Backing Up Your Digital Life – Online Options

Online Backup
Backing your files up to the internet (or “the cloud”) is the easiest solution. There are services and utilities that will automatically store a copy (or “sync”) of your files to a server. The advantage it a set it and forget it process that will run in the background and whenever you create a new file will automatically add that file to the backup. This type of service requires an internet connect with a good upload speed. The downside is your data is now on a 3rd party system and if they mess up their security your files could be accessed by parties you do not wish. Further you should assume that any government agency could gain access to your information and there is no way to physically destroy it. This type of service is easy to justify for things like your vacation photos of the beach that you might share anyway, if you have any documents you truly want to have a high level of privacy on you need to consider other options. Also the first backup can take a long time as all your data needs to be uploaded and most internet connections have a much slower upload speed than download.

Personally I use a service called Carbonite ( that costs about $60 per year for the basic plan. The Carbonite software runs in the background and automatically backs up all my important files such as pictures and documents. The basic plan does not automatically backup video files, so when I do move video files to my computer from my camera I have to remember to mark them for backup by right-clicking on them and selecting backup from the Carbonite menu. If I was willing to pay $150 per year it would also automatically backup my video files. I consider the data on my computer to be far more valuable than the computer itself. 15+ years of digital pictures of my family cannot be replaced if they are lost. Another nice feature is I can access my files from anyplace by logging onto the Carbonite site. So if I’m at a friend’s house and we get talking about old times and I want to pull up a picture to share I can do it with my phone. I am considering looking for another provider at my next renewal to find one that includes video files automatically at the basic service level. BackBlaze is the current front-runner.

I would be careful of relying on a non-paid service for backup. When you do not have a financial relationship with a service they are under no obligation to keep your files.  However Google Drive may be a viable option, but I haven’t found a way to automatically sync my files to Google Drive.  Lastly periodically do some tests of your online backup service to make sure the files are there and you can get them. A bad backup is worse than no backup because it gives you a false sense of security.

Photo/Video Only Backup
Google recently launched Google Photos and this is a service that will automatically backup your photos and videos. There are two options “High Quality” and “Original” If you are willing to go with their “High Quality” setting the service is free and does not have a limit. The claim is if you are using a 16MP of less camera you will not lose any quality by using this “High Quality” optimized setting. If you are using high-end equipment you would want to go with “Original”, but that does have a limit on how much space you can use for free. However buying additional space is very reasonable at $2/month for 100GB.

Amazon Prime members get unlimited photo backup with their prime membership. This is for all your devices/computers. So you can have your phones and tablets automatically upload to your prime account. Nice additional benefit to prime and it covers multiple devices which other online backup services require an additional fee. But again it is only for photos, but you do get some cloud storage with prime that your other files could be stored on. Not really going to work for videos since they use up your cloud storage allotment.