You probably already know that backup data services can save you thousands of dollars—so why aren’t you using them already? Are you hoping that you’ll have the one disk drive on Earth that will never fail? Or are you thinking that you’ve already done a good enough job backing up your data? Here are a few reasons you’re still at risk and how backup data services can save you money and help you sleep well at night.
Backup Data Services Aren’t Google
So much of what we do today happens “in the cloud.” Google stores our email on highly-redundant servers, Yahoo! Flickr stores our photos in a huge data center, Twitter and WordPress store our blogs and microblogs in dozens of facilities internationally. And if any of these businesses managed to lose our data, they’d lose our business too—so they have a strong vested interest in keeping our data safe. In a sense, all of these services are their own backup data services.
But no matter how much of your data is in the cloud, there’s still probably something that isn’t backed up. Maybe it’s something private you don’t trust Google or Yahoo! with, or maybe it’s something from before you switched to GMail or WordPress. It could even be a personalization on your computer—a special configuration file you labored over, your accounting files, or your painstakingly-assembled music collection.
These files are your life. Try living without them right now: create a new user account on your computer (call it Test or Testing) and start using it full-time. You can use any online service, like GMail, but don’t touch any of your old user’s files. See how long it takes you to start missing your data. It probably won’t take that long—and that’s why you need backup data services.
How Much Money Will Backup Data Services Save You?
While you’re still logged into the Test user account and missing your data, start making an inventory of all the data you miss. Next to each item, record how much it would cost you to recreate it (in hours of work) or to buy it again (in dollars). Multiply your hours of work times what you’d charge for your services and create a grand total. For example:
- MP3 collection: 1,000 songs at $0.99/song: $990
- 12 years accounting history: 40 hours per year at $20/hour: $9,600
- Unfinished book: 200 hours at $20/hour: $4,000
- Total: $14,590
And that doesn’t count priceless photos and documents which can’t be recreated, such as private vacation photos, personal diaries, and your own artwork.
How One Hour A Year With Backup Data Services Can Save You $14,518.12
Using backup data services isn’t hard and it isn’t expensive—especially not when compared to losing all of the data on a typical computer. You can even try some of the best online backup data services for free.
One of the most popular ways to backup files (and also share some of those files with other people) is Dropbox. Dropbox is free for the first two gigabytes of backup and it’s dead simple to use. Go to Dropbox.com and download the client for your platform. (Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux are all supported.) Install the client and it will create a Dropbox folder on your desktop. Simply put any files you want to backup into this folder and they’ll be automatically backed up on Dropbox’s servers.
Every file backed up to Dropbox’s servers exists on at least four different disk drives—and at least one of those disk drives is guaranteed to be at least 500 miles away from the other three disk drives, ensuring that not even a typical natural disaster can destroy your data.
Dropbox has a ton of other great features which you can read about on Dropbox.com, but it does have one detraction: it’s the most expensive of backup data services listed here after you leave the free 2 gigabyte plan. A 100 gigabyte plan costs $19.99 a month, which is almost the cost of buying your own 100 gigabyte disk drive each month to use with the Windows Backup Wizard.
A cheaper alternative which offers all of the same great backup features as Dropbox (but none of the file sharing options) is Mozy, which costs $5.99 a month for 50 gigabytes or $9.99 a month for 125 gigabytes. Plus, you can get discounts if you pay yearly instead of monthly.
With Mozy, you can also go out and select the files you want to backup instead of having to drop them into a folder as you do with Dropbox.
One of the best features in both Dropbox and Mozy is that they backup your files as you work on them. Here’s how it works: every time you save a file, Dropbox and Mozy (and other backup data services that do the same thing) detect that the file has changed. They use your Internet connection to send only the changes to their servers—that way the backup happens almost instantly and takes up the bare minimum of your Internet bandwidth.
You can also use this feature in reverse: if you discover that you made a bad edit in one of your files but it’s too late to undo it, you can ask Dropbox or Mozy to undo the edit for you. They both save at least 30 days of changes, so you have up to 30 days to discover you made a mistake. That’s one feature you can’t easily get in the Windows Backup Wizard.
Conclusion: The Math Behind Backup Data Services
It isn’t hard to find $14,590.00 of data that hasn’t been backed up on a typical computer. Even without any bulk discounts, Mozy costs only $71.88 a year—so if your computer crashes at the very end of the year, you’ll have saved $14,518.12 by using backup data services.