Why You Need Online Backup Services

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of IDrive. All opinions are 100% mine.

The hard drive in your computer is in one of two states right now. It’s either going to fail or it already failed. Hard drives are inherently fragile things with no built in redundancy. If your drive is in the already failed state, this article won’t help you much and you’d be better off reading about a drive recovery solution. On the other hand, if your drive is currently functioning, it’s in that going to fail state and you should pay close attention.

Backing up computer files is one of the hardest things to get computer users of all levels to commit to. There’s this general assumption that everything will be ok and just work. When catastrophe happens and a drive fails, after the initial wave of panic is over people seem genuinely shocked their computer let them down. The solution, of course, is to make a backup before your drive fails, so you never have to worry about losing your data.

If you currently backup your data locally, by copying files to a second drive or putting them on DVD, you’re ahead of most people. A local backup isn’t good enough to guarantee data protection. That second drive could just as easily fail and I’ve had DVDs that corrupt and require special recovery software to become readable again. There’s also the risk your house could burn down or a UFO could send out an EMP blast and wipe your magnetic drives, so generally speaking storing your backup offsite, by using an online backup solution is more reliable.

There are a number of online backup solutions designed to automate backing up your files and folders. Each of them offers slightly different service, but all have the general theme of taking data from your computer and storing it safely online. IDrive is one of those solutions. One of the things that sets IDrive apart from many of the alternatives is they’ve built their own infrastructure for backing up and warehousing your data. IDrive is optimized for the kind of performance necessary for online backup, which means they do things like automatically de-duplicate the data that’s backed up, so you aren’t wasting space backing up the exact same file twice. IDrive uses its own sync process to monitor and backup your data, picking up where it left off even if your Internet connection is temporarily unavailable.

Isn’t backing up to the cloud risky? Your data is stored in an encrypted format when it is backed up to IDrive, which prevents a hacker intrusion from easily accessing your information. If you require a greater level of security, you can use your own private encryption key to further reduce possible exposure to data intrusion. The likelihood of an enterprise level server infrastructure like IDrive going down is far less than the possibility that your own hard drive or local backup will fail. Most home users and small businesses simply can’t afford the infrastructure and engineering talent available to a company like IDrive, which is why purchasing their service makes more sense. And while I suppose there’s no guarantee IDrive won’t have an outage at some point, according to company data, there has never been an incident of customer data loss.

IDrive Online BackupThe first time you install IDrive, it scans the drives on your computer to determine how much data you have and how much you can backup. If there’s enough space, IDrive will automatically backup files in all the common folders on your computer, like your Documents, Pictures, and Videos. While IDrive will restrict the amount of space you can use, depending on which account you signed up for, they don’t limit the size of the files you back up. If you have a 100GB video file and your IDrive account has available space, IDrive will back it up. By default, your IDrive backup is scheduled for a time you won’t be likely to use your computer, so the data transfer doesn’t get in the way of your normal computing. After that first backup, IDrive monitors changes in your files and makes incremental backups of any file that changes.

Some files can be harder to backup than others, like the .pst file used by Outlook, or the data file for your accounting software. If the application is open, these files get locked by the application. IDrive can still back them up, so you won’t need to worry about losing important email or financial data.

One thing that helps define a great product is the quality of support you get when you need. Apple’s Genius Bar comes to mind as an example of great support, but Apple only provides you support for things you purchased. While IDrive doesn’t have any stores you can walk into, it does provide full support for its free version. If you want advice or assistance in configuring your backup the first time, or decide you need help optimizing your backup down the road, you can get a live person on the phone no matter which version of IDrive you are using.

IDrive isn’t just for those times when you have a catastrophic hard drive failure. We’ve all made mistakes where the wrong file gets deleted or the best parts of an old version get overwritten. IDrive is great for these situations because you can go back and retrieve the file you deleted or go back a few versions and recover the bits you eliminated. IDrive can’t see into the past forever, but it does go back up to 30 versions, which should be enough for almost any scenario.

So what happens when your hard drive fails? If your hard drive fails, you can recover the data to a new drive or to an entirely different computer. You just need to install the IDrive client after you replace the failed drive or sign in from a new computer and download your backed up files. Since IDrive offers maximum redundancy for up to one terabyte of data and unlimited accounts with slightly less redundancy, there may be instances when you need your data back faster than you can download it. If you have hundreds of gigabytes backed up, you can use the IDrive Portable Rapid Serve, which overnights you a hard drive with up to 320GB of your data for a fee. Depending on the speed of your home or business Internet connection, Rapid Serve could be a faster option than waiting for data to download.

iPhone integration – IDrive Lite is a free contact backup for mobile devices with Android, iOS, and BlackBerry. You can backup your photos from an iPhone or iPad with IDrive Photo Backup for free too. But one of the best features of IDrive integration for iOS is the ability to browse the files backed up from your Mac or Windows computer and either preview the file or share them with a contact.

You can get started with a free IDrive account by downloading the free software and trying out IDrive Basic, which offers all the same features as IDrive Pro with a maximum of 5GB of files. As of this writing, if you create a new IDrive account and backup 1GB of data, you get a $10 iTunes gift card.