Best Backup Solution – How To Choose The Right One

by Rod Dunne on August 20, 2010

in Articles, Backup Software

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Computer backup options for home PC users are often as varied as the number of devices, backup utility applications and online services that now exist. This makes picking the best backup solution all the more difficult.

Here, we’ll take a look at the 3 best backup solutions/types and highlight which one(s) work best based on cost, convenience, expandability and security.

Computer backup options to compare:
The three chosen here are the most popular options for home users

  • Online: There are many online services (e.g. iDrive/My Live Drive) which allow you to upload your important data to a web server. The companies behind these solutions provide a backup utility application that can schedule & automate the uploads of backup files.
  • HDD: External hard disk drives (HDD) are increasingly popular for storing backup data. Modern HDD can store huge volumes of data, transfer data fast and can use synchronization software (e.g. Final Sync) to sync up your data between the computer and HDD.
  • DVD/CD: Using a CD/DVD burner to make copies of your data is still a viable option, especially if you want to maintain multiple versions of backup files.

Cost Of Backup Solution

Online: Generally a monthly subscription charge. Prices vary depending on the volume of data storage you want.
HDD: Once off cost of purchasing the external storage device and backup utility/software. Modern drives have a huge capacity at a low cost.
DVD/CD: DVD burners and media prices have plummeted in recent years making it very economical. Possible additional physical storage costs (shelves, disk containers) should however also be considered.

Best backup solutions for cost are: Burning CDs/DVDs. However, using a HDD for a backup is as cheap in the long term.

Convenience/Usability Of Backup Solutions

Online: Ultra convenient. Most services can run as background tasks on your computer uploading changed/new files on a scheduled basis or on a continual basis (as and when changes occur). Backups can be done while travelling with your laptop, so long as you have a decent web connection.
HDD: Very portable. Backup utility software can be manually run or be set to run at particular times (e.g. daily backups)
DVD/CD: No automation options are available as you have to manually insert disks and burn off the copies.

Best backup solution for convenience is: The online backup solution.

Limits On Volumes Of Backup Files

Online: Most services put a cap on the data storage amount. This can be as low as 2GB, which really is only enough for a partial computer backup for most people.
HDD: Only limited by the disk capacity, which is usually massive and often capable of storing the entire contents of your computer’s internal disk drive.
DVD/CD: Totally expandable as your storage volumes increase. However, it becomes necessary to use multiple disks to do a full backup of a hard drive.

Best backup solution for expandability/volumes is: Syncing to HDD.

Security & Data Protection

Online: All services require password protection and the use of HTTPS to transmit files to their services/servers. Your backup data is cloned to several servers /data banks by the service in order to reduce the risk of one server developing a fault.
HDD: Single point of failure if both your computer & HDD are stolen/damaged at the one time. Puts the onus on the owner to store original & backup data separately.
DVD/CD: Similar to HDD backup in that it is only as secure as the owner makes it (i.e. secure storage of backup disks/use of password protection on files). Though data recovery is more readily possible as multiple backup disks and document versions can be maintained.

Best backup solution for security/data protection is: The online backup service.

Choosing the best backup solutions comes down to personal taste but you should definitely focus on which attribute (cost, security, etc.) is your number one priority when choosing between backup solutions.

Related Posts:
- Our post on how to recover data from crashed hard drive partitions has 5 approaches for recovering lost files after a crash.

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