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Back up your data - Online Backup Services
Online Backup Services

With the increase in broadband speeds, online storage is becoming a more attractive method of backing up data. Online backup services provide users with storage space that can be accessed over the internet. Some internet providers give their users free online storage. For example, Virgin Media offer 5GB of storage to their subscribers.


The real advantage of an online backup solution is that it protects home users from worse-case scenarios such as fire, flood, hurricanes, and even theft which render onsite backups redundant. In many ways this is a secure backup solution. However, it is worth highlighting some of the drawbacks of this backup strategy. Firstly, ADSL and ADSL2+ have slower upload speeds than download speeds. Even with 24Mbit/s download (the current maximum based on ADSL2+ technology), uploads are at best restricted to 2.5Mbit/s. In the UK, fibre optic cable with 50Mbit/s download speeds are available in some areas, although this is only complimented by a 1.5MBit/s upload speed. Users who generate or modify large amounts of data may find that current upload speeds can be problematical. Another downside is that users are trusting their data to another organisation, relying on them to also back up the data and to make sure that it is kept secure. This risk can be mitigated by encrypting sensitive data. Further, if your internet connection has monthly limits, you may find that you breach your provider's fair use policy, which may entail extra cost or disruption to your connection. Finally, there is a risk that the remote backup service provide may become insolvent.

There are many service providers that offer a Linux compatible online backup system. Most providers offer a basic account with some free space, although this is often quite limited. For example Dropbox is a cloud-based storage application and service which provides a free basic account with 2GB of space. If you need more storage capacity, they currently charge $9.99 per month for 50GB of space, and $19.99 for 100GB. Ubuntu One also offer the same amount of free space, and charge $10 per month for 50GB of space.

Dropbox has its own client which requires GTK 2.12 or higher, GLib 2.14 or higher, Nautilus 2.16 or higher, and Libnotify 0.4.4 or higher. Nautilus Dropbox is an extension that integrates the Dropbox web service with your GNOME Desktop. You also need to install a proprietary daemon and create a dropbox account.

The software creates a special folder on your computer which is named Dropbox. To back up files, you drop them into that directory using Nautilus and they are then immediately available to access on any of your computers, and over the internet. Anything put in the folder is synchronised with other computers which have Dropbox installed. It is also possible to upload files manually using a web browser.

Dropbox supports revision history, which lets you recover deleted files, and uses Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) transfers, and AES-256 encryption for security.

If you need more free space, ADrive offer 50GB online storage, whereas Crashplan generously give unlimited free online backup for personal use. Other notable Linux online services which we recommend are Wuala, SpiderOak, ZumoDrive, and Mandriva Click'n Backup.


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Jump ahead:

1. Introduction - Optical Discs
2. External Hard Disks
3. Network Storage
4. Online Backup Services (current page)
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6. Solid State Storage

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Last Updated Sunday, December 13 2009 @ 09:41 AM EST


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