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August 03 2012

13:00

How to Backup WordPress Sites to Dropbox

What would happen if all of the hard work you put into your website was all wiped away by a hacker or malicious virus of some kind? It would be difficult to find the motivation to start all over unless you have a backup of some kind. Using your already established Dropbox account, several options are available to Backup WordPress Sites to Dropbox.

To take out some of the work out of backing up your site, below we will show some ways to automate the process and save the backup to Dropbox. The easier and more hands off the process is, the better, right? Below are some WordPress plugins and other options to help you easily backup your WordPress site.

Note: Depending on the size of your site and how much you use your Dropbox account, opening a dedicated Dropbox account for these backups might be a good idea.

1. WordPress Backup to Dropbox

WordPress Backup to Dropbox saves you the hassle of using your FTP client and making a total backup of your WordPress site. The first backup will take some time to complete because everything is being backed up: files, media, and database are all included. WordPress Backup to Dropbox creates a folder in Dropbox. This folder is the only folder this plugin can access.

After the initial full backup, each backup from then on will be an incremental backup. The incremental backups can be scheduled as frequently as daily. The scheduled backups can exclude different file types if desired.

2. BackWPup

BackWPup offers a few features beyond backing up WordPress files. Being a Dropbox user is not required to use BackWPup, other services such as Amazon S3, SugarSync and RackSpaceCloud are also supported.

Exporting the WordPress XML file, Checking, repairing and optimizing the Database are not common features among WordPress backup plugins. Choosing the backup file type (zip, tar, tar.gz, tar.bz2 format) is a nice touch too.

3. Cloudsafe365

Cloudsafe365 is more than just a WordPress backup solution. The backup portion allows for backing up to local servers and Dropbox. The backups will consist of your WordPress Database, Plugins, Current Theme and your Files and Images.

Additionally, Cloudsafe365 offers protection against hacking and Malware. The ability for automated mining and info scraping is removed and your content and images are protected (in plus version). People won’t even be able to right-click on your images to download them. They will need to share your whole post or page, not just the image. The plus version is $15 a month.

4. WordPress SQL Backup

WordPress SQL Backup is not an automated backup. However, the backup is easily created right from your WordPress Dashboard. The backup file is the files in your /wp-content/ folder. The .tar or .gzip files can be downloaded or saved right to your Dropbox account.

5. ManageWP

ManageWP

ManageWP is a full-fledged tool for managing one or multiple WordPress sites. The cost of the service (starting at $6.30 per month) is minimal for the amount of awesome you get. The Standard Package offers security, on click updates of WordPress, Themes and Plugins. Managing all of your sites from one dashboard makes backing them up super easy. Create a backup task, choose the sites to back up and the output destination such as Dropbox. Restoring from a backup is also just as easy.

6. XM Backup

XM Backup is a simple choice to back up and save the files in the /wp-content/uploads folder and the WordPress Database. These are the bulk of the files, including your images and theme .zip, you’ll need if something catastrophic happens. When a backup is created using XM Backup, you can choose the destination of a Dropbox account, Email (of smaller files) or FTP.

Creating a WordPress Backup

To eliminate any doubt as to the difficulty of creating a backup, below is walk-through of the WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin. Only a few steps are needed to create an initial backup and to schedule future backups. I’ll assume you already have a Dropbox account and the WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin installed to your WordPress site.

In the left sidebar in your WordPress Dashboard, mouse over or click on the WPB2D tab to show the 3 options. Choose Backup settings

The first step is to link your Dropbox account to the plugin. Near the top left of the window, click the button to link the two.

You will be taken to the Dropbox site.

Enter in your Dropbox login credentials and authorize WordPress Backup to Dropbox. You should be taken back to your WordPress site when access is granted.

You will see when the next backup is scheduled (which there shouldn’t be anything scheduled), the backup history and settings. If you are using this plugin on several sites and backing up all of the sites to the same Dropbox account, you should check the box and use the subfolder option.

Next you can set the day and time to schedule the future backups. Remember, after the initial backup, only new and changed files are saved. This means choosing the daily backup isn’t all that bad of a choice.

The last part of the setup is choosing any folders to exclude from the backup. It may take a minute for all of the folders to display here so don’t get antsy right away of you don’t see what you’re looking for.

Once everything is set up and scheduled, it’s time to create the initial backup. Go to the left sidebar again and click on Backup Now. Click on the Start Backup button.

Give it a little time and check your Dropbox folder to make sure everything is there. Remember, the initial backup will likely be large and take some time to create.

While these are plugins are built with the purpose of backing up multiple aspects of your WordPress site, if the site has a really large database using the plugin will use considerable system resources. Keep an eye on your site to see if you notice any slowing down or even a crash. This will let you know you might want to look at a more robust server. Every bit of automation helps. The more you can automate the tasks you hate to do, the more money making work you will be able to do.

How have you been backing up your WordPress site?

September 01 2011

10:00

Using Dropbox Like a Pro: Tips and Tricks

Dropbox is a free service that allows you to store all of your documents, photos, and videos online. It is an excellent and free tool for helping you securely store files that are crucial to your business or your life. It allows you to store just about any type of file you can imagine, and Dropbox gives you a generous amount of storage space to keep your files.

Before you start using Dropbox, there are two things you need to do:

First, you want to sign up for an account. It’s absolutely free. (If you decide later that you want to upgrade your account, you may upgrade and get even more storage. Just check the website for further details.)

Now click the link that says Log In. At the bottom of this box you will find a link that says “Create Account.” Click this link and follow the instructions.

 

Next, you’ll want to download the Dropbox utility and create a “Dropbox” on your computer. This is really simple, and you may use Dropbox on a PC, Mac, or even a mobile phone. Download the proper application for your technology and then install it. (You’ll need your username and password for this to log into your account.)

Once you get set up, then open your Dropbox folder and start dragging files into the folder to synchronize with your online account and store your files. Every time you drop a file into this folder it will sync with your files and folders online as long as you have your Dropbox turned on. (The easiest way to make sure this happens is to set your Dropbox application to load when you start-up your computer.)

Getting Started

After you’ve set up your account and added your files, now it’s time to log into your online account and understand all the features available to you.

Your first step here is to click on the Getting Started tab and follow the instructions. This will allow you to make sure you have completed all the steps in setting up your account. You are also offered an opportunity to make referrals and earn more storage space.

Files

On this tab you’ll find your files. Check to make sure you have loaded all of your files, as well as loading them in the right folders. Unless you want others to have access your files, load your files outside of the public folder but inside of the Dropbox folder. Since you can customize this area as you like, create and name your folders anything you want and then load your files appropriately.

Events

Track all your account activity in the Events tab. With the Events tab, you can use it to help you if you accidentally delete files or you lose track of them. Use this tab to help you track down the files and decide where your files went. Event is also an excellent way to decide if any unauthorized activity has taken place in your account. You won’t use this tab much, if at all, but you’ll be glad you have it if you misplace anything.

Sharing

One of my favorite tools on Dropbox is the Sharing tab. The sharing tab makes it super easy to share files and folders with your friends. In fact, there are actually two different ways to do this.

First, you can generate a link to the folder you want to share. To do this, move the folder you want to share to the Public Folder within your Dropbox. Once you have moved the folder, go to the Public Folder and right-click on the file or folder you want to share. This allows you to generate a direct link to the file.

The second way to share files is to email the link to those you want to share them with. Just click “Share a Folder.” Choose the folder you want to share. Follow the prompts on the menu. When you are ready to send, enter the email addresses of those you want to share the files with. Those receiving your email will get a link to the folder and can download the contents.

Help

One of the things I like best about Dropbox, besides its flexibility, is that it offers an extensive help file. Get all your questions answered here. You will also find more applications for your mobile phones. This includes the Blackberry, iPhone, iPad, and Android. (If you are using Dropbox on your computer, you will find applications for Windows, Mac, and Linux.)

Different Ways to Use Dropbox

1. Store your business files and folders. (I store my manuscripts for my books.) With this option, consider storing your files according to purpose or type.

For example, if you have a lot of marketing software you need to back up, then create a folder for it. You may also consider function. I store all the files for website updates I want to complete inside of a folder by that name. I also have a folder for tasks I complete. By creating these folders, it saves me a lot of time locating projects I’m working on.

2. Store videos or any other files you sell. You can even send your buyers directly to the folder where you have stored their purchased files.

Heres’ how you do it: Create an autoresponder and download page. Add the subscription box to your download page so your customers can subscribe. Write an email for your autoresponder and make it the first email in your autoresponder series. Include the download link inside of this email.

3. Keep backups of your backups. If you delete a file, it’s not a problem. Dropbox maintains a copy of all deleted files for up to one month. All you have to do is log into your account and “undelete” the appropriate file. Your files will sync back into your folder on your computer.

4. Take everything with you. It doesn’t matter whether you are using these files on your computer or on your mobile phone, you’ll always have access to them even when you are offline. As I mentioned are apps for iPhone, iPad, Android, and BlackBerry. Download the free app and install it on your phone. This is especially useful if you shoot photos with your camera in your phone.

One consideration: if you are using your mobile phone to get access to your files, you can’t upload files from your phone to your Dropbox. (You can only download.) In this situation, I would recommend you sync your phone and computer. Dropbox allows multiple devices so you will always have access to your files no matter where you are.

Whether you are taking a trip, or you simply want to share photos with friends and families, you can use Dropbox. For example, you are planning a trip out the country. You have an itinerary and other documents related to your trip. You also want a place to store any photos you make so you can share them with family and friends.

By installing Dropbox on all of your devices, this problem is easily solved. Sync your devices every time you make an update, and you’ll have everything you need when you need it and where you need it.

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04:52

November 08 2010

00:28

Using AWS S3 to Power Your Digital World


As a designer, web developer, and techie-geek, I need a versatile and robust data storage solution that I can afford, but also use without learning some new language. So far, I’ve only found one service that can handle the large majority of my needs. This article covers how I use the Amazon Web Services Simple Storage Service (AWS S3) to meet most of my needs.


AWS S3

AWS S3 is Amazon’s cloud storage solution. It’s versatile, reliable, fast, and scalable to fit almost anyone’s needs. Of course with a service that sounds this great you would expect it to be expensive but it’s actually the most affordable storage solution I’ve found on the web, considering the features you get.

Amazon Web Services S3

AWS S3 is intended for developers, but thanks to some great tools, it’s easy enough for just about anyone to use. Before I get into how I use AWS S3, I want to mention that this storage solution doesn’t use the traditional file structure of folders/files, etc. Instead AWS S3 uses “buckets” in which you store objects. The tools I use make AWS S3 appear to be a normal file system with the exception of “buckets”. Think of a bucket as a separate hard drive where you’ll store your files. You might also want to read the Amazon S3 page on Wikipedia. So let’s get on with how I use AWS S3.


AWS S3 + Jungle Disk

I probably use Jungle Disk the most often because it makes it easy to use and manage my AWS S3 buckets, perform automated backups and centralize my data for access anywhere, at any time. When you use Jungle Disk with your AWS S3 account, you decide which of your individual buckets Jungle Disk can mount as a network drive. Then, you have drag-and-drop access to your AWS S3 files! Jungle Disk also encrypts your files, so they’re safe and secure.

Jungle Disk

Jungle Disk has plenty of options for bucket management, automatic backups, encryption, bandwidth limiting, and even more. It also has a monitoring tool to view and manage transfers in progress. It typically runs in the background, but it comes in very handy when you would like to take action on something or just watch what’s going on.

Jungle Disk settings

If you’re worried about cross-platform compatibility, don’t be! Jungle Disk has versions of their software for 32- and 64-bit Windows, Linux and Mac. They even have a version that you can run from a USB flash drive on all three platforms for quick access to your files from anywhere.

Jungle Disk download

Of course, if you forget your flash drive, they also have web access to your files. If you work with other people who need access to your files, Jungle Disk can do that, too. They have multi-user options to make accessing AWS S3 buckets very easy for several people.

Jungle Disk users

So, we have cross-platform cloud storage that’s drag-and-drop easy and that we can access anywhere with tons of great options. What else do we need?


AWS S3 as a “CDN” or Public File Access

Most of you probably have blogs or websites that you have hosted on a web server you pay for. As we all know, quality web hosting isn’t cheap, especially when it comes to storage space. I don’t want to use my expensive web server storage for images and other file downloads and I especially don’t want to bog down my web server with file requests from visitors when there’s a better way to do it.

S3Fox for Firefox

S3Fox is a Firefox addon that lets you manage your AWS S3 buckets and files. Why do we need S3Fox when we could use Jungle Disk? S3Fox does a few things Jungle Disk wasn’t intended for, such as managing CloudFront distributions which we’ll get into later. I’ve setup a bucket called “files.jremick.com” which I plan on using to host images and files for my blog as well as other websites and other random purposes.

S3Fox

Then I setup a CNAME on my web server directing “files” and “www.files” to “files.jremick.com.s3.amazonaws.com.” which will then allow me to use the subdomain “http://files.jremick.com” to access files I’ve placed in the “files.jremick.com” bucket for public viewing. The other two are used by CloudFront which we’ll get into later.

S3 Cname

So now we have an easy way to access files at http://files.jremick.com. We could use it as a sort of “CDN” (even though it wouldn’t be a true CDN) or we could just use it to provide file downloads that won’t bog down our web server. If you’re wondering, yes, you can view and download the panorama image from my S3 account and no, I’m not worried about bandwidth because it’s super cheap! :-) You can find it here: http://files.jremick.com/red-rock-panorama.jpg. Did you notice the “wp-content” directory? Familiar eh? On to using AWS S3 with WordPress!

S3Fox files

AWS S3 plugin for WordPress

The AWS S3 plugin for WordPress is one of my favorite plugins for WordPress because it lets me use my AWS S3 account to host media for my blog rather than my expensive web server. Of course I could do this manually if I wanted but the plugin integrates this functionality with WordPress so I can upload files without leaving my WordPress control panel.

AWS S3 and WordPress

You might be wondering why this is beneficial. Well, for starters, images and other media loaded from your AWS S3 account will likely load faster simply because you’re using Amazon’s servers rather than your own (possibly puny) server. Also, your web server won’t be bogged down loading these media files and your regular PHP/HTML files.

Your website will also load faster for most people because in most browsers you are limited to the number of parallel downloads from a single domain. If you’re hosting your images on your AWS S3 account which will be from a secondary domain then browsers will be able to load more files at the same time. See Maximizing Parallel Downloads in the Carpool Lane for more information.


AWS S3 + CloudFront

OK, so I’ve covered how I use AWS S3 for networked storage as well as for my websites and reducing the load on my web server. If you run a high traffic website (which I don’t) or you’re just a nerd (like me) and want things to run as fast as possible then you’ll want to check out Amazon CloudFront as well.

Amazon CloudFront

Earlier in the article I put “AWS S3 as a ‘CDN’ or Public File Access” with CDN in quotes. The reason I did that is because AWS S3 is NOT a true CDN. A CDN is a Content Delivery Network that delivers your files from a distribution of servers around the world. Visitors get access to your files from the fastest resource available (usually the closest server). AWS S3 only has a few data centers around the world and your data will most likely be in one location making it far from a CDN.

If you want the best speed for visitors across the globe, you’ll want to use a real CDN like CloudFront. Thankfully Amazon has made it super easy to use these services together. I’ve already signed up for CloudFront and now I just need to configure it using S3Fox.

CloudFront distribution

Simply right click on the bucket you want distributed to Amazon’s CloudFront and click “Manage Distributions”. From here you can configure your CloudFront distribution. You’ll be assigned a unique domain for the distribution; “d1i7xb2p8w9276.cloudfront.net” is what this distribution has been assigned.

I’ve also used “cdn.jremick.com” as the CNAME for this distribution so I can access the files at http://cdn.jremick.com. You’ll see the status as “InProgress” until the distribution has been deployed and the status will change to “Deployed”.

CloudFront distribution

Then I setup the CNAME on my web server.

CloudFront CNAME

Now when I request files at http://cdn.jremick.com they will be requested from the CloudFront servers which will pull the files from your AWS S3 account and cache them for all subsequent requests.

There are some disadvantages to CloudFront (and other true CDNs) though. Once a file has been cached on the CloudFront servers, it won’t be requested from your AWS S3 account again. That means you’ll need to version your files (filename_v1.css, filename_v2.css, etc.) so they’ll actually reflect the changes for your users. It’s a great service but it really is intended more for high traffic purposes. In most situations for average people with blogs, AWS S3 will do just fine. I will be using CloudFront to host JavaScript, CSS and other static files though, just because I’m a nerd and I want performance! :-)


AWS S3 + S3Sync = Automated Offsite Server Backups

I’m a worry wart when it comes to losing data. My web server hosts around 20 accounts for other people and it’s very important to make sure all that data is backed up, safe and secure. That’s where S3Sync comes in. I can use it to automatically backup my web server to a specified AWS S3 bucket.

Here, I’ve jumped into Transmit (FTP for Mac with AWS S3 support) and logged into my AWS S3 account. I’m looking at my “servintbackups” bucket which shows the different backup folders. Each night the backups are updated automatically on my AWS S3 account.

servintbackups

If you would like to do this as well check out these tutorials.


Conclusion

Using AWS S3 and a variety of tools I’ve managed to get a lot for a little.

  • Centralized file access in the cloud, anywhere, on any platform.
  • Automated backups for desktop and server computers.
  • Web access to your files.
  • Media hosting outside of your web server to reduce load and speed things up.
  • Easy to setup “CDN” and/or providing file access for users.
  • Easy to setup true CDN with CloudFront.

As I said earlier as well, AWS S3 is built for developers; so if I do need to use it for even more solutions, then the opportunity is there.

As great as AWS S3 is, it may not fit the bill for every problem you have. For instance, AWS S3 servers don’t gzip files and backing up 200GB of data (like an iTunes library) would cost $30 per month vs. $5 or $10 per month on other services. AWS S3 is just one of the tools I use among many.

Do you use AWS S3? Or do you prefer another similar solution? Tell us about it in the comment!

This article was originally posted on the ThemeForest blog. We are currently porting over some of the more popular articles to Nettuts+.

October 26 2010

13:00

How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow

Advertisement in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow  in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow  in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow

by Rafiq Elmansy

High scale enterprises with a large number of employees have their own regular backup routines that are obligatory to maintain. Especially these firms face a high risk of losing valuable data; we are all familiar how prone computers are to crashes and that they have to be well protected against viruses.

While the importance of the backup process increases in larger scale companies, many small companies and freelancers who run a small business don’t allocate the backup process at the same level of importance in their company routine. This should be well thought out and can prevent unforeseen loss of data and by all means keep the business running smoothly.

Backup Screen Bn in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow

Although a small business has less hardware and workflow compared to a large company, they still face the same risks. You will find numerous people who have lost a large amount of work, sometimes even whole projects, due to a virus that had attacked their computer or have experienced an unfortunate system crash. Such a disaster can affect one’s time, project files and costs which are the main important factors in any project. It’s worth the time and effort to plan a backup process, add it to your daily tasks and schedule a time to backup your work on a regular basis.

In this post, we will discuss the backup process and how to apply it to small firms as well as freelance businesses; the different types of backups you can do and exactly which devices to use for your backup process. Tools and softwares you can also use will be introduced. First, let us start by understanding the backup process and its different types.

Backup methods

The backup refers to the process where a copy of the data is taken and saved to be retrieved in case the original data is lost or damaged. The risk of data loss occurring is around 66% — a statistic found on Wikipedia. There are many backup methods as we will see below; these types are based on how each method interacts with the content, updates and information. Most backup tools and software provide the option to create one or more of the following types:

Full backup

This is the standard concept of a backup process and the starting stage for other backup methods. Full backups take a copy of all the files, including both the data and the overall structure. The full backup isn’t performed frequently; usually after major changes in the system, such as changing the operating system or a large number of files being modified. It is also done as the starting point for any other backup method. The advantage of this method is that it’s the simplest. The disadvantage is that the backup file is very large and it also takes the longest time to restore the data.

Differential backup

In most cases, the changes only affect small amounts of data or specific folders; the full backup wouldn’t be necessary in this case. The differential backup is the next method to backup files and it requires a full backup at the beginning. In this method, you take a backup of the files that are changed in comparison to the base full backup.

For example, if you make a full backup of your system on day one, the differential backup on day two only saves the files that have changed since day one. On day three, the differential backup saves the changes that have occurred since the first full backup on day one. The advantage of this method is that it takes less time to restore the saved backup. The disadvantage of this is that the frequent backing up using this method produces files that can be larger than the full backup file itself.

Incremental backup

This method is similar to the differential backup. The only difference is that this type saves the changes from the last backup whether it is full, differential or another incremental backup. The advantage of this process is that it takes less time to complete as it only saves the changes from the last backup. The disadvantage of this backup type is that it takes a long time to restore the data because each previous backup must be processed before completing the restore action. Although all the backup applications depend on the full backup as the initial backup process, these tools may implement two or more backup methods.

Each of the above methods varies in the final size of the backup. It is important to determine the backup output or the device you will choose for the backup as we will see later in choosing the backup devices.

Backup in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow

Backup only what you need to backup

The backup is one of the most crucial regular steps in your schedule. It consumes time, effort, hardware and cost. The backup process must be well organized to avoid mistakes and excessive time consumption. While many people aim to categorize the backup files based on their type, it is important to keep in mind these two main factors while choosing the backup type:

1) Only backup the necessary files (such as project source files), important documentation (such as contracts), project documents and plans. Also backup the files that are hard to find again or already located on the web, such as free software, browsers, source files and so on. Minimizing the backup of these files will help in reducing the size of the output files; the backup and restore processes will also take less time.

2) Plan your backup structure carefully and how you actually want to backup your files. Actually, it is more related to your own arrangement of the files and how you arrange your projects source files. Implementing the same arrangement would prevent becoming lost in the middle of many projects and files and avoid any mistakes. Such mistakes usually happen because of the confusion between your own files arrangement and the backup arrangement.

How to choose backup devices

As mentioned, backups depend on saving data in another location to be able to retrieve it if the original data is lost or corrupted. The backup process uses the available storage technologies to store the files. Throughout the history of the computer and even before it, there were many forms to save data from punched cards to magnetic tapes, and finally hard disks and Blu-ray technology. Storage media is constantly improving by increasing in capacity and applying new technologies as well as further developing existing technology. While the devices change based on technology, choosing a suitable storage device for the backup depends on some important points when choosing the device:

The storage capacity

The storage devices vary in capacity and their ability to save large files; you should put this into consideration when choosing the best storage media if you plan to create frequent backups.

The price

The cost of the backup device is one of the most important issues that you should consider as you may need to use more than one device based on their storage capacity. If you are using online backup tools, you should consider the cost of the storage space and if you will eventually need extra space on the server to host your files.

The ability to extend or rewrite

Rewritable devices are more flexible and allow adding more content each time you create the backup instead of using a new device each time. Also, the extended devices can help you keep all the files in one place instead of spreading it across multiple devices.

Durability

Durability is essential in backup media as its sole purpose is to store files in case of an emergency. When determining suitability, the question is how easy will the data corrupt under normal circumstances?

Portability

If your business requires a lot of moving, then you need to think about the portability of the device as well as it’s durability throughout.

The transfer speed

When you transfer the backup data from the computer to the device, you need to have a fast transfer media to achieve this in the least time-consuming manner; therefore is the speed of transferring data another factor to put into consideration when buying the backup hardware. Transfer speed is one of the most important factors in online backup storage. Although it is mainly dependent upon your internet connection speed, the server transfer speed varies throughout the day.

Backup devices

Storage devices vary based on the above factors and are updated frequently with new technologies and storage capabilities. The following briefly summarize storage media based on their type.

Optical discs

This includes CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray discs; they vary on their storage size and their rewrite-ability as following:

Compact Discs (CDs):

CDs are the lowest sized optical storage devices; they come in CD-R, or CD-RW which allow rewriting content on the CD many times. They can save up to 700 MB; more information can be found here.

Advantages:
CDs are cheap, portable and compatible with both DVD-ROM and CD-ROM drives.

Disadvantages:
Low capacity, can easily be damaged or scratched and are known as one of many non-secured media.

Digital Versatile Discs (DVDs):

This is the next stage in developing optical discs and has greater storage space compared with CDs. DVDs can store up to 4.7 GB. DVDs are commonly used these days when compared with CDs because of their storage ability which was the main problem with CDs.

Advantages:
DVDs share the advantages of CDs but also have the ability to store larger content up to 4.7 GB.

Disadvantages:
The disadvantages of DVDs are the same as CDs and also they aren’t compatible with older disc drives.

Blu-ray discs

Blu-ray discs are the latest optical technology that supersede DVDs. They also allow storing massive amounts of data that can reach 25 GB for single layer discs and 50GB for double layer discs.

Advantages:
Blu-ray discs have similar plus points just like other optical discs, in addition to the ability to store large amounts of data. This is why it is mainly used for PlayStation video games and to store HD video.

Disadvantages:
Its price is still quite high, compared to other optical discs and its storage capacity. Also, blu-ray discs drives are not commonly used compared to other discs drives.

Hard Disks

Hard disks have been developed a lot and have massive storage capabilities. Hard disks let you store large data that can reach TBs. It is the most commonly used and largest storage media. Hard disks implement different interfaces to transfer data such as using ATA, SCSI, SATA, USB, FireWire and eSATA.

Advantages:
Hard disks have a large storage size that increases dramatically and its price is consistently falling. Also, it ensures fast data transfer along with the easy ability to rewrite and update content. Unlike optical discs, hard disks can be secured and allow adding passwords to the content.

Disadvantages:
Hard disks are easily damaged, especially when in transit. They should be treated with great care and not moved excessively.

USB Flash Drives

USB memory sticks are an easy, portable substitution for hard disks that can be easily carried and transported with far higher durability than normal disks. Their storage capacities vary and expand as technology itself develops.

Advantages:
USB Flash drives are the most suitable portable devices as they are easy to transport and durable against shocks compared with other storage devices. Also, it can be easily attached to a computer and function in a similar way to Hard Drives.

Disadvantages:
Due to its light weight and small size, USB Flash drives can be easily lost. Also, their prices are higher than hard disks per gigabyte.

Remote backup

With the increasing speed of the internet and the ability to transfer large amounts of data in a short space of time, remote backup is becoming one of the most efficient solutions to store backups, especially in large disasters that can happen in the workplace or company location. The remote backup saves the data using an encrypted format to remote storage servers where the data can be removed or downloaded when required. Remote backups, either through the internet or network can be a good solution to store data in a secure place and retrieve the data without the need to transport it or move it as is the case when using the other storage devices above.

Advantages:
It provides better secured data storage as the data is saved in a different location from the source data. Also, its storage avoids being transported which reduces the chance of the files corruption. Remote backup methods are more extendable than other methods as the data is stored in locations created especially for this reason and you can download the data or restore it from anyplace. On the other hand, the saved data is secured by a secret key that prevents viewing the data without it.

Disadvantages:
The biggest disadvantage of remote backup is the price; it is expensive to buy storage space compared with other methods. Also, it requires a fast internet connection to work properly and not to cause any delay. Generally, choosing the backup device depends on your needs and business requirements; you have to select the best method that fits with the stored data and how it should be handled.

Backup applications

Choosing the right backup application or tool is the next step to complete your backup system and arrange the backup process. In this stage, we will look at the backup applications we can use to perform the backup. These applications can be freeware, shareware or paid applications depending on its policy which can be updated.

As mentioned above, the backup can be done through offline backup storage, such as optical discs and hard disks, as well as online backups through the network or the internet. Therefore, backup applications can be categorized as either offline tools and online tools. While some of the offline tools may allow you to upload the backup files to remote servers, they are mainly designed to do the backup offline on the local machine and then give you the ability to upload it. Also, it does not provide online storage similar to the full online backup tools that we will see later.

Offline backup tools

These tools can be used to backup files and store them on storage devices that were discussed earlier. The following list includes some of the commonly used backup tools:

Cobian Backup 10 (Freeware – Win)

Backup Screen01 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow

It is a multi-threaded application that you can use to backup files and folders from the local machine and store them in another destination or upload it to an FTP account. Cobian backup can save the stored files in both a compressed and non-compressed format.

DeltaCopy (Freeware – Win)

Backup Screen02 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
DeltaCopy is an open source backup tool that is based on the incremental backup method to save the files. It reduces the backup and restores time. DeltaCopy can run based on a scheduled time with one click to restore the saved files.

AceBackup (Freeware – Win)

Backup Screen03 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
With Acebackup, you can store the backed up files on different storage media as well as the ability to upload the backup files to a remote FTP account. Also, it supports different compression and encryption methods for the files. Similar to other backup tools, it can be scheduled to do the backup process in specified times.

SyncToy (Freeware – Win)

Backup Screen04 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
SyncToy is basically a synchronization application between files and folders and it can create backup copies of these files and folders. SyncToy’s new version includes better error handling than the previous one. In addition to the new features, it also includes the ability to filter files based on one or more attributes and manage folders through the command line interface.

Personal Backup (Freeware – Win)

Backup Screen05 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Personal-backup saves the backup files to both local and remote storage locations with the ability to include or exclude folders and files based on manual selection or using filters. It maintains the original files architecture and compresses the files as Gzip or Zip.

Allway Sync (Freeware – Win)

Backup Screen06 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Allway Sync is a free, personal backup tool that allows you to backup files and folders as well as synchronizes them with an easy to use interface. It can also backup files on local devices or through the network.

Hinxsoft (Freeware – Win)

Backup Screen07 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Hinxsoft backup tool allows automatic backup of files and folders with multi-language support. This application is written in Java and comes with a simple interface. The backed up files can be saved on local devices or FTP using SSL and SFTP.

Comodo BackUp (Freeware – Win)

Backup Screen08 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Comodo is a free backup and recovery application that includes some useful features in addition to the ordinary backup features such as quickly restoring data, multiple compression options, email notification with the backup status and securing features through password and data encryption.

SyncBackSE (Commercial with 30 days trial version- Win)

Backup Screen09 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
SyncBackupSE saves files with ‘fast backup’ and ‘smart synchronization’. It keeps the previous backup versions and creates a new version with every new backup.

Acronis Backup and Security (Commercial with free trial – Win)

Backup Screen10 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Acronis is another commercial backup tool; it lets you schedule the backup process and create encrypted backup content. It also provides a secure backup for files and gives you the ability to adjust your system resources such as the CPU and bandwidth allocated to the Acronis backup process. Acronis allows you to recover files from different points in the backup version as well, so you can revert to the points where the data isn’t corrupted, and it provides protection to multiple computers at the same time.

ChronoSync (Commercial with demo version available– Mac)

Backup Screen11 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
ChronoSync is a Mac backup application that provides a tool to synchronize files, backup files and create bootable backups where you can boot to your backup files and run your Mac from the backup. Similar to the rest of the backup tools, ChronoSync provides a scheduled sync of your files.

Tri-Backup 5 (Commercial – Mac)

Backup Screen12 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
It is an easy to use backup utility for your Mac files and folders as it provides the ability to create a bootable copy of the hard disk, compression and encryption for the files, automatic upgrades and the ability to work in the background while your applications are running.

SuperDuper (Commercial with free limited version – Mac)

Backup Screen13 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
This utility includes common backup tasks along with simple and clear language. Also, it is working perfect with both Intel and Power PC Macs.

Carbon Copy Cloner (Freeware – Mac)

Backup Screen14 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
It is a free backup application that lets you backup, synchronize and clone your data using the incremental backup to create fast backups since it only saves the changes that happened based on the previous version of the backup data. Carbon Copy archives the items that have been deleted from the source and backs up the files to the hard drive or a disk image.

Online backup

Online backup tools depend on storing files as encrypted data on the server where you register a specific space and pay for it on a monthly or annually basis. The following online backup applications provide examples of online tools and how they work.

Acronis Online Backup (Commercial with free trial- Win)

Backup Screen15 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Acronis provides an online backup tool that lets you backup data up to 250GB with full security and protection. Also you can use it to store your data and download it from anywhere without the need to transport your data everywhere you go. Acronis Online Backup subscription can be either on a monthly or a yearly plan. You can use the account to backup one or more PCs or laptops.

Carbonite (Commercial with free trial – Win)

Backup Screen16 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Carbonite provides different subscription plans to join their backup service which include one, two or three year periods. Carbonite provides secure online storage for the backup by using up-to-date encryption.

Mozy (Commercial – Win and Mac)

Backup Screen17 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Mozy is one of the most comprehensive online backup utilities that provides encryption for the backed up data as well as automatic detection of changes in the files and backing up. On the other hand, it supports the backup of open and locked files and an automatic, scheduled backup. Mozy is using the incremental backup method to store the files and lets you decide the bandwidth you would like to dedicate for the backup process. Mozy provides a free account that includes 2 GB of free backup space to trial without the need to add any payment information.

IDrive (Commercial – Win and Mac)

Backup Screen18 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
This utility is using the incremental method and saves only the changes that occur in the files; this saves a lot of space and increases the backup speed and can be helpful in the online backup process. IDrive provides other features such as the option to automate the backup of common files such as photos, documents and videos. IDrive can detect changes in files and back it up every 10 minutes as well as apply encryption to it. Also, it can backup open and locked files, external hard drives and restore data from anywhere using the fast search feature. You can try IDrive through the free account which provides 2 GB free storage to store files and backup data.

Dropbox (Commercial – Win and Mac)

Backup Screen19 in How to Integrate an Efficient Backup into your Workflow
Dropbox includes file sync, file sharing and online backup for your files. It enables automatic updates for the files, even if you are working offline, as once you connect your computer to the internet, Dropbox starts to synchronize the files and makes sure you have the latest updates on the server. Through the paid account, you can undo file changes to an unlimited number of versions. You can try Dropbox through their free account with 2 GB of space and undo for up to 30 days.

Conclusion

The backup process has a variety of different methods and options to choose from. You should now be able to choose the most suitable backup storage media and utility that meets your business needs, whether it is a backup process for your company or your freelance projects. After reading this post, you should be aware of the different methods and options available and be able to utilize the backup process workflow that fits with your business and the files you wish to backup.

In addition to the above information, you can find more information about the backup process and understand the different backup applications in Melissa Scroggins’ article Knuckle Down and Back Up. In this article, you will find more applications and useful links to backup-related topics and sites. Always be on the safe side — don’t forget to backup!

About the author
Rafiq Elmansy is a graphic designer and runs his own design studio Pixel Consultations. He is also an Adobe Community Professional, Certified Expert and Adobe user group manager. He is a Friend of Icograda (the International Council of Graphic Design Associations). Read his latest book Photoshop 3D for Animators. You can read his writings on Adobe site, Adobe Edge magazine, communitymx.com and his own blog www.graphicmania.net. He can also be followed on Twitter.

June 22 2010

10:00

Secure Yourself: Backup Solutions for Designers and Developers

Nowadays every thing is digital – whether it’s your photos, music or any other personal and business documents, everything is stored on the digital media, it’s our present and definitely it’s future!

Apart from its advantages it has several disadvantages too and we will look at pros and cons right here to provide you with solution!

Some main risks to important data are:

  • Technical Malfunction or Error
  • Catastrophic Events
  • Espionage or Sabotage

These risks can be avoided by taking regular backups. Taking backup is a main principle of data security. You have two options for backup purpose, one is remote backup and the other is online backup. Using remote backups you still got many problems and risks to your data, you have to use lock safes, strong boxes, or other security measures to make them secure.

This is the reason we prefer online backup rather than remote. By using an online backup service you can secure your data with a very little cost as compared to the cost you would have to bear for the security of remote backup.

This method is also very fast, setup and installation process is a matter of downloading a software and just install it. You can easily search the data you want to recover: you don’t have to go through a whole bunch of cabinets to find your desired backed up data.

So looking at the importance of the online backup, today we have covered top 5 services which provide backing up services at very low-cost and offer very admiring services.

1. DropBox

Quick Look:

  • File Sync
  • File Sharing
  • Online Backup
  • Web Access to all data
  • Mobile Device Access
  • 2GB Free, Paid packages starts from $9.99 / month

Dropbox is all in one tool for Online backup, File sync and File sharing and my personal choice. Unlike other applications which only sync files or put file online or tackle only backup, Dropbox is an application which provides all of these features in the single application.

Cost

Using File Sync feature of Dropbox you get 2GB of online storage for free which is to be increased to 100GB by getting pro plans. You can sync any type of file or of any size. With support of Windows, Mac and Linux applications it is the most comprehensive solution so far. Following is the chart of its cost and space provided.

After installing the Dropbox, these will be a folder in you’re “My Documents” named “My Dropbox”. Any file copied or moved in that folder will be uploaded to the servers of Dropbox and will be synchronized, and your can also access them from any computer from with Dropbox installed and from the Dropbox website using your username and password. N ow instead of using emails for sending some files you can use Dropbox which makes the process of transferring files very easy and unproblematic. If you can large number of files which you have to send to clients or coworkers then simply add them in public folder, copy the link which is publically accessible, give it to your co-workers or clients and you can have them download the files and documents. You can also make shared folders and invite other people to view the content which make Dropbox perfect for large business organizations with large number of employees.

Photo Gallery

Another great feature of Dropbox is built-in Photo Gallery. You can drag the photos in “Photos” folder and they will be available online for viewing in Photo Gallery of your Dropbox.

Dropbox also supports iPhone, iPad and Android based devices which is most important thing nowadays. You can access your Dropbox, view files and folders, download files, take photos and videos and sync them to your Dropbox, share links to files and export your files to other applications using these applications for your mobile devices. In the end we would like to say that Dropbox is 1st priority if you want to have Online backup solution because of its diversified features. Some may think it is bit expensive but we say if we account its performance and services then it is not much expensive. We use DropBox here on 1WD and we highly recommend it to you.:)

2. Mozy

Quick Look:

  • Safest Backup service
  • Unlimited space
  • 100% automatic
  • Staring from $4.95 / month

Mozy is the second backup storage solution that we are reviewing. In security Mozy gets a perfect score. It is considered as the most secure online data backup service as Mozy use 128-bit SSL encryption to ensure it is not intercepted. It also uses 448-bit Blowfish encryption to prevent someone from getting to your data on the Mozy’s servers. MozyPro also uses military-grade 256-bit AES encryption, making it the most secure service of online storage and backup solution.

Mozy uses different levels of security and privacy policies to get you data secured. Using Mozy you can get very large amount of control over what kind of backups should be taken and when. You can set up these setting once and then the rest is duty of Mozy. You can set automatic backups and choose to upload your important files on daily or weekly basis. You can also manage the memory usage of the Mozy which will help you to avoid your computer being slowed down. You can download your file and documents from any computer without installing the application on that specific computer. After the initial backup, Mozy only backs up new or changed portions of files, saving bandwidth and ensuring future backups are super fast. It automatically recommends important files to back up, you can select or deselect from them. You can also create a schedule as to when you want your backups to be performed.

Cost

It provides two plans, one is MozyHome and other is MozyPro. Following are the pricing of both the MozyHome and MozyPro.

MozyHome Price

MozyPro Price

Mozy supports Windows and Mac but it do not supports any mobile devices like iPhone or Android, while other services have specially designed applications for this purpose. We think it is computer backup services that’s y they didn’t added this feature but in coming 2 or 3 years this feature will be compulsory and to remain in the market, Mozy should focus on that loophole. Mozy is best choice for people who want extreme security of their data in a low price. This was designed as backup services but now it is 1 of the best online storage of your files with very co-operative help and support department. It has very easy to use interface. In short, Mozy is a best service for backup solution.

3. Carbonite

Quick Look

  • Unlimited Backup Capacity
  • Completely Automatic
  • Secure and Encrypted
  • Easy File Recovery

Carbonite is very easy to use and installs quickly. After installation you can choose automatic process for storing only your desired files. Selecting a file for backup is extremely easy, you just right-click a file then select Carbonite and it will automatically store to the service for you.

Carbonite backup service encrypts your data twice on your computer and then stores them encrypted on their secured data servers, making them virtually impossible to be misused. Carbonite offers unlimited storage space, automatic scheduled backups, remote access to your files and much more. You can restore your stored files from anywhere and from any computers. You can configure automatic backups to perform backups on daily basis; other options are also available like hourly basis backup.

It provides double encryption and redundant storage all files are sent via SSL connection and the Carbonite team members cannot see your files making your data extremely secure.

Cost

  • Five-Year Subscription for $199.95
  • Three-Year Subscription for $129.95
  • Two-Year Subscription for $99.95
  • One-Year Subscription for $54.95

Carbonite is a very good backup option for those who need remote access to their files and unlimited storage in a very reasonable price which is less than $5 per month (yearly subscription). It is also good for lazy people who forget to back up their data manually: totally automatic.

4. SugarSync

Quick look

  • Remote access
  • Supports Mac and Windows
  • Customer Phone Support
  • Sync as many computers as you want
  • 30 Days Free Trail. Pro Packages starting from $4.99 / Month

SugarSync is a great way to store, share, and mobilize your files and data. It really is a comprehensive solution for online storage, online file sharing/collaboration, and multiple computer syncing.

SugarSync offers features of backup, sync, sharing files and remote access to your data from anywhere where internet is available. Apart from these, it offers very interesting advance features. It is very simple but powerful tool. You just have to select files to sync then you can take rest: now its responsibility of SugarSync to do what you have suggested it to do. You can share your files with family, friends and co-workers. SugarSync runs in background and is fully automatic.

Cost

SugarSync offer its services as low as $4.99/month. It has the following Complete Tariff Plan.

SugarSync offers very flexible sharing, it mobilize your files and data. You can access your data not only from your computer but from anywhere in the world using internet and your cell phones. You can send a secure link of your files to friend or co-worker: no need to attach documents in email or other portable media. It saves five previous versions of file so you can easily revert them if needed.

5. IDrive

Quick Look

  • Keeps deleted files for 30 days for free
  • 128-bit SSL encryption
  • Works behind firewalls
  • Saves up to 30 versions of file
  • 2GB Free, Pro Plans Starting from $4.95/month

IDrive offers everything you will want to see in an online backup service. Using IDrive you can manage your multiple accounts through a single account. You can set it to work through a connection via proxy connection also. When you install IDrive for the first time, a default selection of most commonly backed up data including Documents, Pictures and Videos is created with a random after hours schedule. You can customize the selection and schedule afterwards. It automatically recognizes the modified parts of files or folders and backs then up after every 10 minutes. IDrive performs reliable backups of pen/locked files like Outlook files, QuickBooks, MS-Excel and others. You can drag-n-drop files for restore from your online drive to the local system.

Cost

IDrive provide 2GB for free and in case you need more storage space then you can upgrade to Pro version. The tariff of IDrive Pro is as follows

IDrive retains and allows you to restore the last 30 versions of a file and the old version are stored of free means it will not cost you your purchased web space. You can login via any browser to your account to access the data, restore data and view log reports. IDrive uses enhanced security with 128-bit SSL encryption on transfers, 256-bit AES encryption on storage with a user defined key. That key is not stored anywhere on IDrive servers. It transfers only modified files which can be very handy if you don’t have unlimited bandwidth connection.

That is all for this review. You feedback, comments, suggestions are always welcome and it is a way for us to know what are our weak points and loopholes.

Which application do you use for backing up your data?

April 23 2010

11:10

Knuckle Down and Back Up

Advertisement in Knuckle Down and Back Up
 in Knuckle Down and Back Up  in Knuckle Down and Back Up  in Knuckle Down and Back Up

By Melissa Scroggins

Have you put off backing up your work? Too complicated, right? Like many, backing up your work becomes a chore that is put off and put off and finally, put out of mind. When you realize you need a backup, it’s probably too late. A glitch occurs in the middle of a project, and you don’t have last week’s video files. Maybe you’ve lost a whole month or more of photos, vector art, or numerous hand coded website templates, and are left with an error code blinking on the screen.

First things first, don’t wait until there is a problem. A good idea is to implement a simple backup strategy now. Don’t fuss over every detail, since doing so will prolong the process and reduce the likelihood that you’ll make use of the backup strategy.The following article is intended as an information resource for those of you who haven’t gotten into the habit of backing up your work, are not concerned with every technological detail, and want to develop a backup solution right now. The backup info on hardware, software, and online companies, is simplified to take the fuss out of the whole backup process and to get started on the process of backing up your work now instead of later.

Prepare

A simple answer to the following question is the best preparation. What do you need to back up? A backup is a copy of data. This copy is used in case the original data is lost, corrupted, or as a method to restore your system after a disaster. In order to fully prepare for a backup strategy, the primary focus should begin with what needs to be backed up.

Let’s look at some common backup needs which may include: daily files, large (media) files, a hard drive backup, and a bootable backup from which you can restore your system. A good idea is to think of all the data you work with on a daily basis. In one day, you may check your e-mail, write e-mail, save e-mail attachments, write a business invoice, modify a calendar entry, add bookmarks to your browser, screencaps of a website your working on, upload a few photos, and a ton of other little things.

Your needs may differ, but here are some ideas to get you started on what you may need to backup:

Daily Files

  • E-mail;
  • Word processing files;
  • Random photos, PNG’s, GIF’s, and JPEG’s;
  • Browser bookmarks;
  • Spreadsheets;
  • and E-mail attachments.

Media Files

  • Videos;
  • Digital photographs;
  • Scans of photos and slides;
  • Adobe document files (.PSD,.AI,etc.);
  • Audio files;
  • Slideshows;
  • Music purchased online;
  • and movies purchased online.

Security Sensitive Files

  • Banking files;
  • Financial software files;
  • Tax software files;
  • Calendar entries;
  • and address book entries.

By addressing your backup needs, you’ll discover whether your data storage requirements are minimal or quite substantial. For some, the data change each day is less than 1GB, while others may find their files exceed 10GB on a regular basis. In either case, you’ll have a better grasp of how much storage space you’ll need.

Further Reading

Choice #1: Hardware

(Already have your hardware equipment? Skip ahead to the Software Section.)

Your first choice is to choose some kind of hardware equipment to backup your work. There are a ton of hardware options (iPods, magnetic tape, etc.), but the less complicated you make your backup, the more likely you’ll use the backup strategy.

Let’s begin by limiting the hardware options to CD’s, DVD’s, USB flash drives, and external hard drives. Since these are common data storage mediums, the hardware is easy to find and fits most budgets. We’ll start by examining some pros and cons of each data storage medium. This is a quick primer on common backup equipment.

Compact Discs

Compact Discs (or CD’s) are a common storage medium. Two common types of CD’s are the CD-R (CD Recordable) and the CD-RW (CD Re-Writable).

Basically, the CD-R (write once read many aka WORM) is burned once and can hold about 700MB of data storage, while the CD-RW can be burned multiple times. An advantage of the CD-R is the data can’t be modified from the original since the cd is burned only once.

Other advantages for using CD’s are: the longevity (depends on handling, labels, storage,etc.), universal media format (so in the future, family members can have access to the data since the format is not obscure), and the inexpensive price of discs. A common disadvantage is the possibility of scratching or damage to the surface of the disc. Let’s face it, CD’s are cheap, portable, and available for almost any budget.

Digital Video Discs

Digital Video Discs (or DVD’s) are another common storage medium. The advantage of DVD’s over CD’s is that they store around 4.7GB (common capacity) of data, which reduces the number of discs needed to backup and allows larger chunks of data to be saved. Two common choices are DVD-R and DVD-R+, which allow data to be burned once.

DVD’s also share the longevity, portability, and universal media format of CD’s. Another advantage for DVD’s is that they are a common format for movies. However, DVD’s also share the same disadvantage of being scratched or damaged as easily as CD’s.

USB Flash Drives

A USB Flash Drive is essentially, a small external storage device with a USB interface. They can be called pen drives, flash drives, jump drives, thumb drives, and a variety of other names. The drives can come in a standard brushed metal case or a novelty case (like a plastic replica of sushi) that can be worn on a keychain or a lanyard. The capacity of data storage can range from a 1GB to over 250GB’s.

The disadvantages of flash drives are the possibility of misplacing the drive due to their size, failure due to overwriting, and the expense per GB in comparison to other storage media formats. The advantages of flash drives are that they are convenient, portable, less fragile than some formats, removable, universal media format(since most computers have USB), and re-writable.

External Hard Drives

External hard drives are portable computer components, separate from the main computer, which store data. The external hard drive is likely connected to the main computer by a USB, Firewire, or other cable. The drive can sit on the desk or work surface, and can be easily stored offsite for security and safety.

Disadvantages of external drives are the likelihood of damage when moving the drive and power requirements. The advantages of the external drive range from the storage capacity of the drive (available in TB’s now), speedy transfer rates for data, long-term storage capability, security, and ability to move offsite.

Further Resources

Once you know how much data you need to copy, you’ll have a better idea of how much storage space you’ll need for your backups. After reviewing the different storage format mediums, a good choice for daily files might include CD’s, DVD’s, and/or USB flash drives, which are quick and often inexpensive solutions. For large media files and bootable backups, an external drive might be your best bet for providing the safety and security for your data. However, the choice is yours to make as these are simply guidelines to help get you started.

Choice #2: Software

(Already have your backup software, skip ahead to review the Online Backup Services or Strategy Sections.)

Now that you have your hardware, you need backup software. Backup software often comes bundled with external drives, which is convenient but may not offer the features you need. However, you can also find freeware, shareware, donationware, and commercial backup software online. Of course there are online backup services too. Often times, a combination of some or all of these is the best compromise.

Freeware

Paragon Backup & Recovery Free Edition 10.1 (Win)
Free for Non-commercial Use. Features: Cyclic backup, exact copy of your PC, differential backups, scheduler, and automation.

Paragon1 in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Easeus Todo Backup 1.1 (Win)
Free for home use, noncommercial, small business and enterprises for their special needs. Features: Backup system partition to image, restore system partition by bootable CD, create a bootable CD, and restore hard drive.

Easeus in Knuckle Down and Back Up

SyncBack Freeware 3.2.20 (Win)
Free for personal, educational, charity, government, and commercial use. Features: Backup and synchronize your files to: the same drive or a different drive, an FTP server; a network; or a ZIP archive.

Syncback in Knuckle Down and Back Up

TrueSafe Personal Edition 3.51 (Win)
100% Free for non-commercial use.
Features: Flexible backup activation, scheduled backups, manual backups, incremental backups, and unobtrusive.

Truesafe in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Cobian Backup 8 (Black Moon) (Win)
Free for Personal Use.
Features: Schedule backups, full backups, differential backups, and incremental backups, and copy “files and folders in original or compressed mode to other destination, creating a security copy as a result.”

Cobian in Knuckle Down and Back Up

FBackup (Win)
Free for Personal and Commercial Purposes. Features: Automatic backups, backup with standard zip compression, exact copies of files, multiple backup destinations, and backup open files.

Fbackup in Knuckle Down and Back Up

SilverKeeper (Mac)
Freeware, but user needs to provide LaCie with name and e-mail address in order to download software.
Features: Automates backups to external storage devices like hard drives, network drives, and other removable storage devices, retain several versions, synchronize two separate folders, and comprehensive backups.

Silverkeeper in Knuckle Down and Back Up

JaBack (Mac)
Free (Check license agreement).
Features: Automate backups in standard ZIP, transfer your backup set, and schedule backups.

Jaback in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Get Backup (Mac)
Freeware. Features: Back up to any mounted device/drive, data sync, full, versioned, or incremental backups, and scheduling of backups.

Getbackup in Knuckle Down and Back Up

SuperDuper (Mac)
Free to back up and clone your drives.
Features: Clone backups, duplicate your boot drive to another drive, partition, speedy backups, and ease of use. Note: Does not make backups to CD’s, DVD’s, or tape.

Superduper in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Shareware/Donationware

Acritum One-Click Backup for WinRAR (Win)
Shareware (also a Freeware version).
Features: Backup to local drives, automatic smart cleanup of backup archives, automatization for scheduling backups, and password protected backups.

Acritum in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Carbon Copy Cloner (Mac)
Donationware.
Features: Bootable Backups, incremental Backups, scheduled tasks, and backup to network.

Carboncopy in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Déjà Vu (Mac)
Shareware.
Features: Bootable Backups, backup individual folders separately, “Safety Net” archive files, manual or scheduled backups, and perform backups over a network.

Dejavu in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Some Commercial Software

Further Resources

Online Backup Services

(Feel free to skip ahead to the Strategy Section.)

Online backup service companies are like those orange self storage units, where you pay to store all the stuff that won’t fit in your garage or apartment. In this case, the self storage is supplied by a company in a remote place with a multitude of servers. The location of these facilities? Unknown for the most part, with the country of origin sometimes provided. So, why choose an online backup service?

Backup service companies provide offsite data storage, which offers another way to have an additional backup copy of your data in case of a disaster, stolen laptop, or hardware failure. Not only that, but an online service provider is sometimes less labor intensive, requires no additional hardware (in most cases), and is a great addition to your backup strategy.

When choosing a backup service provider, keep in mind the following questions and concerns:

History
Since you’re relying on a third party for your data storage, try to find out who the companies are backed by and the history of the parent company. Doing so allows you to see if there could be problems with the integrity or longevity of the company.

Compatibility
Check the system requirements. Once you sign up for a 1 year contract, you don’t want to find out that you won’t be able to transfer files due to compatibility issues.

Speed
Your internet connection speed correlates to the time a complete initial backup of large files will take. A few hours or a few days to transfer your data can be the difference between usability and a huge hassle.

Security
Check the type of encryption used. Also, your data will be more vulnerable in the hands of an online backup service provider, so check if access to data is restricted and who has access to the data other than you.

Fees
A good rule of thumb is to check for hidden fees. Is the storage unlimited or will you be charged per GB? There could be extra fees for the initial transfer of data, mobile devices, or multiple computers. Personal and/or business plans will have different price plans and usually different storage capacities.

Expansion
Make sure your service provider of choice offers the option to expand your data storage in the event you need to do so. About the last thing you need to do is start all over with another backup service provider.

Backup Service Providers

MozyHome (Win, Mac)
Server Location(s):
Headquartered in Seattle, Washington with offices in Pleasant Grove, Utah; London, England; Shanghai, China; Montreal, Canada; and Bangalore, India.
Free Version: Yes. 2GB of Free Backup Space (No fees).
Pricing Plans: As low as $4.95/month per computer for unlimited storage.
Features: Encryption, data centers, file support, automatic backups, incremental backups, bandwidth throttling, multiple restore options, and pause/resume ability.

Mozyhome in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Carbonite (Win, Mac)
Server Location: USA (possibly Boston, MA).
Free Version: No. Free Trial Version is available (No credit card required). Pricing Plans: $54.95/yr per computer. No limits on backup storage capacity. Features:
Unlimited backup capacity, completely automatic, encrypted, easy file recovery, and incremental backups.

Carbonite in Knuckle Down and Back Up

DropBox (Win, Mac, Linux)
Server Location: USA.
Free Version: Yes. Basic offers up to 2GB space.
Pricing Plans: Start at $9.99/month for 50GB up to $19.99/month for 100GB.
Features: File sync, file sharing, automatic online backup, restore previous versions, 30 days of undo history, web access, security and privacy, and mobile device access.

Dropbox1 in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Acronis True Image (Win, Linux)
Server Location: USA, Europe, Asia.
Free Version: No. However, a Free Trial Version is available.
Pricing Plans: $4.95/month or $49.95/yr with up to 250GB storage available.
Features:
Disk imaging, file backups, full, incremental, and differential backups, and encryption.

Acronis in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Jungle Disk (Win, Mac, Linux)
Server Location: USA (Atlanta, GA), Europe.
Free Version: No.
Pricing Plans: Personal starts at $2.00/month up to 5GB, then charged per GB. Business starts at $4.00/month for 10GB, then charged per GB. Cost includes unlimited number of computers.
Features: backup vaults, server-grade encryption, multi-way sync files, unlimited cloud drive storage, and automatic backups.

Jungledisk in Knuckle Down and Back Up

BackBlaze (Win, Mac)
Server Location: USA.
Free Version: No. However, a Free Trial Version is available.
Pricing Plans: $5.00/month per computer. Unlimited storage.
Features:
Backup external drives, automatically finds files, military-grade encryption, idle-time backup, scheduled backups, cloud storage scaling, web download restore, versioning, and activity reports.

Backblaze in Knuckle Down and Back Up

SpiderOak (Win, Mac, Linux)
Server Location: USA (possibly Northbrook, CA).
Free Version: Yes. Free for life. Up to 2GB. Full feature-set on unlimited computers.
Pricing Plans: $10/month per 100GB or $100/yr per 100GB.
Features: Backup, sync, share, access & storage, 100% zero-knowledge privacy, storage and time-saving de-duplication, automatic backup and scheduling, and historical versions.

Spideroak in Knuckle Down and Back Up

CrashPlan Central (Win, Mac, Linux)
Server Location: USA (possibly Minneapolis, MN).
Free Version: Yes. Free for personal use and automatically backs up your computers daily. Free 30-Day Trial of unlimited online backup.
Pricing Plans: Individual Unlimited Plans starting at $54/yr ($4.50/month) per computer or as low as $3.47/month for a longer contract. Family Unlimited Plans start at $100/yr ($8.33/month) or as low as $5.00/month for a longer contract.
Features: Automated backups, onsite & offsite, incremental & differential, same day recovery, remote retrieval, unlimited versioning, bandwidth throttling, encryption, and archive tampering detection.

Crashplancentral in Knuckle Down and Back Up

SugarSync (Win, Mac)
Server Location: USA (possibly San Mateo, CA).
Free Version: Yes. Free 2GB Plan (only two computers). There are also free 30-Day Trials.
Pricing Plans: Individual plans starting at $9.99/month or $99.99/yr for up to 60GB to $39.99/month or $399.99/yr for up to 500GB. Business plans include a limited introductory price of $29.99/month or $299.99/yr for 100GB and up to 3 users.
Features: Secure automatic encryption, sync without limits, seamless collaboration, file versioning, and remote access.

Sugarsync in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Backup via MobileMe (Win, Mac)
Server Location: USA (possibly Cupertino, CA).
Free Version: No. However, a 60-Day Free Trial is available.
Pricing Plans: $99/yr for 20GB combined email and file storage and up to 200GB monthly data transfer. Family Pack available for $149/yr.
Features: Automatic or manual backups, one step iLife backups, flexible backup plans, multiple backup destinations, incremental backups, file restoration, backup management, and shares backup to iDisk.

Backupmobileme in Knuckle Down and Back Up

iBackup (Win, Mac)
Company: Pro Softnet Corp, an ASP Internet Solutions Provider.
Server Location: USA (possibly Calabasas, CA).
Free Version:No. However, 15-Day Free Trials are available.
Pricing Plans:Economy Plans start at $9.95/month ($99.50/yr) for 10GB. Enhanced Plans start at $14.95/month ($149.50/yr) for 15GB. Workgroup Plans and Pro Plans available.
Features: Incremental backups, data compression, enhanced encryption, automatic backups, snapshots, drag-n-drop, schedule backups, bandwidth throttling, sync, and automatic power off after scheduled backup.

Ibackup in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Memopal (Win, Mac, Linux)
Server Location: Europe (possibly based in Italy), USA, Asia.
Free Version: Yes. 3GB for personal use. E-mail required.
Pricing Plans:Personal Plan $49/yr for 200GB. Business Plans start at $48/yr for 10GB. Ability to increase storage for additional cost.
Features: Automatic backup, continuous real-time backups, access from anywhere, send large files over 1GB, versioning, encryption, cloud search, and privacy.

Memopal in Knuckle Down and Back Up

iDrive (Win, Mac)
Company: Pro Softnet Corp, an ASP Internet Solutions Provider.
Server Location: USA (possibly Calabasas, CA).
Free Version: Yes. Basic Plan includes 2GB full featured online backup.
Pricing Plans: Pro Personal is $4.95/month for 150GB. Pro Business is $9.95/month for 50GB.
Features: Incremental backups, data compression, enhanced encryption, mapped drive backup, automatic backups, drag-n-drop files, snapshots, schedule backups, and sync.

IDrive in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Comodo (Win)
Server Location: USA (possibly Jersey City, NJ), UK, Romania, Ukraine, India, and China.
Free Version: No.
Pricing Plans: Standard Plan Monthly $4.95/month for 10GB or Standard Plan Annual $50/yr (additional at $1/month for 2GB) for 10GB (additional at $10/yr for 2GB). Home User Plan $12/yr for 1GB (additional at $10/yr for 2GB).
Features: Secure and encrypted storage, automatic bandwidth management, schedule backups, incremental backups, and global access.

Comodo in Knuckle Down and Back Up

Remember, an online backup service should NOT be your only means of backing up data. This is a secondary means of data storage and not an alternate to the common methods already discussed.

Further Resources

Choice #3: Strategy

After deciding on your hardware, software, and reviewing online backup services, it’s time to develop your own backup strategy. Now, there might seem like there are too many methods to choose from, and every one of them might seem complicated. Let’s return to the original “Keep it Simple Strategy.” Baby steps before the sprint.

Bare Minimum

Burn, label, put away. Repeat daily. If you only have 15 Minutes to spare and have a CD, DVD, and/or flash drive: begin by backing up all the files you used today on a CD, DVD, or flash drive. Make this a daily habit. For instance, you could create a burn folder on a Mac and then burn that folder at the end of the day. This creates a copy of some of your daily data. You’re off to a good start.

Well-Prepared

“Bare Minimum” + Create initial bootable backup on external drive, move to offsite, and repeat incremental backups on a regular basis.

If you have a couple of hours to kill and an external hard drive:

You’ve developed a good habit of backing up files on a daily basis. However, it’s now time to create a clone or bootable backup of your entire drive to an external drive. This will likely take quite a few hours for the initial backup. Once completed, you need to move the external drive to either a different room, or better yet, an offsite location (relative’s home, safety deposit box, fire safe).

The best part of creating the clone of your hard drive? Incremental backups take far less time than the initial hours spent on the first backup. Depending on your needs, the incremental backups can take place once a week, monthly, or biannually. Just remember that you’ll only have the data from your last backup. If your last backup was on the first of the month and it’s now the 15th and you need to restore your drive, you’ve lost all data that has changed between the first and the 15th (unless you’ve developed the “Bare Minimum” backup habit, which will lessen the loss).

Extra Cautious

“Well-Prepared” + Create initial bootable backup on spare external drive and schedule incremental backups daily.

If you have a couple of hours to kill and two external hard drives:

Follow the “Well-Prepared” method, but add a spare external drive. Use this external drive to create another bootable backup that you don’t move to an offsite location. This drive will serve as a daily incremental backup that you can schedule to occur as often as you like. Then, alternate your external drives.

Have you already implemented another backup method and still feel unsure you’ve covered all bases?

Research some online backup service providers and sign up as a secondary or tertiary means of data storage. This offers yet another layer of protection for your data. Some service providers offer automatic, scheduled, and incremental backups that can run in the background and automate your backup strategy for you.

Try a few methods and see what works best for you. Choosing one backup method, or a combination of any, will insure that your data is safe, secure, and available in case of a disaster.

Further Resources

In Conclusion

At last, you’re ready to begin backing up your data. Don’t think of backing up as a chore anymore. Doing so results in procrastination. In fact, don’t think about backing up at all. The thing is, you need to take action to make your backup strategy work. Just do it and then repeat on a regular basis. It’s that simple.

Further Reading

 

About the Author

Melissa Scroggins is a freelance graphic designer and co-founder of PeachPoPs. She loves designing icons, creating vector illustrations, and playing survival horror video games. Follow her design adventures on Twitter and feel free to send a tweet.

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