A New Kind Of Safety Net

Online data backup takes hold

If you lost your computer in a natural disaster, would you be able to recover any of your data? If you’re like most people, the answer is no. The overwhelming majority of computer users fail to back up on a regular basis even though the data on the computer is probably worth more than the machine itself. Negligence is the biggest reason — most people just aren’t conscientious about backing up their files.

When deciding how to approach backing up important files, consumers face a confusing array of options — tape drives, optical drives and removable hard disks, among others. Besides the expense of the hardware, which ranges from $150 to $400, each tape or removable disk is an additional cost — usually around $99 apiece. Fortunately, there is an alternative to these costly hardware solutions. Online data storage is in many ways cheaper, more reliable and much less complicated than traditional devices.

It is an efficient option that can take the guesswork out of backup decisions and protects data from viruses, theft or natural disasters. Companies that offer online data storage provide simple backup plans that can securely move data from a client’s computer via the Internet or a dial-up connection to an offsite storage facility. This allows clients the ability to back up their computers anytime and anywhere.
Instead of deliberating over tapes, floppy disks and backup schedules, subscribers to online data storage services can make use of provided software that automates the backup process and allows 24-hour access to stored data. Backups are unattended and safer than traditional methods because the data is not vulnerable to any disaster that may strike your office.

We compared the offerings of several online data backup companies to see which has the best mix of features, functionality and price. Of the companies reviewed, many allow clients to customize a backup schedule, designating important files and directories with just a point and click. Connected Corp.’s online backup solution cuts down on the backup processing time by backing up only changes to selected files instead of transmitting unchanged data.

Most storage companies simultaneously back up client data to separate locations, called mirror sites, just in case something happens at their site. Some, like Network Associates (formerly known as McAfee), which also sells anti-virus software, provide virus scans of data as it is being backed up. Users are equipped with an encryption key to their files, and the data is encrypted before it is transferred to the remote site. In the event of data disaster, users have the option of recovering files electronically or having them provided on CD-ROM. Prices for CD-ROM retrieval range from Atrieva’s low of $7.95 per disc to @Backup’s high of $39.95 per disc.

Online data storage is an ideal backup solution for frequent travelers and telecommuters, allowing them to back up critical data on the road. But if you are working from a computer other than your own and you need to access your files, a few companies offer options that allow multiple computers to share an

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