Online Dat Storage
January 21, 2005 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Does anyone have experience with online data storage services -- i.e. backing up important files such as pictures, transaction records, music, etc. on remote storage accessible via the Web? Is there true value in this? Who are the best providers? What should I be paying?
posted by terrier319 to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
If transaction records are banking records, do you really want to keep this kind of personal data on the network? And potentially on a web service that you know little about, that could disappear tomorrow with your data? From a privacy standpoint, this is a bad idea.

From an access standpoint, unless you're using something like a WebDAV client (like .mac's iDisk) uploading and downloading more than a couple files at a time gets old fast.

Not snarking, just letting you know about a couple issues with web storage.
posted by AlexReynolds at 12:02 PM on January 21, 2005

If this is corporate data you'd be better off getting a tape drive. If you do go with 3rd party provider make sure to read the SLA carefully and verify that they'll wipe their hard drives in the event they go bankrupt. Otherwise who knows who'll end up with your data?
posted by cmonkey at 12:21 PM on January 21, 2005

Response by poster: Makes sense about storing on a network. What is a good backup plan in case the installed drive crashes? ... single backup? double? ... this is mostly music and pictures. Thx.
posted by terrier319 at 12:52 PM on January 21, 2005

I would recommend an external hard drive in one of those USB enclosures. Hook it up, copy files over, disconnect. Do that however often you want. Keeping the drive separate from the machine should keep it from getting fried in the unlikely event of a power surge. Tape drives are probably much more expensive and not really necessary for personal use only.

Sorry I don't know about the original question, but if someone has a good web backup provider, I'd like to hear it. I am sure there are ways to have the data encrypted on the way to the destination so the provider has no access to what he's storing for you, so privacy isn't really a big concern...
posted by knave at 1:24 PM on January 21, 2005

I'd encrypt anything sensitive being stored off-site, but that's easy enough to do.

Just remember to make sure that the encryption key can be recovered in any circumstance in which you might need the data itself. This means multiple offsite backups of the key. The advantage is you can store the key once and very rarely retrieve the offsite copies, even if you store and retrieve the offsite data every week. (Also, the key is small even if your data is big.)
posted by hattifattener at 1:47 PM on January 21, 2005

Streamload offers 10GB free storage but with only 100MB montly download it seems like an impractical backup solution. If you're concerned about retention of files, I would try the already reccommended USB drive solution or consider a smarter solution like a Mirra Personal Server.
posted by Loser at 2:07 PM on January 21, 2005

Instead of opting for online data storage services, I recently just bought this to store movies & music and am loving it.
posted by dhoyt at 2:29 PM on January 21, 2005

Well, there's backup if your hard drive crashes, and then there's backup if your house burns down, in which case an external hard drive might not help much. I'm in the process of sending family photos to my gmail account. (MyQuicken files will just have to fry. They're not going to the web.)
posted by sageleaf at 2:54 PM on January 21, 2005

Response by poster: Sorry, what is gmail? Is that Web-based? Thanks.
posted by terrier319 at 3:07 PM on January 21, 2005

Google's email, yes, web-based. To get an invitation, check here
posted by sageleaf at 3:24 PM on January 21, 2005

A thing to think about when using a removable hard drive for backups is that both the medium and the reading mechanism are enclosed in the same package (in this case, sealed package). If the firmware or circuits get damaged or the head crashes into the platters, you're SOL (without spending $100s/MB for data recovery).

For serious backups (ie, the cost of losing the data outweighs the setup, maintenance, & media costs), I'd suggest removable media and an extra reader/writer in storage. For music and photos, a recordable DVD should work.

This may be overkill, though. :)
posted by MikeKD at 6:05 PM on January 21, 2005

If you're using Linux, you can use GMailFS to 'mount' your gmail account as a directory on your file system, and just copy stuff over...
posted by benzo8 at 2:03 AM on January 22, 2005

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