Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Security

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Security

Article excerpt

Backups

The Importance of Local and Cloud Backups

One of the most important things you can do to protect your data is to make sure it's safely backed up on a regular basis. If you're like many people, you either don't have backups at all, don't have recent backups, or don't have all of your devices and data backed up. It's a good idea to back up all of your computers and all of your mobile devices. Having both local backups and cloud backups will protect against the loss of data in many different situations. If your house is destroyed in a fire and you had backups only on local hard drives, you might lose both the computers and the drives.

Many people wonder about the security of backing up your data to cloud services. These days, most security experts recommend doing so, and when you learn more about the security practices of the best services, you can feel more confident about using them.

Cloud Synchronization vs. Cloud Backup

Cloud services can be grouped into several different types. Here we'll look at two types: cloud sync services and cloud backup services.

Some examples of cloud sync services are Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft's OneDrive, and Box. These services are used to keep particular folders or directories of documents in sync across multiple devices. For example, when you add or change a file in your Dropbox folder on your computer, it also appears in the same folder in the app on your mobile phone. Change it on one device, and the change happens on all of your connected devices. In this way, they stay in sync. Sync services often have free versions for a limited amount of data and offer tiered pricing for syncing larger amounts of data. Most of these services also have special pricing for non-profits and educational institutions.

Some examples of cloud backup services are Back-blaze, iDrive, Carbonite, and SpiderOak ONE. These services are designed to automatically back up all the files on your computer on a regular basis to an encrypted remote location, with easy ways to restore your files in case your computer is lost, stolen, has a virus, or is otherwise destroyed. They usually provide a way to "set it and forget it," with an app that you set up once and runs silently in the background, keeping your files safely backed up. These services usually have a reasonable monthly or yearly fee and often have special pricing for educational institutions and non-profits. (1)

Even if you keep most of your important files in a service like Dropbox, it's still a good idea to have a dedicated backup service like Backblaze that will handle complete backups of all of your files and make it easy to get up and running quickly if your computer is stolen. Most of these services have an option for sending your files to you on a portable hard drive so that you can get your files back quickly without having to download them all over the internet.

These services encrypt your files before they leave your computer, so the files can't be accessed while in transit or on the company's servers (except via a warrant, subpoena, or court order). Some services let you add an encryption key known only to you, so even the employees of the remote service can't access your data under court order. The best services offer unlimited storage at a fixed price so that no matter how much your data needs grow, your files will be backed up.

You might wonder why it's not enough to use sync services like Dropbox or OneDrive for this purpose. They are wonderful services for what they do, but they don't usually offer the option of a private encryption key for your most sensitive files, like many cloud backup services. They also require you to add files to a certain location on your computer in order for them to be synchronized, and they don't keep previous versions of your files.

To learn more about all the features of these services, with a recommendation of the best one for your needs, see "The Best Online Cloud Backup Service" by Joe Kissell. …

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