Laptop Data Backup: Using Online Services Versus Local Copies

by Rod Dunne on August 17, 2010

in Articles, Backup Software, Laptop

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The main laptop and computer backup options to consider these days are to either copy your files to a local network/hard-drive/CD/DVD or consider the more modern approach of uploading files to a web-based service.

Here, we’ll look at the pros and cons of each approach to highlight which types of user they might ideally suit.

Laptop Data Backup: Saving Files To Local Systems

The more traditional approach for a laptop backup has been to copy your data to CDs/DVDs. More recently, external hard drives have become an essential backup device as they can store an entire ghost image of your laptop, at very little cost. Office users can also do a full laptop data backup to a local network server.


  • It is quick and easy to recover data from the disk/hard drives/network.
  • No web connection is needed to transfer the files.
  • Your data transfer limit is only constrained by the media type you use (i.e. the number of DVDs you need to burn, or the disk size of the HDD).
  • It is relatively cheap to setup. CD, DVD and HDD prices have plummeted.


  • The close proximity of the original computer and the laptop backup media/devices poses the risk of both being lost during a theft/fire damage. You could get around this by storing backup copies a good distance from the laptop.
  • Backup utility software generally has to be manually invoked, as opposed to running as a scheduled task. Or to put it another way, the user must remember to run a backup.

Verdict: This is ideal for laptop users who want to protect their data and would be reticent of storing personal files online. It is the main approach to go for if you have a slow web connection or intend keeping a ghost image of the entire laptop contents.

Suggested Backup Utility Software: Final Sync – Backup utility software that allows you to copy/sync files between multiple pieces of hardware (laptop <-> external drives <-> USB memory sticks)

Final Sync | Click Here To Learn More

Laptop Data Backup: Uploading Files To Remote/Web-Based Systems

The past decade has seen computer owners become more at ease with storing personal data online. In parallel to this, broadband speeds have increased dramatically which improve upload speeds for large files. These factors mean users are more inclined to consider storing a laptop data backup to an online service, rather than use local devices.


  • It is possible to view and recover data from anywhere on the web (over secure web connections).
  • These web services use backup utility programs to automate backing up your files as background activities, so you don’t have to worry about remembering to backup data.
  • These services use redundant data storage facilities to clone your data backup to several servers and locations (reducing the risk of one system being lost/damaged).


  • A fast web connection is essential. And without a connection, the laptop data backup cannot operate.
  • Monthly cost of using the service.
  • Upload limits normally apply, or you are charged based on data volumes. This could limit this approach to only doing partial backups.

Verdict: This approach is best suited to laptop users who are away from home for long periods and do not wish to be burdened with additional back-up hardware. If you have access to a good quality internet connection on a regular basis then doing an incremental laptop backup to the online server should be quite quick. You can recover data from any machine which can prove useful if hot-swapping between several machines.

Suggested Online Data Backup Service: iDrive/My Live Drive – Provides 2GB of space for a laptop data backup. Data is uploaded to their online servers so doesn’t require external hard drives to store the data.

 iDrive | Click Here To Learn More

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