Have you ever considered using an online backup service before? What would you do if your computer died on you? Have you thought about how you’d cope in terms of potentially losing your important files forever?
Well I’ve recently got to find out that for myself as one night last week my computer’s power supply died with a loud bang, plunging us into darkness as it knocked off the whole house’s electricity and left me with the definitive smell of dead power supply — definitely not something that I like the smell of in the morning, evening or any other time of day!
So what’s the first thing that you think about after this happens? – other than pulling out all the cables and moving it outside to make sure it’s not going to burn down your house?
Backups Seem Like A Good Idea Now!
What might I have lost in terms of data, files, photos, videos?
Obviously, the majority of things on my computer are downloaded from the Internet or installed from CDs or DVDs whether it’s games, applications, music or videos. All of that’s replaceable with the only cost being a bit of my time to get it re-downloaded and/or set back up.
It’s the other stuff, the personal stuff, the stuff that can’t simply be re-created, be it your photo collection, your family videos, your personal finances or anything else that you’ve created during the course of your computing history which once lost is lost!
Luckily, I’d just been centralising all my personal data into the one set of folders (my Windows 7 profile/library folders) and I do kind of have a backup process for that vital data of mine — I copy across that data to an external USB hard disk whenever I remember to do so! Not the best of backup processes, but at least it sometimes gets done and I have something to revert to if required.
I say “if required” because as yet I’ve not re-built my computer and seen the actual extent of the damage, I’m hoping to find that it was just the power supply that died and the rest of my computer system is fine, but until I see that for myself, I’m going with the assumption I’ve lost everything and seeing where that then leaves me.
This assumption is making for an interesting exercise right now if nothing else and certainly puts things into perspective and makes you consider the various backup options available to you, I did the first in this list, but it’s not much good if your house burns down in a fire, so I’ll also be considering the other two:
- On-Site Physical Backup (To An External Hard Disk) – Free Windows Backup Software Solution
- Off-Site Physical Backup (To An External Hard Disk or DVD which is then stored at a different physical location)
- Online Computer Backup Service (Carbonite)
I’ll cover each of these in more detail in separate upcoming articles.
Over the past couple of years I’ve started to embrace “living in the cloud” a lot more than I first thought I would — initially I was very sceptical over a whole combination of issues such as availability (uptime), ease of access, usability, security and was rightly proven correct with regard to those aforementioned issues on occasion, at least to begin with.
However, as these online services have become more robust and with more features, I’ve started using more of them. I currently use various applications and services in the cloud such as Google Mail, Google Calendar, SkyDrive, Google Docs (when needed) which have certainly been put to the test in the past week since I’ve not been able to use my main desktop PC.
I’ve been able to continue working quite smoothly as most of my day-to-day working tasks are handled online and are accessible from any computer with an internet connection — in this case, I’ve been using my laptop, it’s been an interesting experience and just goes to show that it’s quite possible to run an online business from anywhere in the world with a half-decent internet connection! — Good to know for any future travelling you might want to do!
Overall, I’m a little surprised how little I’m actually missed losing my main desktop PC, although there were some files on it I could have used in the past week, nothing particularly vital, in fact the things I’ve missed most of all are using my large 24” widescreen monitor (which makes working on multiple documents that bit easier) and the entertainment aspect of being able to watch videos and play games, especially the new Tales of Monkey Island game which I’d just started playing when the power supply died to begin with — although I’m sure that’s just coincidental, so don’t let it stop you playing it! 🙂
The past week has certainly been an interesting one for me, have you ever lost access to your main desktop PC? Did you miss it? Or do you live entirely off a laptop these days? What are your thoughts on the cloud in general?
Simon Barker is the founder and editor of Zath and has over 25 years worth of experience of using computers and technology in general. He can normally be found researching or testing the latest in technology products.
He has provided IT consultancy services to both home and small business users for over 15 years, building PCs, fixing hardware/software problems and providing comprehensive training.
Simon always likes to get the best out of the technology he is using, by both making informed decisions of what products to purchase and also optimising how it is then used to get the most benefits possible.
If you’d like to follow and/or contact him on Twitter, please feel free to do so – @SimonBarker.