Rather than using an external hard drive, what’s your opinion and/or advice
about backing up to the Cloud such as with Carbonite? Wouldn’t that be the
simplest way? Also since I have backup discs of my operating system and factory
settings, is it necessary to also backup my OS? I’d really rather not trust an
external unit, which could be damaged just like my laptop. I’m running Windows
7 Home, IE9 on a Dell laptop.
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Cloud backup vs. external drive
Well, it really depends on what it is you’re attempting to accomplish.
Cloud-based backup is fine with two caveats.
Know what is backed up
One is you need to make absolutely sure you understand what it is
and is not backing up.
Generally, the cloud-based backup will backup your data files. In fact it
will backup only the data files that it finds in or under “My Documents.” For
many people, that’s plenty. For many, it’s a surprise because it’s not backing
up your entire computer; it’s backing up your data.
The other thing you need to realize is that it’s going to use your internet
connection. It will depend on how much data it has to upload (and it will be
the upload speed that matters here, not the download speed).
Depending on how much data it needs to upload to perform a backup, that
first backup can take a really long time. Even incremental backups (or
subsequent backups that happen after that) can still take a long time if your
internet connection is slow and the amount of data that needs to be backed up
So be very aware of that. Like I said, many people end up being surprised by
the upload requirements of cloud-based backup – and this is true of things like
Carbonite, Jungle Disc, Mozy, and a bunch of others. They’re focused on backing
up your data and only your data because backing up your entire computer would
simply take too long.
Image backup of entire computer
Now, should you backup your entire computer? I believe you should. But it’s
a decision that you need to make.
I absolutely love and rely on image backups, followed by incremental image
backups happening nightly, to backup my computer if anything goes wrong for any
Yes, you could absolutely go back to factory settings. But then you’re also
faced with reinstalling all of your applications, reconfiguring all of your
applications, all of the customizations and settings that you’ve made over
time, recovering your data from your backup and then hoping… hoping that
everything you needed backed up actually was.
By doing an incremental image backup of your machine nightly (I happen to do
a full backup once a month and incremental nightly), you’re guaranteed that what
is backed up on whatever media you choose (external hard disk, or another
machine on your network, or a network attached storage), everything is
Every file on you computer is there. There is no need to worry; there’s no
need to guess.
Both are valuable
So, my recommendation – be aware of what it is that happens and that is
different between Cloud backup and traditional computer-based backup.
They absolutely each have their role; they can be used in conjunction.
For example, it might be a nice compromise to instead do an image backup
to an external drive once a month and do your Carbonite daily. But realize that
they are two very different kinds of backup and that living without a backup of
your computer can actually have some surprising costs should something actually
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
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