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About Online Backup

Online Backup
(aka: Internet Backup, Web Backup, Electronic Vaulting, Remote Backup)

What is Online Backup?
Online backup is a method by which backup data is stored off-site via an Internet connection.

What is needed to be able to backup online?
A computer with an Internet connection. Backing up large files, would require a fast internet connection such as broadband (ADSL, Cable, DSL, etc).
A subscription to an online backup service.

Why use online backup?
Safe: Having your data off-site, means it is protected from local problems such as theft, fire, and other disasters, etc.
Cost-effective: You don't need to buy or maintain any expensive hardware for backup. Also, no staff or personal time is required for creating backups.
Easy: Online Backup solutions are very easy to maintain, the backup process is fully automated, just set and forget.
Reliability: Since Online Backup services are fully automated. This solves one of the biggest problems with traditional backup, which is people tend not to do it regularly. Also there is no need to worry about damaged or lost storage mediums, such as CD's, Tapes, etc.

A good backup strategy will include both an on-site, and an off-site backup.

What is the difference between online backup and online storage?
Online storage services do not usually offer automatic backup of your files. They are simply a place to store files online.
Online backup services come with software that helps keep your online backup up to date automatically.

How to setup and run an online backup strategy
1) Subscribe to an online backup service from an online backup provider.
2) Download and install the backup software which the online backup provider will supply.
3) Run the software, and mark the files, and folders you want to backup. Also adjust any setting according to your needs, such as how often to backup. Also set passwords for encryption.

Once installed and running, the backup software will begin compressing, encrypting, and transferring backup copies of your data to the storage location of your online backup provider.
Typically backup software is set to only process and transfer data when the computer is inactive.
The first backup of all your files may take a long time if you have a large number of files. But after the initial backup, the transfer process will be faster because only new and modified data will be transferred. The backup software will continue to monitor which files have been changed, or created.

In the case you have suffered data loss, and wish to restore data from an online backup, you simply download the files from your online backup service. You can download the backup files to any computer with an internet connection.

How secure is online backup?
Data stored in an online backup, is actually much more secure than the data stored on your computer. Since online backup data is usually stored in encrypted form, but data on most computers is not encrypted, meaning it can be accessed by anybody that hacks into the computer. Hacking a computer is easier than hacking encryption.

All the leading online backup providers take security very seriously. The software they provide will encrypt and compress backup data before it is leaves your computer. The encrypted data is only accessible with a password. Modern encryption methods are very secure, and are they are relied upon daily by banks, militaries, and other high security dependant organisations. Most online banking services use 128bit encryption for transferring data. Most online backup software will encrypt your data at 128bits or greater before it even leaves your computer.

How much can I backup online?
With the right resources, there are no real limits to how much data you can backup online. Even large corporations can enjoy the benefits of online backup. Online backup is quickly becoming an industry standard for all sized businesses.

One limiting factor is your connection speed to the online backup service, but with modern data processing technologies, it is not even necessary to transfer an entire file if it has changed, but the backup software can extract only the changed portions of the file and transfer those.

Things to consider when choosing an online backup service:
Not all online backup services are equal. You should consider what features you require.

Reliability: You need to be able to trust the company to take good care of your data.

Good software
: The software you are supplied by the backup provider should be easy to use, and have the features you want, it should at least include things like, encryption, compression, and transfer scheduling. You should not need to be a computer expert to install and run the software. For example, the software should be smart enough to know where email database files are stored on the computer. Online backup software should also have the ability to backup open files, as most services do. Some backup software will create a log of what has been backed up, this is handy for monitoring backups.

Backup whole files or only parts of the file that have changed: Good online backup software will have the ability to backup only changes made to a file. For example, you have a very large file, and you make only a small modification to that file. If the original has already been backed up online, then the software should have the ability to extract only the information that has changed to the original file, and backup only that part. So instead of sending the whole file online, it will send only the modified parts.

Automatic: The supplied software should have the option to be fully automated, so no human interaction is needed in the backup process.

Deletion: If you accidentally delete a file on your computer, your online backup service should not delete the backup file.

Number of computers per account: You should check if there is a limit to how many computers can use your online backup account simultaneously. Do you require more than one license for multiple computers?

Data Centers: Is the online backup of your data stored in a single data center, or at more than one?

Are special features included or do they cost extra: Some backup services charge extra for special features, which other services may include in the basic package. Such features may include server backup.

Passwords: Does the online backup provider have a master password to your data? Can they access your data if they want to? Or are you the only one who can access the data?

Scalability: Your online service should give you room to grow as your data grows.

Continuity: Some backup software allows for backups to be made continuously, other backup software only creates backups at scheduled times.

Archiving/Versioning: A good backup service will keep multiple versions of your backup data.
If you accidentally deleted some important information 10 days ago, and you didn't notice it until today, you would need an older version of the backup than the one from the day before. This would require your backup provider to keep multiple versions of your data. Some companies archive backups for 30 days, some companies keep archive backups until you choose to delete them.

Transferring: How does the service deal with transfer interruptions. For example, if a large file is being transferred, and the connection gets interrupted, will the transfer have to begin again or will it continue from the point of disconnection.

Emergency restoration services: If you suffer large data loss, and downloading the backup would take a very long time, does the the online backup service offer to send the backups to you on DVD/CD or external hard disk to help speed up the restore process? Doe they offer 24/7 support?

Access to the data: How easy is it to access the data online? Can it be accessed on any computer anywhere in the world through a web interface?

Compliance to applicable Law: Some business types are required by law to create backups, and keep them for a certain amount of time. So make sure the online service complies to any laws governing your business type.

Who uses online backup?
The benefits of online backup can be enjoyed by any individual or company that has valuable data they want to protect from disaster. Some businesses would cease to function if they were to lose their data, such as accountants, lawyers, publishers, schools, universities, etc. Basically any business that uses computers to store information requires a backup strategy, and online backup is really the smartest, and easiest option.

Choosing an online backup service:
There are hundreds of companies offering online backup services. It is wise to choose a company that has been operating for at least a few years, and has received good reviews. One such company is