Online backups for Home PCs work, sort of.

So I’ve now tried three different online back up solutions for my home data. They’ve all worked but all have had the same flaw, they can’t deal with external drives. Backup for the PCs internal drive structure has always worked, which is okay if you’re my mum, but realistically it’s not an option if you’ve got a digital camera you actually use and more than 2 compact discs.

As we collect more data and the files increase in size it makes sense to move to external storage. In fact external drives are a necessity if, like me, you run a load of old laptops with minimal storage space.

So why is it so difficult to back up external storage?

We can start by looking at it from the business perceptive. If you’re running this kind of service the money is made by backing up internal drives on computers that get used on a fairly regular basis. Some music, a few documents and maybe a college research project, all of it likely to be of a size that won’t exceed the average laptop. It’s a fairly simple process and the storage back at the data centre is going to be cheaper than your monthly charge. In short, you’re going to make money. That is unless users start plugging in unknown amounts of data to back up, from those terabyte beasts they sell on Amazon. Hours of video, music and photographs that are going to weigh down the network and simply decimate the back end storage. From a business perspective I’d certainly steer clear.

Then there’s the technical aspect. External drives can be shared around different computers, so when the process starts to backup they might not be available, what then? Also we know that the mounting procedure can differ from session to session which just adds to the complexity. Technically I still think it’s quite difficult for a back up process to figure out what needs to be backed up from what is available at the current time.

To finish, I’m not blaming Backblaze, Mozyhome or Carbonite, they’re just not really that useful if you’ve got loads of data. Which is slightly ironic because the only people who need this kind of service have loads of data. Happy days.

For the time being I’ll just use Dropbox.