Data is growing at an unprecedented rate, and it can be tempting to tack on additional storage devices and archiving solutions just for a place to put it all. But what you really need is a cohesive and efficient solution that’s prepared for the data yet to come and that prevents the problems that come with a congested storage landscape. in the case of disaster, you need to be able to recover data quickly to keep operations running smoothly. We can help you build a customized plan that supports your needs by streamlining backups and data management.
From basic single user personal computers to domain based workstation business environments, all data needs a backup strategy. Dirty power, planned hardware obsolescence, user error, malware, and ransomware are just some of the many ways data can be corrupted. There are equally as many ways to protect your valuable information. Depending on your particular situation, we can help build a smart storage strategy that could include storage arrays of all types, flash storage, software-defined storage, cloud storage, or hierarchical storage management. In addition to your storage strategy, you could incorporate a backup and recovery solution involving cloud backup, centralized data management, data deduplication and/or multidata center replication.
One strategy is to protect your files by keeping your backups offsite to ensure their safety. One of the best cloud backup solutions available is from Carbonite. One of the most recognizable names in online backup, Carbonite is also one of the easiest-to-use online backup services available. Its mobile apps are well done and at $59 annually it presents good value for your money, though it lacks advanced sharing features. If sharing files from your online backup is important, consider premium backup services from SpiderOak at around $129 per year. If automatic video backup has value to you, consider SOS Online Backup or Carbonite’s Prime Plan at $149 per year.
To get started with Carbonite, click through to our landing page on their site here: Carbonite.com/ComputerComponentsServices
After downloading Carbonite’s PC software, you’re taken through a clear wizard-driven process to select what’s backed up and when. First you choose a nickname for the computer. That way, if you add other computers to your account, you know which one has the files you want. Next comes a big help for those who aren’t sure exactly which files to back up: The wizard offers to automatically choose what to include (documents, photos, email, and music) and when to upload the files.
There’s also an Advanced option that lets you decide on the backup set and schedule the backup for yourself. You can use Advanced either to fine-tune Carbonite’s default selections or to start completely from scratch. If you spring for the Plus plan, you can have the service back up your entire drive, system files and all, as well as connected external drives. The higher-level plans also let you create a duplicate backup to local storage, so that you can recover files without an Internet connection.
Next it’s time to choose when backups should occur. I really like the default option, Continuous. You can also simply tell the software to back up once a day. If your Internet connection isn’t the strongest, you may prefer that, though you can also tell Carbonite not to upload during your busy hours. The Continuous option only uploads file changes and new files, however, so it shouldn’t overly tax your connection.
Once you know what you’re backing up and when, you need to decide on a security level. Carbonite encrypts your data before sending it to its servers. By default, Carbonite manages your encryption key, but those who want to really lock down their data can choose to manage their own key. This means no one at Carbonite has the means to access to your files even if compelled to by a search warrant, but also that they won’t be able to recover your files if you lose the key. It means, furthermore, that you don’t get Web access to your files; Mozy, by contrast, allows Web access for accounts using private keys. If you pick Carbonite, I recommend the still-secure but less-restrictive managed-key option.
Your final options before Carbonite actually starts processing and uploading your data are to have the service prevent your PC from sleeping and to add any files not covered automatically—videos, program files, and files larger than 4GB. A wizard page explains that the initial upload could take a couple days. It also explains Carbonite’s helpful File Explorer dots. The software adds a red dot if a file’s waiting to be backed up, and green if it’s all set. You can right click on any allowable file to add it to the backup set. If you update a file, the right-click context menu offers a “back up as soon as possible” choice, something I appreciate. If this functionality is very important to you, then Carbonite is a better choice for you than SOS Online Backup.
Carbonite’s InfoCenter is also your friend when it comes time to restore files. When you search for files to restore, you can either replace them in their original location or restore to a desktop folder. One problem I have with Carbonite is that if you delete a file on the backed-up PC, only to later realize you really wanted it, the service only keeps the file for 30 days.
Carbonite saves multiple versions of files as you edit and save them. They’re kept for a bit longer than deleted files—3 months. But you’re limited to 12 versions, compared with SOS’s unlimited versions. In my tests of a document I updated several times, Carbonite correctly saved all versions.
When you need to restore your entire PC backup to a new machine, Carbonite can recreate the lost PC’s Windows user account on the new PC. You can also create a new user account for the backup. Note that when you do a full restore to a new machine, you lose the ability to back up the original PC, since the service only covers one PC per account. Otherwise, you can just save all the files to a separate folder. A nice option in the Restore window lets you use a search box to specify particular folders and files you need first. Carbonite estimates tells you how long the restore will take, and you can access already-processed files any time during the restoration.
As with the desktop interface, Carbonite’s Web interface is clear and well designed. It offers a folder view along with a quick search box, and all you have to do is double-click on a filename to start downloading it. One thing missing from the Web interface, however, is file-version choice.
A Facebook button lets you send photos from your backed-up collection directly to the leading social network, but aside from this, there isn’t much in the way of sharing features from the Web client. I am surprised that you can’t even create a direct link to a file or extend editing access, as you can in several online backup services. Nor can you play music or videos from the Web UI.
Carbonite offers mobile apps for Android and iOS (missing is Windows Phone, for which IDrive has an excellent app). Oddly, you won’t find links to the apps on Carbonite’s site; you just have to search for Carbonite Mobile in the device’s store. Large button tiles in the app offer access to Pictures, Documents, Music, and Desktop, or you can just view all your folders. I was able to view photos and documents, and even to play uploaded music right inside the app. File sharing is accomplished via iOS’s built-in email sharing, which attaches files to an email message. The app was recently updated to support TouchID for easy access to protected files.
If you want to back up your PC files to prepare for the occasional crisis, Carbonite is a fine choice. It stands out in the crowded online backup space with its ease of use, unlimited storage, and continuous backup.
As data storage cloud services become more ubiquitous, we must take note of a few considerations beyond hacking. Quality cloud service can be invaluable, but vetting is a must.
First and foremost, these are businesses which intend to be profitable. Low cost often means corners are cut. This can take many forms such as understaffing, old/bad/inadequate technology, lack of expertise, lack of quality, underpaid staff, etc. Of these, the potentially most damaging is the underpaid, likely demoralized, employee. Whether for profit, or retaliation, what’s to keep them from releasing your data to the world? Especially if one of the cut corners is a lack of safeguards.
How about if no corners were actually cut, but the price is still low? If a cloud provider offers very similar 500 GB storage services, one for $60/year and the other for $300/year, why pay the dollars? Remember the business must be profitable and the money must flow from somewhere. If not cash, then that somewhere is your data. Every EULA (End User License Agreement) for low cost cloud storage includes language to mine your data for “anonymous” resale, typically for demographic advertising purposes. Many, but not all, EULAs also contain language for dual copyright rights, meaning they can use your photos or videos without compensation.
Think the data mining is really anonymous? With very few data points, your identity can be verified. Even without things like address, phone number, physical characteristics and other “easy” identifiers, you can be positively identified with as few as 10 URLs (sites you visit). The more data points, the easier it is.
Need, or want, to switch services? There aren’t any standards. Different providers use different methodologies which you should not expect to be compatible with each other. Nor do they have any incentive to cooperate. Discontinuing one service and transferring your data to another service is likely to be problematical and probably means you will have to download your saved data and then upload it to the new service.
When you pay with cash instead of your data, you should expect HIPAA, SOX, and PCI compliance with no data mining. Is it worth an extra $15/month for your or your business to use a quality service and keep your data from being resold? Seems like an easy answer.