Cheap Ways To Back Up Computer Data

Your computer seems to know when you’ve neglected to back up important data so it can choose those times to crash and burn. To protect your precious work, you’ve got to preemptively strategize against your devices by making a habit of backing up data as often as possible.

Beating Broke suggests cheap ways to make sure you don’t need to start fresh whenever your computer malfunctions.

* Store photos online. Social networking sites are possibilities, and operations such as Flickr offer unlimited uploads if you pay for a premium membership.

* Invest in an external hard drive. The devices have dropped in price over the years, and allow you to connect them to your computer and automatically back up your data.

Another option, at least for smaller files, is to email them to yourself after you finish them or make significant updates.

Data Backup on a Budget [Beating Broke]

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  1. Bort says:

    right now is a bad time to buy a new hard drive…

    • The Upright Man says:

      Tell me about it.

      I wanted to set up a RAID array in my new custom build, but that won’t be happening any time soon.

      • BurtReynolds says:

        Same here. I was gearing up to snag a few drives this holiday season until prices shot up.

        My wife’s laptop HDD is maxed out. I set up a price alert for a 750GB Caviar Black (although I might also consider the new 750 Seagate XT drive), and then it doubled in price.

        I was shopping for a 4-bay NAS, but what is the point of buying it if I won’t put drives in it for another six months.

        I also finally got a DVR that can take an eSATA expansion. I have an extra WD Green drive laying around, but I’ve read they don’t necessarily work well for a DVR. The WD “AV” drives are in the stratosphere price range, so I might just try out the Green and see how it goes.

        Definitely first world problems though compared to the folks who were flooded in Thailand.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      A buddy of mine back home converted all his disc drives to the new SSDs. He loves them. Load-up times are in seconds and he thinks they are more reliable.

    • Megalomania says:

      if you’re backing up data (rather than audiovisual materials), HDD prices are pretty damn irrelevant. I could literally fit everything I NEED on FAT32 formatted thumb stick. Safe to say that for $100, you could probably back up anything critical several times over onto physical media.

      That said, using jungledisk (backed by Amazon S3) is probably the better solution since it’s way easier to use the cloud services than worry about keeping a bunch of HDDs up to date and keeping track of them all.

  2. seth_lerman says:

    Buy a computer, load it up and then return it to Best Buy. Your stuff is now backed up off-site in Oklahoma.

  3. Hi_Hello says:

    cheap and easy would be nice.

    HD prices are going up because of some flooding ( I think flooding) in Thailand this summer… I think it was Thailand.. they are still cheap compare to back in my days…

    anyway… I would probably go with carbonite. you don’t have to worry about your external HD dying or something…

    • Rachacha says:

      My problem is I have several computers at home, and all of our data is stored to a Network attached storage which means I have to go with a Carbonite business acoount that costs more, also I have about 4TB of encoded home videos, and brobably another 8TB that I have yet to encode, so backing all of that up to the cloud is near impossible.

      • Hi_Hello says:

        if you have a NAS, I’m assuming they are RAID. You are good, unless the house burns down…

        I have a tape drive that I might be able to convince my boss to sell. It’s not brand new but we never used it… bought it 4 years ago…

        • Rachacha says:

          Unfortunately it is not RAID, what I had been doing was syncing the NAS to an internal drive on one of my computers over the network every morning at 3am, and then syncing the internal drive with an external drive that I would take to work with me, but a computer upgrade, and sync software update broke all of my workflow, so I need to spend some time getting everything back on the same page and resetting all of my syncing. I have been looking at several NAS systems but with the amount of data I produce at home as well as files I create when I help out at school as well as a side business I run, I am looking at having to spend $3000 to backup everything (Drobo Pro or similar), or scaling things back to figure out what I could afford to lose. I need to make a decision soon as I am probably on borrowed time.

        • GearheadGeek says:

          It is a fallacy that RAID is a substitute for backup. RAID is statistically more stable than JBOD and when everything is working right you can survive the death of one spindle for a while, but if something happens to the RAID controller itself or if you lose a 2nd drive in the array before you replace the first dead one, you’re still in trouble.

          Backups are good. Just because I’m paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not really out to get me.

      • jeb says:

        I use CrashPlan, personally. They have an (unsupported) way of backing up NAS drives with their cheap ($5/month) unlimited plan.

        My two cents.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      yep, monsoon season in thailand flooded the hard drive factories. from the news articles i read in october about it, it seems 90% of the world’s hard drives are made in thailand.
      something.. something… eggs… basket?
      yeah, manufacturing diversity would probably be a good response to this situation but i suspect it won’t happen
      i checked the hard drive i bought over the summer for my netbook – i paid $90 for 750G 12mm 2.5″ internal. as of right now it’s $151
      camelcamelcamel says when it was brand new in February 2011 it was only $112

    • OutPastPluto says:

      Unless you are some sort of video hoarder, the current escalation in drive prices is probably not such a big deal. The increases in prices for the smaller portable drives haven’t been quite so stark. Plus, if you are a more casual user then you can likely skimp on capacity.

      Unless you are dealing with multiple drive arrays with lots of drives, the current price hikes are not such a tragedy.

  4. Coffee says:

    Any article on cheap data back-up that doesn’t mention that anyone with Windows Live has access to a free 25GB cloud service (SkyDrive) is obviously not doing it right.

    • hansolo247 says:

      It has its uses for important documents, but my tried and true backup method is a disk image.

      That gets me back up in no time.

    • Rachacha says:

      25GB would not be enough to cover my music files, or even my word processing etc files.

      I would also caution people on relying on photo sharing sites as your photo backup. not all of them save the original file in full resolution, so that picture you have of your child’s first birthday may only be saved at 72 dpi in a 4×6 image, meaning if you lose your original file when you try to print out the backup stored online as a high quality photo it will be about the size of a postage stamp.

      • Coffee says:

        It obviously depends on the individual and the need, but in an article where they’re mentioning Dropbox’s free 2GB service, it would also be appropriate to mention a similar service that offers more than ten times as much storage.

      • El_Fez says:

        25GB wouldn’t even cover my porn collection, let alone all my photos and MP3s.

        Also, the problem with backing up to flicker (aside from flicker changing the file names and removing the EXF data) is that you’ll have to go download each photo by hand one at a time.

      • The_IT_Crone says:

        But it’s better than suggesting you email them to yourself, which I think was the point.

        • Coffee says:

          Yes…this is what I mean…25GB obviously isn’t sufficient for people who have a lot of media, but if you’re just talking about backing up a couple thousand documents/photos/song/whathaveyou, 25GB may be enough.

  5. Cat says:

    DVD or Blu-ray is pretty inexpensive.

    • Dave B. says:

      Yup, but not a good backup medium for those with alot of phots or videos.

    • GreatWhiteNorth says:

      Cat… once you’ve created your backup optical disks you need to store them somewhere safe. If you are going to store them in your home I suggest in your sock drawer, relatively constant temperature, humidity and usually dark helps them last “forever”, but best of all you aren’t likely going to forget where your sock drawer is.

    • amuro98 says:

      Blu-ray is still pretty expensive when you consider you can get one of those huge stacks of DVDs for $20, BOGO.

      However when faced with trying to backup 100s of GBs of photos, as you edit, update, delete, etc. it quickly turns into an exercise in futility. The external HDD method is probably the cheapest whereas the online services are the most robust…unless they go out of business.

  6. Buckus says:

    I just print everything out on paper and store it in legal file boxes. That’s cheap, right? Especially if I use the ink-jet printer!

    • framitz says:

      This reminds me of a FAX app from around 1997, you scan or read in the information and the fax encodes it into a type of bar code that is then faxed and scanned to recover the data on the other end.

      It never took off because high speed internet came along and negated the technology.
      Color FAX died around the same time without ever taking off.

    • hansolo247 says:

      Don’t forget to scan that stuff, so it’s backed up again:)

  7. jeni1122 says:

    Well, pricing is not the best for external hard drives right now due to the shortage regarding the flooding in Thailand. That goes for external and internal, but you can still locate a 500gb external hard drive 60-100 dollars.

    I got a 500gb external HD on Black Friday last year for 49.99 (Western Digital). Once the hard drive shortage clears up, hopefully the pricing will go back to around 50.00 or less.

  8. Superunlikely says:

    Crashplan.com

    Encrypted, automatic offsite backup for just the cost of storage (or just unused space on your buddy’s pc).

    I pay for the plus service but my parents use the free version to back up to my house. That works just fine.

    • The Twilight Clone says:

      That’s fine if you trust them with your data. I don’t trust anyone with my data. I barely trust myself.

      • mavkato says:

        I use a combination of TrueCrypt to create an encrypted file that contains my data, and Dropbox and SugarSync to save files to the cloud without having to worry about security.

      • LanMan04 says:

        Your data is encrypted by the Crashplan software on your computer before it gets uploaded to your buddy’s computer. It’s just a bunch of numbered files that are full of what look like gibberish.

  9. XTREME TOW says:

    E-mailing small files is the cheapest way to back-up small stuff. An extra hard drive will eventually get filled up too; but it’s a good start. Flash drives work best for stuff you don’t want on your bucket all the time (financial records, account information, etc.).

  10. IphtashuFitz says:

    Anybody ever try services like Carbonite? I’d be interested in hearing what people who have actually used them have to say.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      i have a friend who uses it. He has not try to retrieve anything yet…

      it’s neat, you select what folder you want to backup just by right clicking on the folder. Program runs in the sys tray.

      figure it’s less than 5 bucks a month for off site backup…

      i’m thinking about getting it…if I get a computer…

    • kathygnome says:

      We use Mozy Pro at work to back up several servers. I’ve done restores of everything from individual files to the entire database of a sql server and it’s all been fine. The only issue is for large restores, particularly with old files that haven’t changed in months, it can take a while for them to put together the restore. But the data is there.

    • RandomHookup says:

      I’ve been using Carbonite for a few years and it works fine (I got the first 2 or 3 years free). It can degrade performance a bit and I’m getting more “your stuff isn’t backed up” errors lately, but it’s better than not having it backed up. I’ve used it both when I got a new machine and when everything seemed to go “poof” on my hard drive and it’s been easy to restore.

    • vastrightwing says:

      The problem with all offsite backup systems is the time. They take forever to do a full backup or restore. OK, once you’ve done a full backup, the incremental backups aren’t a problem, but imagine what will happen once you need to do a restore.
      1) You need an emergency restore disk and then
      2) you have to restore terabytes of data all at once.
      This will takes days to do. A cheap hard drive with Acronis Home is much cheaper and faster.
      Also, $5/month doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but after only 1 year you’ve paid for a 1 terrabyte hard disk.

      • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

        The big advantage to offsite backups is that they’re offsite. This is a huge plus for those who live in old houses or in high crime neighborhoods.

  11. balthisar says:

    My first 20 MB hard drive for my Amiga 500 was about $500, and that was 1992.

    Despite the flooding in Thailand, hard drives are still dirt cheap for the storage they offer.

    I’m waiting currently for my WD 2x3TB RAID to show up from Amazon!

    • Cat says:

      First hard drive: 10 MB “hard card” that set in a full length slot in a Compaq “portable”. Also had a RTC and memory expansion to the full 640k.

      “I’ll never fill this up!!!”

      • George4478 says:

        My first was a 20MB shoebox-sized drive for my Atari ST in 1986. $700.

        I got rid of the ST and the drive (both still worked just fine) a couple of years ago.

    • LanMan04 says:

      Which NAS RAID box did you get? OR did you just grab bare drives?

  12. Cat says:

    When I get a new hard drive, I install the new one and format the old one, then use it as a back up drive until full.

    Rinse and repeat.

  13. justabunchofwords says:

    As a corporate records manager and global privacy professional, the information contained in both the post and some comments makes me cringe. Encrypted external drives are generally the safest and best option. I know that the goal of the post is to do it on the cheap, but keep in mind that storing images on a social networking site can end up transferring ownership and some of the control.

  14. tenioman says:

    The cheapest way to back up your computer is with Crashplan’s “backup to friend” feature. I am a college student. I have it set up so that my photos back up to a computer at my parents’ home and their photos back up to my computer here.

    This system is great because it provides both a free back up in a secondary location.

    I also back up to an external hard drive at college.

    • LanMan04 says:

      This solution is a million times better than an external hard drive (assuming you have the bandwidth to send all that data out to the internet).

      That way, when your house burns down, your data is still safe far, far away. (instead of being destroyed along with your computer)

      • wackydan says:

        I have a very nice shed I built in the back yard… Secure… and I’m running power and ethernet to it this spring and buying another NAS to put out there… It is highly unlikely that both house and shed will burn down. The shed NAS will be the backup to the house NAS… I’m a geek.

  15. Branden says:

    the cheapest and best way to backup your data is to set up a cooperative offsite backup with a friend (that ideally doesn’t live next door). the only cost is sacrificing a bit of HDD space for your friend and a bit of bancdwidth, plenty of free softwares to do the rest. although it isn’t for everyone, you will need to know your way with networking stuffs to get it setup.

    alternatively, even if you spend hundreds of dollars on external caddies and NAS devices and RAID controllers and HDDs to populate them all, your house could still burn down taking all your backups with it.

  16. Dr. Ned - This underwear is Sofa King Comfortable! says:
  17. James says:

    I prefer second hard drives over a cloud site that’s out of my reach or has monthly fees. (But I do plenty of online backups too)

    I use Apple’s Time Machine for my desktop and laptop, and for my photo files have them backed up to two 2TB hard drives, keeping one at work.

    If using local hard drives always keep one out of your house, in case of theft, fire, flood.

    • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

      i keep one of my external backups in my fire safe at my house. since the fire department in my county is covered by my property taxes, i don’t have to worry about them refusing to put it out.
      it’s a cheap safe but it’s supposedly good to protect hard drives, paper, plastic, cds and dvds for up to 30 minutes of fire

  18. Mac says:

    Actually there are two distinct types of backups. Personal data and the PC state itself. These days the OEMs place the recovery media on a hidden partition on the drive. If the drive fails, you have no way to recover unless you created backup optical disks. Most users do not create these disks or are unaware you need to make them.
    As to backup you always want them stored in a different location than the computer. Having a portable disk backup is no good if your whole house burns down.
    Carbonite is good since it’s a “Set It & Forget It” method. As to free services like Mozy you have to be concerned about the data being out of the users control. Most PC users can’t or won’t take on something like Acronis True Image backups since it requires a lot of user work to create & maintain the images.
    Sometimes just a backup to flash drive and store in a bank lock box is an option.

  19. Not Given says:

    Crashplan.

    Many of the back up companies will let you have 2G for free.

    I’m paying $4.95/mo for 150G on iDrive. iDrive is the only one I found that will let you back up a networked drive.

  20. Geosama says:

    back up to blu ray discs, crash proof!

  21. The Twilight Clone says:

    There’s another issue. I’ve heard of people inadvertently exceeding their monthly ISP bandwidth by doing a mass upload to one of these backup services. Beware.

  22. kathygnome says:

    Crashplan with a family member at another location. Free offsite backup.

  23. NumberSix says:

    I use an external drive, but I keep it in a fire safe when I’m not using it. it also helps to keep all your data on a single partition or drive so backing it up is easy and painless.

  24. Traveller says:

    I use a couple of services, none of which individually cost a lot (relatively speaking here). I used to use Carbonite, and it works well and the price is very good, but I have a lot of photos and exceeded their limit (not well advertised, but they throttle around 200Gb). So if you don’t have a lot it’s a good option.

    For photos I use SmugMug. The base package allows for unlimited photo storage (no throttling that I have seen yet) and they have good bandwidth too, I get pretty high >5Mbs when I upload to them.

    I decided to replace Carbonite with CrashPlan. It is more than Carbonite, but so far no throttling or limits. Their speeds are not quite as good, I have only gotten about 1 to 2Mbs on uploads. There is also an option to backup to external drives and other computers on your network (or internet for that matter). That part is free if you choose not to use their plan. Both systems have to have the software installed. That works real well for local backups to an external drive or other computer since it is automatic.

    • humphrmi says:

      I tried Carbonite too, but their large file and NAS restrictions made it not work for me. I switched to Dump Truck, for the time being I’m apparently not paying anything for it because I have an account with one of their partners, but I expect to start paying anytime. Dump Truck has no limits (that I’ve hit anyway) and they provide WebDAV access, which is nice – Windows and Linux can both talk WebDAV over CIFS.

      I’m starting to set up a Windows Home Server mainly for backup purposes; I’m going to provide my shared folders (i.e. music, pictures, etc.) through Drive Extender and hook up my managerie of USB external drives to it. Supposedly WHS provides redundancy, and you can add more storage just by plugging it in. Meh, we’ll see.

    • GoBobbyGo says:

      Is carbonite really more than crashplan? I paid something like $130 for 5 years of crashplan. Also, carbonite (at least the last time I check, which was February when Mozy jacked their prices for large amounts of data through the frickin’ roof), won’t back up external drives.

      3 external HDDs in the house + crashplan.

      Pictures of my kids are precious and space-consuming.

  25. smo0 says:

    I was actually just discussing this.
    I tell people have 3 backup points.
    1. a hard copy – either flash drive or cd/dvd/bluray
    2. External hard drive… I have 3.
    3. Copies on your HD work just as well if you have windows 7. If a computer malfunction doesn’t involve physical breaking of your HD, even if you have to restore windows, it keeps a copy of your HD when you have a fresh start (I know certain formats don’t apply but this is just for a windows reinstall…. I had to do this when I upgraded my MOBO Processor and Ram).

  26. Rick Sphinx says:

    I use a web host service Network Solutions. You can get around 300GB of storage for about $6/month, or 500gb at $13/month. Then get a program called Syncback, and you can set up which folders to back up. I have mine backup every night at 2am. Syncback is at http://www.2brightsparks.com/ for about $35, or you can download from Cnet.com. Use the FTP tab to set up. I think this is the best way, as Its cheap, and off-site.
    Another option is to still get Syncback, and use it to copy files form one pc to another. If you have a PC and a Laptop, have them back up to each other.
    I do both, the FTP off-site method, and the PC to Laptop, so my data is in 3 places. Like most techs will tell you, if you don’t have data in 3 places, you don’t have data.
    Data does really need to be in one offsite location. But I would not depend on sending files vie webmail for backup, sometmes they get hacked and loose everythinig.
    Oh, the other nice thing about using a web hosting sevice is that what ever computer I’m on, anyhwhere, I can login and get a file if I need it.

    • wackydan says:

      Those cheap web hosts are not secure. I hope for your sake that you are not copying raw data to the FTP. I have yet to see one of those hosts not get hacked.

      As long as your data is encrypted and your encryption key is not uploaded then you are ok.

  27. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I’ve been thinking about Carbonite, since my computers are online all the time. Right now I back up important files on flash drive and external hard drive, but those things are in my house. If a tornado eats it or it burns, I’m SOL. Well, the flash drive lives in my purse or around my neck on a lanyard, but I hardly ever take it with me on weekends.

  28. momtimestwo says:

    We’ve had Carbonite the past few years. I like that the storage isn’t in my house, if my house burns down an external drive isn’t going to do us any good. It does everything automatically, so I never think about it.

    • RandomHookup says:

      That’s the ticket. Keeping your stored data with the source isn’t effective if you lose both at the same time.

  29. dush says:

    gee, if only iphone had external storage capability…

  30. somedaysomehow says:

    Is it worth it to invest in a backup software? Are there some that are free/cheap? I have an external hard drive but no software. I’ve just been copying things over manually. I’d love an easier way to do it. The only thing is I can’t keep my external hard drive connected 24/7 due to the fact that my “desk” is a tray table and there’s no space. LOL

    • Rachacha says:

      On Windows Microsoft Synctoy is free and works quite well. The only problem is that you have to run it manually, or use Windows scheduler to create an automatic sync

      I have also used Good Sync (www.goodsync.com) which is relatively cheap at $30 to back up my NAS, internal drive and 2 external drives

  31. SabreDC says:

    I just put everything on a gold record and launch it into space. Restoring is a bitch though.

  32. Shouhdes says:

    I bought a pair of 1 TB harddrives in the past 2 months, they were 140 bucks a piece. I remember buying them for 79 dollars about a year and a half ago.

  33. DrRonster says:

    Guess I’ll load Windows Server 8 with several Western Digital Blues 1 & 1.5 TB. Got 3 WD 2TB Blacks running on my i72600k. Won’t pay over $100 for a drive so my summer drive shopping paid off. Love building those boxes. I budget 1 hr for build.
    Currently back up on several network pcs and several external drives as well as an attached USB 3.0 2 TB WD My book.

  34. maxhobbs says:

    LOL, I have a total of 14 terabye of disk space over multiple drives and I use about about 13 terabye of it and nothing is backed up (at my location). I do video work and there is a backup at another location though.

    I’m buying 10 terabye more hard drive space in the next month. I still remember my first PC with a whopping 10MB hard drive.

  35. jvanbrecht says:

    I use a dual dual-core AMD server with 16G ram and 16 drives, 8 1TB drives, and 8 500GB drives. Running opensolaris to utilize zfs, and various raid types, the 500 giggers are for speed, the 1tb ones are for backups.. I can lose around 3 drives from each set before I lose any data.

  36. Razor512 says:

    what are the odds of natural disaster from destroying your house?

    For the price of many online backup services (monthly fees) you can buy a new hard drive every few months.

    Why not use the money that would go to a online backup service, then get a quality water tight and fire resistant safe (fire resistant ones are designed to keep the contents within a certain temperature range for around 4+ hours)

    Get a safe, and put your backup drive in it. Then in a few more months, buy another hard drive and and make a backup of your backup, then a few months later, buy another safe and stick it somewhere else in the house

    Why spend a monthly fee for a backup service that will take a very long time to do and a very long time to restore (possibly pushing you over your bandwidth cap) along with having many other issues)

    automated backups are not very good (while it can be better than no backup) it has it’s share of flaws.

    Some backups append new data and delete older revisions of files.

    I have worked on systems where malware infections compromised many of the users data and there will be no clean revisions of the data. Essentially making it so that restoring the backup will restore the malware.

    I personally do manual backups every once in a while to an additional 1TB drive which I keep in a safe.

    On my main drive used in my active system, I partition the drive so no important data is saved on drive C

    More frequent backups for frequently updated important files, goes onto a 500GB external drive, and my documents that I type up goes onto all mentioned drive in addition to an extra 160GB external drive on my data server which auto backs up to another 160GB drive (some redundancy and only data that I manually put in there is backed up)

    all in all, having automatic backups of first party data (eg directly from your active system), means that infected content will also be backed up, and depending on how many revisions the service keeps, good copies can be deleted and replaced with infected ones leaving no chance at backup.

    depending on the users safety practices, a user may get infected with something that are currently not in the virus scan databases (remember malicious users also have access to virus scans, I suck at programming and I can make something that is malicious and wont be detected)
    with this in mind, it is common for some users to get infected and have good backups get revisioned out and replaced with infected or corrupt content. Manual backups provides more screening of the files

    • Rachacha says:

      “what are the odds of natural disaster from destroying your house?” Depends on where you live, but why chance it when you could take backups on external hard drives and give one to a close friend/relative to store in their house, or take one to the office and cycle it with one at home.

      My backup plan involves a NAS (stored in the basement wiring closed) where all of my original files are stored. The NAS is synced every evening to a hard drive in another room. – This ensures that I always have 2 copies of every file up to date.

      I also have 2 external drives, one I keep at home and is also synced to the NAS every day. Then every Friday, I take the disk that I had at home to the office, and take my external drive at the office home and use it as my backup drive for the week. – This ensures that if there is a fire or theft at my home and my 3 copies at home are ruined, at most I have lost 1 week’s worth of data.

  37. steal_this_book says:

    Cloud backup can be a real pain in the butt when you’re in an area that doesn’t offer much in the way of bandwidth. Sure, a scheduled incremental backup regimen wouldn’t break the bank but the initial setup of even the minimum irreplaceable data and media would mean several days of maxing out the connection.

  38. gman863 says:

    As an IT person and owner of a PC repair shop, it’s time to hand out a few +1’s (and reality checks) on the comments so far:

    +1 to everyone using an automated online backup service such as Carbonite. The number of people and small businesses that lose data because of forgetting to back stuff up is staggering. Trying to recover wedding photos or Quickbooks data from a totally crashed drive (if it can be recovered) costs between $800-$2500.

    As for the comment on the odds of a natural disaster getting your primary and backup data, the “disaster” may be a break-in. The (redacted racial slur)s who broke into my house two years ago were spotted and scared away by the neighbors – but not before they got away with both of my PCs and both backup drives. That fire safe you’re hiding the backup drive in will be one of the first things they run off with. Had it not been for my Carbonite backup, I would have lost ten years work in my portfolio and hundreds of priceless pictures.

    +2 to those who make copies (not compressed backups) of important files on an external drive in addition to an automatic online backup. Faster access in the event of a crash.

    First Reality Check: Facebook, Flickr, Photobucket, etc are PUBLIC websites. Your data is NOT protected and can easily be hacked. If you don’t want the World to see it, don’t attempt to use such sites to “back up” your personal photos and data.

    BIG Reality Check to anyone who relies on burning backups to CD/DVD media. “Burned” CD or DVDs (unlike the “stamped” DVDs you buy or rent movies on) have a lifespan of only a few years before they degrade to the point of losing data. The only way to buy additional time is by using “archival” grade discs (about 5-10 times as pricy as the cheap ones). If you’re talking storage for decades, even this is iffy: archival grade blank media hasn’t been around long enough to test or verify claims of 50-100 year data integrity.

    The bottom line: Although it costs money, properly backing up and protecting your data is much less costly (financially and emotionally) than losing it.

    • Nigerian prince looking for business partner says:

      Protection from theft is the exact reason why we use an offsite backup service.

  39. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    External hard disc and Rebit / SaveMe. Just remember to unplug the USB and power. Oh and don’t forget to store it in a safe place.

  40. aleck says:

    Things fail when blogers start offering advice in the areas where they have no clue. As in budgeting blog offering tech advice.

    Using Flickr as a back up solution seems like a good idea until you try to restore all your photos. You’ll have to download them one at a time. And it costs $26 a year. It will actually be cheaper and less time consuming to buy blank DVD media and back all your pictures there.

    SkyDrive offers 25GB space free and there are plenty of blogs posts on how to add it as a local drive in your PC.

  41. jenjenjen says:

    I bought two identical 1 TB external hard drives. I copy stuff from one to the other every week using a thumb drive. I figure the chance of my house and workplace burning down or being burgled on the same day are pretty slim, and if there’s a catastrophe that’s wiped them both out, I have bigger problems than worrying about my photos and mp3s.

    • jenjenjen says:

      Oops, forgot the part about keeping the 2nd hard drive at work. I have an office with a lockable file cabinet and it stays in there.