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Doing backups over the internet

I spoke a bit about backups in the previous posts. I guess most of the people are doing backups locally (to a disk (array), to DVDs/CDs, tapes, etc.) or even not doing them at all (ouch). The first group faces a problem of media size and of possibility of a local disaster (backups and computers might be destroyed at same time). While the second group is totally unprotected probably because doing backups is not exactly easy (just imagine backing up few gigs of photos to CDs) or just because of ignorance.
Here kicks in the idea of doing backups over the internet which appeals to both group of people – data is far away and thus protected from local catastrophes and there is no hassle of managing storage media. All you need is a broadband internet connection – the faster the better.  And you can combine it with local backup, why not.
Carbonite is internet backup service provider targeting average Windows PC users who need to backup photos, documents, music, similar stuff and don’t like to think too much about the process. Right, they are dirty cheap and their backup software you need to run is so simple that even your mother might use – it is like fire and forget. Did I mention that they are very generous by not providing any space limitation (well, this is actually limited by common sense and your upload speed as most broadbands don’t really have a huge upload speed – actually it does around 2 GB/day for me having a declared upload speed of 384kbit/s). Ok, they probably won’t let you upload that TB of data you have but for an average user would be probably enough as there won’t be a gig of changes per day.
How does it work? You install the software you download from carbonite website, decide whether you let it decide the folders to store or pick the folders manually and that’s it. Carbonite backup runs as a service and watches for changes in selected folders (network folders are not supported in case you wonder) . You can see the backup status directly in windows explorer (there are colored dots near the folder icons) and you can pick folders to backup from within windows explorer, too (right click on folder, Carbonite submenu). It was designed to be simple and it is – there are no sophisticated options at all. But hey, it is targeted at an average user who doesn’t care anyway – the less he has to interact with backup the better. And an average user doesn’t run a x64 OS either so x64 OS aren’t supported at this time (this fact isn’t very well documented) which I learned only after installing on my Windows 2003 OS.
As I just started with Carbonite I’ll just backup my photos for now. “Just my photos” actually means 14 GB or stuff (isn’t amazing how the photo archive groves once you have children) and I am something like 16% done after a day of uploading – works as advertised.
How about security? You certainly don’t want every “photo” to travel over the web in plain form, do you? Carbonite claims that they do encryption at your side using your personal key that is mirrored at their side, just for a precaution. It is reasonably secure but if you want greater control over security you would encrypt the files by yourself or turn to another provider.
The bottom line is that I like Carbonite backup so far. I always liked the idea of backing up data over the net to some remote location. I wouldn’t mind having more control over the process itself, but hey, for that price I get more than enough space at extremely low price – a great combination.

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