You may have data on your computer that is valuable to you: photos, home movies, the novel you’ve been writing, your accounts for the past few years.
I’m sure you back it up, since it’s important to you. But where do you keep that backup? Next to the computer? In another room? At a neighbour’s house nearby?
One problem with this local storage approach is that if some localised disaster strikes, such as a flood, fire or earthquake, not only do you have to deal with damage to your property, but you may also lose all that computer data you value.
Amazon S3 online backup is low-cost
A good solution is to store backups online, in a trusted place. Of course, this is only viable if you use broadband.
There are many services that offer online storage; the one I use is Amazon S3 — brought to you by the famous Amazon store. My most recent invoice for one month was for a whole NZ$1.03. That’s around $15 to $20 per year, given that I’m adding to the online storage regularly. That’s very affordable, even for those in straitened circumstances.
This month I added 3Gb out of my 25Gb of photos, so I expect an additional US$0.75 on my bill.
Software to work with Amazon S3
I upload my files using my FTP software, Interarchy, but for those who don’t even know what FTP means there’s an easy way to use the service. People I trust speak highly of software called JungleDisk, for Mac, Windows and Linux.
There are screenshots and slideshows that show you what the software looks like and how to use it.
Using JungleDisk you can create a backup regime, or you can just use S3 as though it’s another drive attached to your computer — drag and drop files in the same way you would with a thumb drive or similar.
Your files are secure at Amazon S3. When you sign up you are given two ‘keys’ similar to this fictitious example:
9Uf/f9cuTy6rf8DWSKyLdp6YGTrC2HDvQWTV9LSr. You need to keep them secret, as they allow you and no-one else to access your data.
Any backup is better than no backup
All kinds of things can cause your treasured files to go astray, and sooner or later they will go astray. Online backup offers an extra level of security, by storing your files geographically distant from you.
If you don’t want to consider such a service at least buy a thumb drive, or some CDs or DVDs, or an external hard drive and make sure you copy your most important files — the ones the insurance couldn’t buy again for you, such as photos. Then keep that device in a safe place and update it regularly.
Keep in mind though: the more effort it takes to make a backup the less likely you are to do it. Online backups can be quick and simple. Amazon S3 with JungleDisk is low cost and very easy. For other options try a Google search.
Written by Miraz Jordan for, and reproduced from CommunityNet Aotearoa Panui, April 2009. This article has been modified for publication here.