.


Individual discs may cost only a few cents or dollars (depending on the format) but the need to constantly buy discs can make this an expensive option over time.


Theoretically there is no limit, but time and money are factors. Most people won’t be able to practically back up more than one hundred gigabytes of data.


The speed at which data is burned varies significantly from one burner to the next. Data transfer rates typically lag USB connections, and even if they did not, the need to switch out discs while backing up data instantly puts this option near the back of the pack.


Physical discs aren’t vulnerable to hacking even when inserted because they can be made read-only. Theft and destruction are potential threats, but discs are small enough to easily secure in a safe or even an off-site lock box. Discs are fairly resistant to impact damage and invulnerable to both water damage and power surges.


These four backup solutions are not the only options, but they’re the only ones I can seriously recommend.

I think the external hard drive remains the overall champion. It is inexpensive, offers plenty of capacity and can quickly handle large backup and/or restore jobs. Most users faced with the question of backing up data should buy an external drive and be done with it.

With that said, both cloud storage and physical media are good choices for backing up important data. Despite fears of hacking, cloud storage is secure overall because it is nearly invulnerable to other threats. Physical media is even more secure but a pain in the butt to use.

Now, geeks, it’s your turn. Based on the criteria listed in this article, what do you think of this verdict? What do you use as your data backup solution? Do you know of an amazing alternative that isn’t listed here? Let us know in the comments.

Related topics: Cloud Computing, Cloud Storage, Data Backup, NAS.

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  1. Frank
    September 29, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Reading the comments I am surprised that nobody is worried about the cost of the data transfer is it so cheap in the USA?

  2. Chris Himes
    March 2, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    Well I think hard drives are still fine to some extent, I dont think anyone can truly rely on one form of backup so best to have 2 or 3 different sources. For something cheap I use Backup Everything on, they have good reviews and all UK based support.

  3. Patrick Jackson
    November 19, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    A nice review and assessment, by the way. I also like you thinks that a portable hard drive is the best option in these four, but Ryan recently in his article (/tag/guys-files-happened/) referred that one should backup in more than one place. Then what should be used amongst these for a secondary backup option?

  4. The Flash
    November 4, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    I personally proceed as follows :

    1) Critical data (finances, IDs, photos...) : 1*32GB flashcard at home + 1 at work (in a drawer) ; redundant data, updated once every 3 months (data is pretty static)

    2) Less sensitive data :
    - Cloud (Dropbox) : for ebooks, health records, diplomas, univ. courses
    - 2*1TB HDD (Samsung) : for music & videos (redundant data)

    What's next : encrypting the files

    Final note : I try to keep the data I backup to the bare minimal. Even if I lose my videos/music, I would be able to download them again since I keep track of them using a directory lister.

  5. Félix S. De Jesús
    October 14, 2012 at 2:51 am

    For me, External Hard Drive is the perfect solution by now. B/C Clouding is more worth, if you have a Speedy internet. But in many reasons, including recovery of documents, when your computer can't boot, External Hd is the solution.

  6. Lee
    October 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm

    It is great to hear all the different ways people are doing their backups. For me, I had so much data and so many external drives of various sizes that backing up the current seemed to be impossible. I decided to go with a cloud service with unlimited data. I had a lot of trust in them so I started deleting my clients files off of my externals and then started deleting other personal files as well, thinking that I could get all of my external drives freed up so I can organize them later and bring things back from the cloud. Twice since I started the project, they lost my files and I had to fight like hell to get them to restore and finally a month ago, they lost all of my files and now a majority of them are back and the others are still processing. I probably have about 4-5tb of data.

    How did I know my files were missing? Because every week, I use filezilla and go through and random check folders to make sure my files are still there. After all, they didn't know of the problem until I let them know. It took nearly 28 days to get them to restore. Believe me, none of the cloud services that other people are suggesting are in this forum and I didn't come here to tell everyone how horrible they are. It is their fault that they lost the files, but it is my fault that I allowed them to have the only copy. Believe me, when the restore is complete, I will be downloading everything onto external drives and making sure this doesn't happen, and I will be going with another service and just simply use them as a temporary over-sized cloud for when I need it.

    Based on all the suggestions, I am going to sign up with a monthly cloud storage that backs up the files that are on my computer. I will make sure to get another 4tb internal drive so that I don't have to worry about making sure my external is always plugged in. Next, I will take one of my spare externals and use that to off-load my tv shows to. This external will only be for tv shows and nothing else.

    The other external drives that I have will be used for encrypted backups from a true backup software.

    For the OS, I will back up to a dedicated external drive that I can do once every three months.

    The only thing is, I would love to have a software tell me where my files are backed up to. It would be nice to know where a file that was moved from my internal drive to an external drive or the cloud (keyword moved!).

  7. Usman Mubashir
    September 2, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    As a simple home user, I use 10 rewritable DVDs to backup my PC whenever I feel like it. But I`m planning to shift to cloud soon.

  8. DevynH
    August 31, 2012 at 1:52 am

    Hidey Ho,

    Could roll your own with Linux RAID (Something many of the ready solutions already come with) and without the high cost. Here's one example dealing with this with about 4TB usable and SSD R/W speeds on RAID6.

    They put it through some heavy hits as well and it continues to tick and function though sufficient *NIX skills would be required.


  9. Dan Valentin
    August 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm

    I use external hdd with encryption (TrueCrypt).When i'll storage more than i allready have i'll go for NAS.Phisical media is no longer a valid option for me recently.I think couding could be an alternative.

  10. anon
    July 20, 2012 at 5:11 am

    I use a NAS and cloud storage.

  11. Ales Mole
    June 21, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    My home solution is:
    1. Backup of OS - win7 64-bit with StorageCraft to an external 2TB disk - daily incremental with weekly full backup
    2. Dropbox for books and documents
    3. Synology NAS - 2TB in mirror - for pictures, movies and sensitive "documents"
    4. Backup with Genie backup - file backup of NAS to 2 TB external disk

  12. Ben
    June 16, 2012 at 8:07 am

    I keep a full backup of my computer and all its files on a external HDD, but keep a second copy of my most valuable on a couple 32 GB flash drives. At $20-30 a piece, it's a good way to securely, and easily store my absolutely most sensitive, or precious files (financial,vacation photos, whatever). These flash drives are small enough to easily store in a fire-proof safe, and are easy to upload / download files on them - especially on USB 3.0.

  13. Dany Bouffard
    June 11, 2012 at 5:38 pm

    Personally my way to backup my stuff is done using an old computer and setting up a Freenas server in Raid-Z so if I lose 1 of the disk I dont lose everything I just need to replace that disk en reconstruct the raid.

  14. Agent Smith
    June 11, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Put an encrypted copy of your data online and give it some name suggesting they are leaked government files from wikileaks. Put it on a popular torrent tracker. You'll always have plenty of seeders to download your backup.

  15. Richard Steven Hack
    June 10, 2012 at 10:07 pm

    Flash drives? Yeah., that'll back up my TWO TERABYTES of data...not.

    Seriously, the best backup is a combination of a second machine and offsite storage.

    External drives do suck at having long life spans although my Western Digital MyBook Essentials has been doing well for the past year. The key is NOT moving them around. Pick a low temperature spot, lay them down, hook them up and then don't touch them - ever.

    But hard drives in a machine can last three years. Hard drives in a NAS can last an equal amount of time provided the heat dissipation of the NAS is decent. So backing up your main machine to either a second machine or a NAS is the way to go.

    You back up your first machine to your second. This gives you data redundancy plus a machine you can use when your first machine goes down. The second machine can be a much cheaper one than your main machine. It only needs to support data backup plus whatever surfing and such you need to do when your main machine goes down. An old used machine for $100 is sufficient for this purpose.

    Then you backup your data AGAIN to an external drive which you store off site in a safe deposit box or storage facility. This protects you against a home disaster.

    Cloud storage is an excellent way to back up SMALL amounts of data, i.e., say, up to 50GB or so initially over several days with low daily incremental backups afterward. It's not the way to back up your video collection of 1,000 ripped DVDs...unless you want to send the service a hard drive and let them install the backup on their service, which some will do for around $100 plus hourly labor fees.

    All the concerns about cloud storage are irrelevant. There is no security anywhere. So encrypt the files so no one can do anything with them. You can always use multiple services as well if you can afford it. With redundant storage you don't care if one goes out of business. Cloud storage is the bomb for back up - IF you use them for just low amounts of critical data and protect that data wisely.

    If you have under 50GB of data, DVDs are find if you can spare the time, but be aware they DO degrade over time and in a year or so there's a good chance they won't be readable completely.

    One thing you should never do is compress your back ups. One failure in the decompression during restore and you've lost the entire backup. Take the hit in space and back up the files uncompressed.

    • Richard Steven Hack
      June 10, 2012 at 10:13 pm

      A further comment on off site backup...

      The prohibition against moving external drives around clearly doesn't apply to the off site backup drive. The problem is that if the off site drive is to be useful it needs to have a relatively current back up on it. This means you've moving it around at least weekly...

      Your two options are to have two external drives which are swapped, thus extending the life span of each and providing some redundancy, OR use cloud back up for the most critical files so if the off site external drive fails it isn't a disaster.

      For low amounts of data, really, the best off site backup is cloud storage. Amazon S3 is very cheap and stores the data spread out over dozens of machines. You can also buy a "Reduced Redundancy" option at a lower cost which is STILL more redundant than anything you can do yourself.

    • Lee
      October 12, 2012 at 5:18 pm


      Your plan is a very good plan. I am in the process of re-organizing my files and having all my files on my main pc, then backed up as backup files to externals, and backed up to two cloud services.. one that does the backup automatically and the other manual in which I can upload files to.

      I do like your idea of having a second computer and will do so at some point, with two internal 4tb drives. I appreciate your advice of not compressing the backups and will no longer do that.

      Basically, I need to re-organize my files again and determine what is important for which cloud service, externals, drop box, live, etc.

  16. thuya8
    June 10, 2012 at 9:29 pm

    great post

  17. Chiefe Nette
    June 10, 2012 at 8:39 am

    Having in mind all those criteria reinforce the decission of implementing BOS according to each case's needs and budget

  18. Jon Smith
    June 9, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    i was thinking of cloud services but I can never see what could possibly put in it without considering the security issues-photos (no thanks), music (i got spotify now), private documents (that drive belongs in a shoe compartment), and that leaves nothing else

  19. Dildano
    June 9, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    With all this talk about cloud services, I'm surprised that no one has mentioned Truecrypt. I don't completely trust Dropbox either, so I keep my critical files in a Truecrypt volume, and sync that to the cloud. I pair this method with a couple of Truecrypt-encrypted external hard drives which are rotated each week. I always have one of the drives locked up at work to serve as my offsite backup. I have a wonderful NAS, but it won't protect me from theft/fire/disaster/etc.

  20. Esteban
    June 8, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    I swear for Carbonite.

    They charge me about 50usd a year for unlimited storage; as of today I have 75,222 files (173.08 GB) backed up...

    For the price, that's pretty impressive!

    Plus, I can access my backup from my android phone, or anywhere with an internet connection.

  21. bill wang
    June 8, 2012 at 3:28 pm


    nice overview but an option that you overlooked is using a hard drive dock with internal drives.

    this solution scales well and the cost is similar to external drives--dock $30 + $120 per 2TB HDD (used to be $70 before the floods in Thailand).

    it also allows for easy off-site storage (internal HDDs conveniently fit in a standard safe deposit box--up to 6).

    finally, it's easy to build redundancy into this system. i have 6 drives that i rotate through for my backup (full backups because they're easier to work with and restore from) and gives me some protection in the event of a virus or accidental deletion.

  22. Vipul Jain
    June 8, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Cloud storage rocks for carrying around High priority data like small doc, xls or pdf files. Maybe a few pics as well.
    But for major data, taking all that time to upload stuff then taking equal time to download it somewhere else is foolishness.
    Maybe in some countries you get 4-8Mbps actual download speed, but in India its 60Kbps.. :/
    As for the provider i have tried Skydrive, Sugarsync, Google Drive & Dropbox. Also some of the other file sharing sites like FSC, MU, FF & MF.
    But among all of them Dropbox is the best in terms of syncing capabilities, ease of use, and apps (for PC, Android, Online, iOS)
    Also 2GB Free which can be increased upto 8-10GB is more than enough for those files.
    I even have a shared folder with 2 of my buddies where we share a new song every weekend.. :p

    So for major data like movies, games, tv shows, softwares etc. (Yes i am an elite piracy supporter :D) i prefer DVD's.
    I have like 3-400DVD's burned up and a word file regularly updated with what all i burned n the next dvd, properly arranged :D

    I dont trust External HDD's coz
    1) they have a limit!
    2) One virus & woosh!! everything might be gone.

    I would love to replace DVD's with Blurays though if they come out cheaper than right now.

    So end verdict.

    Small files - Dropbox
    Big Files (Backup) - DVD's

    • Vipul Jain
      June 8, 2012 at 10:33 am

      BTW in terms of life expectancy i have DVD's ranging from 8years back to current ones.
      Its all about how you maintain them :)

  23. Max
    June 8, 2012 at 9:34 am

    My first (and thinking in Fight Club terms, also second and third) criterion is actually one not mentioned in this article: "how much control do you have over it?". I prefer to surrender as little of it as possible (preferably none at all), and that kicks cloud backup straight back into oblivion for me.

    Also, reliability of current optical disks seems to be nothing short of scary - I can easily write a disk that won't even read right back in the same drive just by using the wrong brand (and this invariably happens over a significant number of different drives / machines!). Leading brands seem to fare somewhat better, but barely. Moderate wear and tear of disk surface (or just the current position of planets really) have resulted in unreadable disks for no good reason. That is unacceptable in a backup for me, especially considering that since optical media is mostly a read-only one, the first time you'll realize your backup has become unreadable is going to be when you'll actually need it.

    The obvious winner is thus (for me) the external HDD - failure rate is actually irrelevant if you do backups consistently, unless you assume that your backup drive and your main one will miraculously fail exactly in the same backup cycle - otherwise you just replace whichever failed and reload the data from the other one. Furthermore, it's actually more reliable than the cloud, considering that one also comes with absolutely no certainty of being able to access your backup at any future date, whereas HDDs at least have a reasonably predictable lifespan (and can easily be used in redundant RAID mode in any half-decent NAS, if you're THAT concerned).

    As to the last aspect (off-site backup for the astronomically unlikely event of the zombie apocalypse or something) - the data that most private users would really want to keep safe in such an event is pretty much static - probably family photos and possibly a growing pile of old documents - therefore can easily be backed up once (then incrementally, every now and then) to a suitable media of your choice that you just leave at your workplace / mother-in-law etc. Disk durability is admittedly a challenge for this approach though - if some kind of ultra-reliable long term (even if only write-once) medium could be found, this would be solved...

  24. otojunk
    June 8, 2012 at 4:26 am

    Thanks for the article, Matt.

    What is the life expectancy of DVDs? I want to archive many old family pictures for my granddaughter who is now 3 years old. They would be a birthday present for her when she is 16.

    What is the life expectancy of a flash drive, if files are only copied to it and the drive is put in a safe place?

    These might not be the best ideas I have ever had, because she might not be able to find a DVD player or a flash reader 13 years from now. :>(

    Guess I might have to box up a low-cost desktop to give her for her 16th birthday, too. :>)

    • Paul in NJ
      June 12, 2012 at 12:17 am

      Family historians have this discussion all the time: What is the life expectancy of X versus Y media? Yeah, there are studies, but they're projecting. They don't really know.

      The consensus, at least as far as photos and documents, is: Paper. Archival-quality, non-acidic paper -- and photo paper -- has a proven track record of centuries with little or no degradation.

      Now, the ink used... that's another issue still under discussion.

  25. Tim Berte
    June 8, 2012 at 3:32 am

    You should do a follow-up article with software options.

  26. Shehan Nirmal
    June 8, 2012 at 2:34 am

    Clouding data is also good...!!!

  27. Johann
    June 8, 2012 at 12:50 am

    The best backup solution is the one you actually use.

    For home users, you can't really go past a NAS with RAID. If a drive in it fails (and they will, you just have to give them enough time to prove it) swap it out immediately and you're secure again.

    Of course this doesn't cover data loss due to break-ins, fires etc but you can maximise your chances of surviving this by hiding your NAS somewhere, like maybe in your basement.

    I'm currently building my brother a NAS solution the same as mine (based on an HP N40L) and will then be syncng our backups with each other for off-site security. That's about as good as you can get without going to a third-party and it's free.

    • PerryKahai
      June 8, 2012 at 4:56 am

      I love the first sentence: "The best backup solution is the one you actually use." You bet!

  28. Greg
    June 8, 2012 at 12:43 am

    I use a flash drive and MediaFire for my storage (even though MF isn't meant as a cloud storage haha)

  29. LD
    June 7, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    I use Windows Home Server to backup all pc's on my network (4 pcs not counting 2 servers). WHS uses a Raid 5 for some redundancy, then all the important data is backed up to crashplan's servers. CP+ costs $6 / month for unlimited storage.

    • PerryKahai
      June 8, 2012 at 4:55 am

      This is a fantastic method! Have you tried to determine how many GB of data do you ultimately have backed-up?

      • LD
        June 8, 2012 at 2:13 pm

        The server has a capacity of 8 terabytes, I'm only using 2 so far. I back up documents, pictures, purchased programs and music to crashplan which totals up to about 500 gigabytes. I don't backup movie rips, or recorded tv.

    • Oscar
      January 24, 2015 at 11:54 pm

      Be careful with raid 5 if you use 1tb disks or bigger, there is a very big chance that you will run into an unrecoverable read error while rebuilding if one of your disks fail and you will lose all your data.

      I'd recommend raid 6 or even better a raidz2 setup with freenas.

  30. naomi
    June 7, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    why save stuff ?
    i just do every thing online
    like watching movies on
    and upload pics on face book ..

    • raymond mcnatt
      June 8, 2012 at 5:47 am

      I agree. I have downloaded all my DVD movies on 2 external hard drives. I use to save everything and I can't tell you when the last time I opened a CD/DVD or flash drive to retrieve a file from one of them. If it is really important I'll put it on flash drive and save it on my computer at work

  31. PerryKahai
    June 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    No matter if external hard drives, NAS systems, or optical media are used, the critical aspect of ANY backup solution is an off-premise backup. If, God forbid, something should happen to destroy one's location (flood, fire, etc.), the backup will go along with it, too, if that is the only solution one has.

    One can have multiple external hard drives or optical re-write media, one of which can be stored in another location (bank vault is an example). The logistics of implementing this will tire out any one.

    Which is why cloud backup fits the bill . . . it is external, it is a backup, and it is mostly secure (assuming one has a very-very strong "key" to encrypt that information). And, now, given multiple free options available, one can backup pictures in one location, documents in another, and music in yet another location (Apple's iCloud, anyone?). There is enough free storage space available free for a home user that one does not have to spend a penny to backup information externally.

    Which brings us to a question: What is the probability of "my house burning down? Since it is very low, I can live without an external backup." Short answer: then don't backup externally! Long answer: one purchases insurance for cars, homes, and other assets not because the probability of them getting damaged or destroyed is high, but because if something does happen, one is not stuck with major losses if a disaster does occur. If the information being backed-up is not critical, one can get away with only an on-location backup. If the information is critical, then taking a risk by not using external backup is not a sound strategy.

    • Matt.Smith
      June 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      I agree about off-site backups. A lot of people say they don't trust cloud storage providers. But I think that the chances of losing an external drive to theft, fire, flood, or just accidental damage is a lot higher than the chance of a cloud service losing you data.

      • PerryKahai
        June 8, 2012 at 4:53 am

        You are absolutely right . . . I was, at one time, one of those who did not trust cloud storage providers. And, you may be right about losing hard drives because of destruction or damage. I think this is where articles like yours come in useful because we are talking about backups, and discussing pros and cons of the various alternatives. If your article helps even one person save his/her information, I think that its value will have been realized.

        Just a small postscript to my comments: one should use cloud providers as an adjunct to on-site backup, not to supplant it. In any case, no backup solution is completely foolproof.

        I think another point that needs to be addressed - possibly in another article on your site - are the risks and benefits of being on the Internet and using its services. This might help people to understand how risky (or not) it is to use ANY of its services. I have come to realize that if you can trust Google, Yahoo, MSN, and others to host your e-mail accounts, you can trust them to be careful with your data, too. I cannot speak for the other providers, but Microsoft, Google, Apple, and the like have built-in redundancies to prevent information loss. Ultimately, how safe one's e-mails, photographs, documents, etc. are with cloud service providers depends on us. If we have lame passwords protecting our information on the Internet, then no matter how much we fear cloud providers, our information will probably be compromised, not because of cloud providers but because we did not protect it with strong passwords. LinkedIn's breach earlier this week will likely result in a large number of user accounts being compromised because of weak passwords used by users. On its side, LinkedIn has taken very good steps to encrypt its users' passwords but it is not the encryption technique that is the weaker link in the chain.

  32. Samsudeen Hussain
    June 7, 2012 at 8:06 pm

    Nearly 6 months back my PC crashed and my hard disk failed. I had backed up some of the important documents on a western digital external drive. Since my hard disk still was under warranty i replaced it with out trying to restore anything hoping that i can get all the data from my external drive.Beleive it or not till date i am unable to locate my external drive.I have no clue how it has disappeared with out a trace. My wife was very angry with me becuase i had also lost the photos of my baby taken during her birth. Luckily i had uploaded a couple of them to facebook hence i was saved to some extend. From that day i have been using crasplan to backup my data. For just $5 you can unlimited storage and it runs smoothly on the background with affecting the internet speed. So i would recommend a service like crashplan along with your other backup method so that you can be more safe.

  33. Mike DeGeorge
    June 7, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I use a 2nd internal 500GB hard drive and a 640GB external USB 2.0 hard drive. I prefer keeping multiple copies of everything. Might even throw some blank DVDs in there. :P

    • Sheikha Akhtar
      June 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm

      I use same as Mike :)

  34. Truefire_
    June 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I use external drives that I plugin once a month and do an image backup to, and then Dropbox, Skydrive and Google Drive for important documents that need minute-to-minute backup.

    If I had more funds, I'd setup a FreeNAS box with a few TB HDD's, connect that to a UPS, and do a weekly backup. Still overkill, but that's what I'd get.

  35. Penko Stoev
    June 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    Have a look at MozyHome:
    4.99/month for 50GB

  36. Reý Aetar
    June 7, 2012 at 6:52 pm

    As far as concerned with movies ,music and other such media which i think consumes max space..........SHARE IT WITH EVERYONE

  37. David Commini
    June 7, 2012 at 6:47 pm

    I'm still all for external HD. Call me old school, but I like to be the only one between me and my data, especially if it is backups of my personal files. Cloud storage might be fine, but I'm not willing to pay a subscription for the same thing I can get for a one time purchase - and the free option for most Cloud services wont even cover most of the individual folders I have. Despite another posters complaint, I have had an external HD for a few years now with no problems; but I have been through a few thumb drives during that same time. Lastly, an external HD can easily be kept in a secure enough location (home safe, safe deposit box, or that one place where you did that one thing that one time) and the information can be easily enough encrypted.

    • Karl Gephart
      June 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm

      I totally agree--external HDs are the way to go. I don't believe in cloud for privacy and reliability. You never know with any company--changes in policies, prices, gone tomorrow. I believe in reducing as many long-term unknown variables as possible. Get several external HDs and mark them to alternate backing up about every week. Each series of four (for a month) should back up one computer only, in case of viruses, etc.

  38. Justin Winokur
    June 7, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    I think the best approach is a hybrid one. I use two external drives running TimeMachine. These are my primary backups both since they are mug faster and store data farther back (not that I have ever needed more than 5 days). Note that the two drives are in different locations. Also, TimeMachine proved full backups of everything

    Then my second line of defense is BackBlaze. They have unlimited storage for 5/month. However, they are much slower and do not hack up system files or applications. But, it's a great second line of defense that also seres as a good backup when I travel.

    Since BackBlaze takes almost no effort and the TimeMachine takes very little, I think I get the best of all of those solutions.

    Oh also, for less important stuff kept soley on an external drive, BackBlaze is its primary backup. That is sufficcient given that if it was of vital importance, I'd keep it on the primary drive.

  39. Laga Mahesa
    June 7, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    There isn't a single hard drive manufacturer with a proven track record of making drives that LAST, not anymore. The most reliable, in my experience, modern drive manufacturer was Samsung with their Spinpoint drives... but that's been swallowed.

    Without reliable, long-lasting drives inside, externals and NAS are a waste of money. I bought two Seagate GoFlex 1TB drives - one died on day two, another died a week later. The replacements I gave away. I bought a WD MyBook - this time the shell died 2 months in, then the drive started clicking half a year later. Half a year!

    Cloud... pffah. Remember Danger, anyone?

    Out of all those choices, though, physical media is the absolute worst, especially in a tropical climate. There's nothing like digging up a backup DVD you made six months ago from a closet only to find the damn thing's gone transparent because the biological dye has rotted away.

    My backup method now is a series of flash drives, Corsair or Patriot... though I'm starting to lose faith in Corsair now so I'm almost entirely on Patriot. Stick a bunch on a keychain, backup your stuff, and chuck in a drawer. No moving parts, no dye, no unreliable internet connection, no BOFH messing with data centres. All that's needed is vigilance - check them every few months and cycle the backups. Since starting this I've had no problems and my dreams have become less filled with nightmares.

    • Matt.Smith
      June 7, 2012 at 10:45 pm

      I hadn't heard of physical media degrading in a tropical environment. But I live in the Pacific Northwest of America.

      And I do share your concerns about reliable external drives. I went looking for a new drive lately and I was a bit shocked by how frequent users were reporting failures, even of drives that were from Western Digital and Seagate. The only one I found that seemed to be reliable was the IOSafe drive...but that's like $200 for 500GB.

      • Laga Mahesa
        June 7, 2012 at 11:07 pm

        Factory-made masters and Gold discs are much more resilient, but even they can't stand up to the humidity. There's only so much you can do to protect against it.

        I haven't checked out the IOSafe, but at that price I'm guessing it's aimed at the 'enterprise'. I wonder how much more actual tooling is required to make such a drive, such as the Seagate ones, so as to justify the extra cost. Even those, though, I'd have a hard time trusting.

  40. Jordan Gregory
    June 7, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I work in a VAR type company and we offer pretty well every one of these options, but my favorite, and the most reliable option by far, was one that you didn't mention. We use two different brands of BCDR (Business Continuity/Disaster Recovery) devices. One is from Datto, the other from Zenith Infotech (Now Continuum). These devices act as the On-Premise NAS as well as the offsite "Cloud" or replication manager. Both of which utilize pretty well the same technology for incremental backup management. It gives us a good way to manage all of the backups that we have to manage at our number of customers. The Bare-Metal restore to a VMWare box is my favorite feature as most of our customers do utilize some form of virtualization. They also give you the ability to spin up virtual machines either on the on premise boxes or within the cloud environment for real Disaster situations. It certainly is the Cadillac of backup solutions, but for someone looking for a less cumbersome way of managing their backups, I suggest both highly.

  41. Denis St-Michel
    June 7, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    For me, I prefer 2 external HD of two different brand, combined with a cloud storage like the one offered by our company (iGOvirtual). One of my external hard drive is kept off-site for better security.

    • Tanguy Djokovic
      June 12, 2012 at 4:53 am

      I agree with you,having 2 ext HD is a better solution.
      I have one with 2To where I save everything
      and a smaller one 250go where I only keep the vitals (papers, pictures...) stuff that matters