Backing up my electronic files
December 15, 2019 8:58 AM   Subscribe

I have been using Crashplan to backup my computer, but it's getting too expensive and I'm wondering if there's a better solution. If I use cloud services like Google Drive, do I even need a backup service?

Out of an abundance of caution, and pre-cloud approach, for years, I used Crashplan to backup my computer. It was set it and forget it, and had a relatively inexpensive annual cost. In addition, I would occasionally backup files to an external hard drive. A couple of years ago, Crashplan changed it's model and the cheap residential backup disappeared and was replaced with their small business/commercial backup. They grandfathered in users at the old price for a year or so, and now the price hike has finally hit me, and it's way too expensive. I also don't actively use my personal computer as much as I used to, because I'm on my work computer a lot, and storing many things on Google Drive.

*But* my personal computer contains valuable archived files such as tax returns, official documents, etc. and I don't really know if these are safe to store in Google drive or other cloud services.

Here's my question(s):
- how does everyone else handle the need for storing important confidential files and having a backup?
- are cloud services safe enough to store things like tax returns? I had an account who used Google Drive, but I was never quite sure if that was a good idea/secure enough.
posted by Ensign to Computers & Internet (13 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I use BackBlaze. Generally (IMHO), the major cloud services are more secure than your computer itself.
posted by aramaic at 9:09 AM on December 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Sorry, just noticed a typo: that was supposed to be "I had an accountant who used Google Drive".
posted by Ensign at 9:18 AM on December 15, 2019

Seconding Backblaze. I switched from CrashPlan to Backblaze as soon as CrashPlan made their announcement and the only thing I've noticed is Backblaze uses 50 times less RAM than CrashPlan (no exaggeration, and Google says I'm not the only one who has experienced this).

Security is a difficult topic, and I'm probably not enough of an expert to really speak to it. I have to agree with aramaic that Google and Backblaze are unlikely to be the people who leak my personal details. It's more likely that my home computer will be haked, or HR at your work will expose it (being hacked, or just emailing sensitive data in plain text), or one of the scummy credit agencies will simply sell your data if someone is willing to pay. Better to proactively pay for credit monitoring because a determined attacker can probably get all the important info that your tax returns contain through other means.
posted by Tehhund at 9:35 AM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

No matter what backup. method(s) you use, for safety count the number of methods then subtract 1. It's best if the result is 2 or more.
posted by Homer42 at 9:40 AM on December 15, 2019 [3 favorites]

When I started using Backblaze, I was informed that the backups were in an encrypted format and I had to create a passphrase (that only I knew), that would be used to encrypt my private key. So theoretically at least even the Backblaze company isn't able to view my backed-up files.
posted by Greg_Ace at 9:46 AM on December 15, 2019

If you are worried about security then you could always encrypt the files before uploading, but the whole world is storing their critical information on the cloud. That doesn't mean it's risk free, but keeping your data safe is part of their reason for existing in the first place.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:56 AM on December 15, 2019

If you are worried about security then you could always encrypt the files before uploading

Should, not could.
posted by Stoneshop at 10:14 AM on December 15, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another vote for Backblaze. I don't notice that it is there but it will be if i need it.
posted by TheRaven at 12:17 PM on December 15, 2019

I'll put in a word for SpiderOak. I've been their customer quite a long time, and no complaints!
posted by humbug at 1:02 PM on December 15, 2019

A vote for Dropbox here, for all the usual reasons — security, convenience, etc. I’m a belt and suspenders kind of guy when it comes to data, so I use Dropbox, have a few critical things on iCloud too, and copy my Dropbox folder to a USB drive every week or two.
posted by lhauser at 7:27 PM on December 15, 2019

I was recommended Acronis True Image and I like it. The big plus is it backs up my entire drive, on schedule.

If you set up a flash drive with some software from acronis (takes 30 mins), then if your computer is stolen or destroyed or your hard drive is damage, simply buy a new computer/HD, boot on the flash drive, then it will download EVERYTHING from your old machine as it was, including ALL os settings, programs and system settings, as well as data.

To my knowledge, things like backblaze don't do system backups like that, and crashplan stopped after a while.
posted by lalochezia at 11:05 AM on December 16, 2019

Oof, if security and privacy are a consideration stay a LONG way away from Dropbox, unless you're willing to encrypt everything locally pre-upload.

Here's one epic security snafu. Here's another, and here's evidence that Dropbox dawdled on fixing it. Here's an explanation of exactly how Dropbox can rat you out whenever it wants, and here's Dropbox actually doing that.

I wouldn't (and in fact do not) trust Dropbox.
posted by humbug at 5:35 PM on December 16, 2019

Backblaze seems good, if you want a ready-to-go solution. There's another less expensive service they offer: Backblaze B2. It's basically just hosting space that you pay for by the gigabyte, and yo use your own software to put files into your B2 "buckets". If you're up for some DIY with backup software, you can get things going for much cheaper than the Backblaze retail version. I use a program called Arq, which sells for a $50 one-time fee covering Mac & Windows versions for however many computers you own. My B2 bill is about $1.50/month, so after the first year I'm ahead.
posted by NumberSix at 8:22 PM on December 16, 2019 [1 favorite]

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