You’ve heard it hundreds of times if not more — back up the data on your PCs. Maybe you even do this on a regular basis.
Still, as events in the past have proved, it doesn’t do much good to backup your critical data if it’s going to be stored locally. A hurricane or other natural disaster can affect a large area, putting your backup in as much peril as if it was stored at your organization’s site.
Recently, there’s been a lot of buzz about backing up to the “cloud.” There are a number of companies that provide this service, storing your data as a backup on their servers. This is one viable way to reduce the vulnerability of your data to a disaster or fire.
Two potential problems exist with this approach. The first is that not every vendor offering this service has any kind of track record. When you are relying on a cloud-based backup system, you want to feel that the company that you’re using won’t suddenly be gone one day, taking a copy of your data with it. You also need to feel comfortable that your data is not only safe, but is being kept confidential.
A second thing to consider with this approach is that there is an ongoing fee for this service. It varies with the amount of data being stored, but could add up to a significant amount over a year.
Neither of these things is necessarily a deal-breaker, but they are worth considering if you want to move your organizations mission-critical data a significant distance form your physical location.
Another alternative to consider, especially if you have a branch in another city, or even relatives who are located an acceptable distance from your office, is to backup your data to their location. There might still be a question of confidentiality, but it is possible to set things up so that it’s difficult for anyone without specific user rights to gain access to the data.
An inexpensive way to approach this is to use the PogoPlug from Cloud Engines, Inc. This is available in two versions, the Standard PogoPlug and PogoPlug biz. Seagate Technologies also has a similar device, FreeAgent DockStar, which uses technology licensed form Cloud Engines.
All of these are basically tiny embedded Web servers with multiple USB connectors. Plug the PogoPlug into a network, and one or more external USB disk drives into the device, and you can reach those attached external drives from anywhere over the Internet. PogoPlug is primarily marketed as a media-sharing device, so it includes a Web interface for file sharing. But you can also map the distant drive as a network drive, and simply drag-and-drop your data or your entire local hard drive to the drive(s) connected to the PogoPlug.
For multiple users, simply aggregate the data locally on a network drive, then drag-and-drop or use a standard backup application like Acronis to save the data on the drive or drives attached to the PogoPlug. With four USB ports, the PogoPlug can accommodate four external drives (or even flash drives). With external drives available in capacities of up to 3TB, that’s a potential 12TB of distant backup storage. The standard version of PogoPlug costs $99, and there are no monthly fees. You will, however, have to buy the external USB hard drives that connect to the PogoPlug.
And, if you want to be even more cautious, consider buying two PogoPlus and sets of hard drives, and rotating the backups between them every other day.