Revamping my data protection plan


Revamping might not be the right word, since I don’t have a written plan, but I’m at least re-evaluating what I do to protect my data.

In the last week, I’ve been more seriously considering “cloud-based” data storage; that is, storing data on someone else’s server out there on the “internets”. The advantage of this is that if my computer is stolen, house burns down, or a tornado hits (there have been 2 near misses over the last few years), data in the cloud would be preserved. Thus, it can be effective off-site storage solution.

The other off-site storage solution I already use: put your data on some media and physically store the media off site. This is a great solution, but if something goes wrong, it might take a while to access the media to recover the data. “Cloud” storage, on the other hand, offers potentially instantaneous access to your data.

A problem with cloud storage (aside from cost considerations) is that you are dependent on the hosting company to maintain security and solvency (i.e. you don’t want them to go under). Another problem is you are limited by bandwidth, either your own connections or the bandwidth allowed by the hosting company. This limits the practicality of “cloud” storage for some solutions. For a small set of documents, such limitations are minor. For many gigabytes of storage, this becomes a problem.

An attractive service is Amazon’s S3. It’s reasonably priced but the costs are not consistent from month to month. If I put 4 Gb of data on the site for a year, and never access it after that, it would cost a minimum of $7.60 per month (or about $91 per year). Mozy, on the other hand, is cheaper and unlimited at the pro level, costing about$60 per year. However, it is more of a traditional backup solution approach rather than just file storage (I say this without testing, however).

I’m planning to try Mozy for their free membership, but it will have to used as a backup solution for a limited amount of my data. My climate model results will have to remain a physical media offsite storage plan since the cloud is out of reach at the moment.

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