How to back up your system

More and more precious data builds up in your computer. Loosing images from the last five years of vacations is a pity. So you want to keep a backup.

I keep two. For my most valuable stuff. One local backup and one off site. Actually it’s off continent. I live in Norway and my external backup is in the US.

Both of the backups are completely automated. Here’s how I do it.

I keep all my images in one folder with several subfolders on our family server. This computer have several hard drives and because I have experienced complete hard drive failures I know how fast you can loose gigabytes of data.

So my first line of defence is to keep an updated mirror of my image folder on another drive. If the main drive drops dead I can restore everything from the second drive. Yes, this cost me twice the hard drive space. Currently I have 120 GIG of images, so I need at least 120 GIG extra space on the second drive. Still pretty cheap insurance if you like your image collection.

To automate the process I use a free software called SyncBack Freeware. I have put up one single profile in SyncBack that simply backup the folder called “Images” from drive 1 to a folder called “Images” on drive 2. This backup is run every hour.

For the off site backup I use a service called Carbonite. It is very user friendly, encrypt your data and is priced very reasonable. Currently it’s $5 a month for unlimited amount of space. 2 GIG upload a day, and about 15 GIG download a day when you need to restore your data.

Carbonite is a software that you install on your computer that gives you a couple of possibilities, from “Back up the My Documents folder“, “Back up all images on my computer” to the more full control option where you simply right click and choose “Back this up” on the files, folders and drives that you want to back up.

I know there’s a lot of possibilities out there so you’re welcome to add your solutions in the comments.

Both Carbonite and SyncBack are Windows only. Paul Stamatiou uses Amazon S3 and jungle disk for the off site backup. That one is Windows, Linux and Mac. I’ll have to ask my friend Oyvind to give you a complete and similar solution for Macintosh. I guess he’ll comment or trackback here when he’s done with his article on how to back up your mac…

Have a look in the comments here. Seems like Carbonite isn’t that unlimited after all: Carbonite – when unlimited is limited

How to back up your system

15 thoughts on “How to back up your system

  1. Tom says:

    Hi, you can also try IBackup for Windows, which provides an equally good online solution for backing up or restoring your files and folders.

    You can backup any type of files, including open files. The application does incremental and compressed backups of critical data. IBackup allows you to see the data history of the previous 10 days (Snapshots) and restore older versions of files. It also supports one-way `Sync’ from your computer to your IBackup account. Backup your MS SQL Server and MS Exchange Server databases without the running stopping database services.

    With Web-Manager you can create folders, upload, webload files, rename, delete and share files or folders with others for collaborative access. The `Private Share’ feature in Web-Manager allows an IBackup user to instantly share data with another IBackup user. You can also create sharable links and email them to friends and partners. With Web-Manager you can manage all your media and image files.

    You can also use the IDrive application, which when downloaded and installed will map an IBackup account as a network drive on your computer. Users can map, drag and drop files to their IBackup account from the Windows explorer. It also allows users to open and save files stored in their IBackup online backup/ storage accounts directly from their associated applications like Microsoft Office.

  2. Looks very nice. And the possibility to share and organize files on the web is very interesting. However, the price is out of my range, for the solution with sharing and the extra functionallity it will set you back $400 a month. That’s slightly more than the $5 a month I pay for unlimited storage at Carbonite.

  3. I am trying to find a solution to find a backup program, preferably runing on Linux, that can use webdav or ftp. This will make it possible to use for instance Dreamhost as the offline backup storage. It must off course be able to do incremental backups after the first huge backup job.

    Does anyone have sugestions for tools?

  4. Eirik,

    I use Carbonite to backup my photos (I’m a free beta tester) because photos only need to be backed up one-time, and they do a fine job of that. But, when you need to backup constantly-changing files (i.e. Outlook, databases, Word docs, etc.), they have to re-backup the ENTIRE file (Outlook files get to be multiple GBs over time). So, I needed a backup that does incremental backups, not full backups.

    I tried a few online backups, but the hands down winner for those advanced features such as incremental backups is With Mozy, I backup my full files one-time, then when the file changes, Mozy backs up the changed portion only, saving time and bandwidth. The upload and download rate are about the same as Carbonite, but you can “throttle” Mozy back to a specific rate if you don’t want it using all your bandwidth, yet still be running (it also has an option to automatically back off using system resources if you are using your computer). Mozy is free for 2GB and you get 256MB more for every person you refer. 30GB is only $4.45/mo.

    So, I am running both Carbonite and Mozy, with no conflicts between the two. Oh, I do need to point out one thing, though. Carbonite is NOT unlimited backup. I’ve run into several cases in the blogosphere where Carbonite terminated services for people who used “excess” “unlimited” space. This blogger wrote verbosely on the subject:


  5. It’s interesting to see what this topic brings. Cheap reliable backup are a must when having digital images!

    I have been doing some research of offline backup solutions. My needs are for a Linux tool, but I see that theres lots of interesting Windows based solutions. Theres more in my blog.

  6. Great article, Eirik. I’m already using SyncBack nightly between computers at home, and I also use it to back up to an external disk one every three months or so. Carbonite for lousy $5 a month surely beats an external disk though, so I’m signing up.

    One question. I need to help my parent’s with this backup thing as well. They have the gigs of photos, but not the knowledge to backup. Do you know a program that will very intuitively let you back up several gigs of files to a set of DVD’s?

    By the way. I had to shunnel to my home computer in order to submit this comment. I guess the Telenor firewall/proxy does not “conform to the HTTP specification”…

  7. Hi, i recently tried: MEMOPAL, both for back up on real time and ftp and file sharing. For now i have free 250gb for trhee months. It is faster than MOZY and CARBONITE.

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