Backing Up For Disasters via Carbonite

What are you doing about your backups of your home computer?

If your home computer is anything like mine, there are tons of pictures on there. Some (or perhaps most or all) of those are probably irreplaceable.

The events of the past couple of months (urban fires, earthquakes, tornados, floods) have gotten me thinking about what would happen if that computer ‘went away’. All of those pictures gone. Not to mention some other important files.

In the past, I’ve tried several things. I’ve backed up files to CD (and DVD), but that takes a while. I bought an external hard drive (they are getting quite inexpensive), and copied files to it. I even got another computer and copying files to it. Those are good ways to back up important files.

If you remember to do it.

I probably have maybe two sets of DVD’s. And only one backup to the external hard disk. And the computer thing never really worked out (partly because of my own inertia). So I don’t really a good backup plan in case of disaster.

I figured I needed something that I could set up and forget. The backups needed to be stored off-site. It needed to be automatic. And it needed to happen regularly.

So I decided on using an on-line backup service. I looked at a couple, and settled on Carbonite (www.carbonite.com – which loads a bit slowly because they have this irritating movie that starts up). The cost was reasonable – $49.95/year. Files are backed up automatically over your Internet connection. The backups happen in the background, with a lower priority/load if you are surfing the net. They keep multiple levels of backups of a file – if you make changes to a file, then older backed up versions are still available. And the data is all encrypted.

So I signed up. Quite easy. Name, email, password (and hints), and a credit card number. Download some software, install it (the usual bunch of Next keys), minor configuration (you can specify what folders to back up), done. And the backups start happening.

A little icon in the task bar shows you that things are working. A double-click of that icon and you can see what’s happening.

I don’t have an exact figure of the amount of disk space it backed up. It did take about two weeks to do it on my cable modem connection. But you didn’t notice any slowdown when the files were being copied.

Once the first backup happens, the program just watches for new stuff. Since my wife is constantly scanning pictures (she’s really into scrapbooking) with one or both of our two scanners, those new files are automatically backed up to the Carbonite servers.

It all Just Works. The Carbonite web site (www.carbonite.com ) has all the details (although I wish they would get rid of the video that automatically loads when you go to the site). They do have a 15-day free trial. But I recommend that you just go for it.

The files on my computer are worth it.

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