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Is anyone using the Cloud as offsite storage/backup?
Thread poster: Tom in London

Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
Member (2008)
Italian to English
Jan 24, 2011

I have become concerned about what might happen were my home to be burned out/flooded or some other similar disaster.

I back everything up (of course) but currently my backups are in my home and physically, there isn't anywhere offsite where I would be happy to put them.

For those reasons I am considering using the Cloud as offsite storage/backup. However since there seem to be various options out there, and there are issues of privacy/cost/reliability, I wonder if any Proz colleagues are using the Cloud and what their experience is?


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Nickolas Dagostino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:12
Portuguese to English
CrashPlan Jan 24, 2011

Hey there,
I've been using online storage for years, and I LOVE it. I used Mozy for the longest while and liked the personal service I received.

However, with time, I felt that Mozy just wasn't improving their s/w and taking care of bugs as fast & efficiently as they should have. So, I have recently switched to CrashPlan.

I'm VERY happy with CrashPlan thus far. Though, to be honest, I still haven't done any verification tests.

Most of these companies offer a flat rate price for unlimited space. With CP (CrashPlan) I have over 150gb backed up. And, it's worked much more efficiently & rapidly than Mozy. (Mozy got slower & slower as you increased the backup size.) I pay 60 USD / year for this service. And, CrashPlan has a nice 120 USD / year family plan (for up to 5 computers or somethign).

Keep in mind, online backup should not be considered the same as on-site backup. You do NOT want to back up images of your hard drive. You should be backing up your data. So, if your house does burn down, you can buy a new computer, reinstall all the programs, then download all your data (translated docs, photos, music, etc).

I think it's necessary for any one, let alone a professional, to have a local backup (that's more frequent & from which you can restore your entire hard drive) and an off-site backup.

Both Mozy & CrashPlan encrypt the data on your computer (with your own key, if you choose) before sending it out into cyber space. If you pick a good key, your data will be safe. (You must not lose this key.)

Hope this helped!

-nick


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Started using it yesterday... Jan 24, 2011

Indeed that was my main concern when I decided to test one of the options for my desktop computer. We in the office backup our server systematically (on removable HDDs and a tape drive), but my desktop was not copied as regularly, although it does contain my email.

Even if we are in the process of moving to a server-based email server (which will mean that our messages are not in the desktops but in the server and get included in our backups), I decided to test Carbonite (www.carbonite.com). I had tried other options in the past, like LogMeIn Backup (www.logmein.com) but was not satisfied. Carbonite es extremely easy to use, gives clear information about what has been backed up and how many versions are available (simply integrating the Windows' Explorer), is not consuming a noticeable throughput of our DSL line, and is not an expensive option at all (roughly US$ 5 per month with no limit, as far as I can tell).

I will be able to report more about Carbonite in a few days, but so far it looks like a good option.

To me, the whole idea of cloud backup makes total sense as long as the protection and privacy of your data is guaranteed, as seems the case with most providers.


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Aude Sylvain  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:12
English to French
+ ...
Other threads Jan 24, 2011

Hi Tom,
you may find these threads of interest http://www.proz.com/forum/safe_computing/187784-recommending_software_for_syncing_from_desktop_to_laptop.html; http://www.proz.com/forum/office_applications/180205-would_you_recommend_using_dropbox_free_version.html

Sarah, in the 1st thread, was speaking about syncing data between several computers, but I assume all the applications listed do also keep a backup.

I am using Dropbox currently (I must admit I never tried any other app) and am pretty happy with it. The interface is very user friendly and you can also access your files via a smartphone (at least iPhone) if needed.
Obviously this must be coupled with an encryption program, I do not think DropBox encrypts the files automatically.

Aude


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
A question Jan 24, 2011

I'm a bit worried about bandwidth, as I have a lot of stuff to upload and I use an ordinary home connection, which is good for d/l but perhaps not so good for uploading.

So one of my questions is: after I have done my initial big upload, is uploading incremental after that?


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Aude Sylvain  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:12
English to French
+ ...
incremental uploading Jan 24, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
after I have done my initial big upload, is uploading incremental after that?


yes, it is (with Dropbox at least: https://www.dropbox.com/help/8).


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Why not? Jan 24, 2011

Nickolas Dagostino wrote:

You do NOT want to back up images of your hard drive.
-nick


Why not, Nick? THe most important thing I want to do is to have a *complete bootable clone* of my entire hard drive, somewhere safe in the Cloud so that if something bad happens to my main computer I can simply clone from the Cloud to another computer.

BTW I'm a Mac user and bootable cloning is very easy on the Mac OS.


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opolt  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 11:12
English to German
+ ...
Use a local service Jan 24, 2011

I would say that offsite storage is a very good idea, just make sure that the probability of your "cloud" provider shutting you out or going down is lower than your home being destroyed. :-]

The former may sound a bit far-fetched, but as the latest Wikileaks embroglio and other, similar cases have shown, such a provider may leave you in the lurch without any notice and on less than flimsy legal grounds ... and I'm sure it will happen again.

If you're really concerned about industrial strength safety, it's IMHO much better to rely on a more local backup provider in your own jurisdiction, not on a cloud service in a faraway country (with servers/cables/satellites distributed worldwide), over which you have no legal recourse whatsoever, and whose infrastructure might be affected by remote crises/desasters of any imaginable kind ...

At any rate, make sure your data are encrypted either through your own software, or as stipulated by the contract with your backup site.

Just my 2 €cents -- personally I believe that "cloud services" are not much more than a fad (on the normal desktop user level).


[Edited at 2011-01-24 19:07 GMT]


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Tom in London
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
Member (2008)
Italian to English
TOPIC STARTER
Yes but Jan 24, 2011

opolt wrote:

I would say that offsite storage is a very good idea, just make sure that the probability of your "cloud" provider shutting you out or going down is lower than your home being destroyed. :-]

The former may sound a bit far-fetched, but as the latest Wikileaks embroglio and other, similar cases have shown, such a provider may leave you in the lurch without any notice and on less than flimsy legal grounds ... and I'm sure it will happen again.

If you're really concerned about industrial strength safety, it's IMHO much better to rely on a more local backup provider in your own jurisdiction, not on a cloud service in a faraway country (with servers/cables/satellites distributed worldwide), over which you have no legal recourse whatsoever, and whose infrastructure might be affected by remote crises/desasters of any imaginable kind ...

At any rate, make sure your data are encrypted either through your own software, or as stipulated by the contract with your backup site.

Just my 2 €cents -- personally I believe that "cloud services" are not much more than a fad (on the normal desktop user level).


[Edited at 2011-01-24 19:07 GMT]


Yes, I've read this - because Cloud computing is still in its infancy, people are suggesting that many startup companies will not succeed long-term. Maybe I just need to find somewhere outside my home where I can store a hard drive.


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Tomás Cano Binder, BA, CT  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 11:12
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
Then cloud backup is not your option... Jan 24, 2011

Tom in London wrote:
Nickolas Dagostino wrote:
You do NOT want to back up images of your hard drive.

Why not, Nick? THe most important thing I want to do is to have a *complete bootable clone* of my entire hard drive, somewhere safe in the Cloud so that if something bad happens to my main computer I can simply clone from the Cloud to another computer.

I don't think this is possible in the first place, but in any case I think that you would be better off using an external hard drive and a backup tool that can make an image of your bootable disk to the external drive.

May I also recommend that you make a bootable DVD containing an antivirus? It is far more likely that a virus corrupts your ability to boot your system than physical damage to the hard drive. I reckon most serious antivirus software has an option to make such a bootable+antivirus disks. At least NOD32 allows you to make such an image (in an ISO file) in a couple of minutes, after which you burn that image to a DVD.


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Romeo Mlinar  Identity Verified
Portugal
Local time: 10:12
Member (2009)
English to Serbian
+ ...
idrive.com Jan 24, 2011

I use idrive.com. I like their "invisible" software and the fact that all my files are encrypted before the upload.

For local backup I use Arconis True Image.


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Steven Capsuto  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 05:12
Spanish to English
+ ...
Cloud-free here Jan 25, 2011

I don't like to put my clients' proprietary data on a third-party server if I can help it.

I make well-encrypted physical backups daily. Roughly one per month gets stored off site.


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Nickolas Dagostino  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 03:12
Portuguese to English
drive images Jan 25, 2011

Tom in London wrote:

Nickolas Dagostino wrote:

You do NOT want to back up images of your hard drive.
-nick


Why not, Nick? THe most important thing I want to do is to have a *complete bootable clone* of my entire hard drive, somewhere safe in the Cloud so that if something bad happens to my main computer I can simply clone from the Cloud to another computer.

BTW I'm a Mac user and bootable cloning is very easy on the Mac OS.



(First, I'm using a 2010 Macbook Pro)

Well, it's more a matter of using the right tool for the right situation. You don't really want your online backup s/w to be running endlessly -- b/c of it eating up bandwidth, battery power, or CPU cycles. Any system will have a zillion system files that are constantly changing, and if you backup your entire system, your computer will never really stop backing up. It's just not efficient over the net. (Also, I've read a small bit about meta-data that OS X keeps for various files, and that most online services don't properly save off this data. So, a full restore could end up with a system that is using a lot of files w/ incorrect meta-data. I don't know if this is a minor or major inconvenience. I think it would mess Finder up and NOT affect the contents of your files.)

In my situation, I used an external hard drive & Time Machine for my entire-disk backups (technically, I don't think they're considered images, but I could and have recovered my entire computer from it). Now, I'm using a Time Capsule simply for its wireless convenience. That's my primary backup. It's fast, convenient, and complete.

Your online backup should, imho, serve 2 purposes:
1. Rarer situations when you want to recover a file when you're away from your computer. I did this a lot when I was living in Brazil, and I wanted to pull files off my old laptop in the US.
2. Worst case scenario when you lose everything, including your local backup.

As far as someone else's comment about backup & such... Well, it depends a LOT on your net connection. It took me a month to backup all my files (60gb at the time) when I was on slow net in Brazil. Now, I've got 15mbps, and it just took a few days. I'm very happy about it. Regardless, it's a bit of a non-issue unless you think your house is about to burn down in the next few days.

(Some services, including CrashPlan, offer an initial upload via a copy to a hard drive they send you. For me, this was too pricey ($150-ish) and not necessary b/c of my fast net here.)

As for incrementals, well, all these programs should be file by file. So, yes, it should be incremental. Some offer priority folders (so when many files change, certain folders will always be uploaded first) (I think CrashPlan offers this). Most offer version control (CrashPlan & Mozy do).

From the research & reviews I read, CrashPlan seemed like the best bet for Mac. Others will have their favorites, but I'm thrilled with CrashPlan's performance. It doesn't eat up my CPU (Mozy did), and it has incredible compression to upload files faster. Mozy didn't have that at all. Plus, CP is Java-based and seems to be designed from the start for multiple platforms. Mozy's Mac s/w was always an afterthought.

Talking about security & privacy...
Well, assuming whichever software you're using is properly coded and properly encrypts files, even the US government would have difficulties decrypting any of your files (assuming a good password). If you're absolutely that paranoid about privacy (and I'm pretty paranoid about such things), you've got bigger issues. Or, you should be more concerned with malware, keyloggers, etc. As for someone intercepting my upload or a CrashPlan security breach? I'm not worried. It's much more likely that someone will steal my laptop when I'm looking the other way than having it intercepted & decrypted thru a backup service. (Which, btw, I have PGP whole-disk encryption for my Mac. Unfortunately, it's pricey and TrueCrypt isn't an option for Mac OS X.)

DropBox:
Good & convenient for a limited number of files and shorter-term use. But, it's not meant to be an online backup system, and I don't think was designed as such. I don't think the security's there, and I remember reading about more meta-data questions wrt DropBox. I still use it but just in certain situations.

Email:
I actually have 2 gmail accounts. One account simply downloads all the email from the other via POP. It'd be unlikely that Google would lose BOTH accounts. Plus, I was able to configure Mac Mail (thanks to a wonderfully written article here http://db.tidbits.com/article/10253 ) so that it works very well with my Google Apps account. So, I've got my email backed up on Google, via Mail's local files, in the Time Capsule, and via CrashPlan. And, after the initial setup, there's no maintenance I have to do. I love it.

Wow, I wrote quite a novel! I hope you find this useful.

-nick


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Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 10:12
French to English
+ ...
If it's encrypted Jan 25, 2011

Steven Capsuto wrote:

I don't like to put my clients' proprietary data on a third-party server if I can help it.

I make well-encrypted physical backups daily. Roughly one per month gets stored off site.


Just to be clear, though: the point of strong encryption is it doesn't matter if a third party gets hold of the (encrypted) data because whether it came from your hard disk, from a CD you left under your doormat or from "the cloud", they can't decrypt it either way. If a rogue party's ability to read your clients' proprietary files depends on where they physically got the data from, you may be doing something wrong.

So I'd recommend looking at how you encrypt the data and where you store that encrypted data as two separate things. Confidentiality relies on the first. Security in the sense of you being able to access the data essentially relies on the second.

For encryption, I'd suggest something like TrueCrypt. For storage of the resulting encrypted data, anywhere convenient that isn't very likely to get physically destroyed is fine-- your Gmail account and your friend's house (and ideally both) should be fine.

[Edited at 2011-01-25 05:59 GMT]


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Aude Sylvain  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 11:12
English to French
+ ...
MobileMe? Jan 25, 2011

Tom, since you are a Mac user did you try Apple's MobileMe?
This offers automatic backup and sync services, with a 20GB storage for the standard subscription.
The iDisk feature seems quite interesting.
http://www.apple.com/mobileme/features/idisk.html

I was thinking about using those services (together with an encryption software, once again), does anyone here use or have been using that? The subscription fee is more expensive than some others (eg Dropbox), but I assume they are less risk that they suddenly disappear...


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