Safely backing up computer data poses a dilemma for all computer users. While it is important to back up files, there are definite pros and cons to the backup methods available. Files can be backed up using external hard drives or various cloud based services. Either of the two methods is far better than not backing up files, but computer users must analyze their needs before determining which backup system best meets their specific needs.
External hard drives are commonly used, especially by anyone with large volumes of data to save. Companies like Seagate and Western Digital offer two and three terabyte drives for under $200. That is a lot of storage for a very modest investment, but there are disadvantages to using external hard drives. First, they are subject to theft, just like any other computer hardware. Second, the data may be lost in the event of a fire or other disaster. Industry experts have, for years, recommended that sensitive data be backed up at off-site facilities to protect against those types of losses.
Recently, cloud backups have become popular. That option allows users to send crucial data to off-site facilities for storage. This eliminates the potential for theft of physical drives or data losses due to some type of disaster. However, potential security issues continue to discourage people from using cloud based backup services. Industry professionals counter this fear by assuring users that encryption and other protections safeguard data. In most cases where security issues have popped up, the breach has been due to users not properly adhering to procedures.
Before making any decisions, it is important to understand that not all files are critical. There are professionals who suggest that non-critical data can be stored using external hard drives. Where data transfer speeds are an issue, it may also be a good idea to store very large files on external hard drives. However, sensitive, difficult to replace data, should still be stored off-site. With the encryption used by better cloud-based storage sites, there is little threat to the data.
No option is perfect, and there is a potential for data loss no matter what type of backup system is employed. However, when all risks are considered, the use of cloud based backups has become increasingly popular. Even large businesses, with huge amounts of data to store, are discovering that cloud based backups provide benefits that far outweigh any potential threats.