Desktop Backup made Easy

How many times have you had to tell teachers that is is the own tough luck that they haven’t backed up their My Documents on the Schools Laptops for Teachers Laptop.  Sure the machine has a CD-Writer and can take a USB stick, but let face it, remembering to copy files or burn a CD is the last thing a member of staff will think of.  However for an annual subscription of about £30, they could get automated online backups.

Backing up Teachers Laptops should be a simple affair, but all to often, running out of time or battery power will usually result in the Important planning, Assessment and other documents all being lost.

All it takes is for a hard disk to fail or perhaps the laptop being stolen, and then all of that hard work will have been for nothing.  Even those members of staff who do backup regularly probably don’t verify the backup, or misplace the backed up files.

This is where having a reliable on-line backup solution comes in handy.  There are loads of backup products for download on the internet, but many of them come at a price premium.  For example Attix 5 workstation will cost somewhere in the region of £100 per year, then of course you have to add on the data space that you might need.  It seems that all of these back solutions all charge extra for storage space.

Fortunately whilst I was browsing the web one day, I came across an on-line backup product that has no limits of the amount of data that you can backup, plus the service is offered at a fixed annual subscription rate.  Brilliant I thought, so I tried the 15 day trial.

Once I signed up for the trial, I installed the desktop application and watched as gigabytes of data were encrypted and transferred over an SSL connection to the backup servers.  As each file was backed up, a small dot in the corner of the file icon changed from yellow to green – indicating that the file had been backed up.

This is easy I thought, so easy in fact – that I didn’t need to do anything except sit and watch.  The upload speed was very quick, although it did take more than a week for all of my selected files to get backed up.  This was all down to the upload speed of my ADSL connection.

Once all of my files were safely backed up, I was able to delete and then immediately restore the files that I had deleted.  The integrated explorer application also allows restoration of old versions of files – very handy.  Of course the only thing it couldn’t do is to restore files that hadn’t been backed up yet.

Backups generally don’t take any time at all, the application uses block level techniques that essentially mean that if you only change part of a file, only this change is uploaded rather than the whole file.  The system is scanned every 10 minutes and uploads any changes it finds.

There are some limitations of this particular backup application, it will only backs up what has been pre-defined, i.e.  Word Documents, Excel Spreadsheets.  The backup application will not backup program files, according to the website, if you need to repair a machine, you will have the application files to re-install anyway.  To be honest, I would only be interested in restoring my data files anyway.

I have been using the backup application since July 2007 and have to say that I am very pleased.  I don’t need to worry about backing up my whole machine to external hard drive or having to burn things to DVD.  There has only been a single instance where I deleted a folder by accident, I was able to retrieve the folder virtually instantly without having to go through any complicated procedure – just drag and drop it from the backup service.

So what is this on-line backup service?  The Service is called Carbonite use the link below to download a free 15-day trial subscription to Carbonite, and get an extra free month of service when you subscribe:

http://www.carbonite.com/

The service is compatible with Windows and Mac.

The only downside that I can see, is that the service is based in the USA.  So you might have some issues with confidential materials being stored overseas.  The company do operate a privacy policy, however that does depend upon how much you trust the US authorities especially as the Safe Harbour agreement has been withdrawn.

Posted in Backup.