Benjamin Franklin once wrote that nothing is certain except death and taxes. If he were alive today, he would probably add hard drive failure to his list. It is 100% certain that every hard drive will fail. The only way to protect yourself from hard drive failure is to backup your data. One of the most common ways to backup data is to store it on a compact disc (CD). But is the CD your best backup option? Below are some backup methods and their advantages and disadvantages.
Pros-They are cheap and easy to use. CDs can also be used in almost any computer so that if your computer is lost, damaged, or destroyed, you can easily recover your data on another computer. CD backups also allow you to retain control of your data.
Cons-CDs degrade quickly and unpredictably. They are easily damaged by handling and are vulnerable to fires, floods, and other natural disasters. Unless you store CDs off-site, they can be damaged by whatever damages your computer. CDs can also be stolen or lost and have very limited storage capabilities by today’s standards (800 MB).
External Hard Drive (EHD)
Pros-The EHD is much more durable than a CD and doesn’t degrade as easily. The storage capacity is very large, with some drives at 1000 GB. Backup is simple because you can easily drag and drop files from your computer to your EHD. Like the CD, you also retain control of your data.
Cons-Currently, EHDs are much more expensive than CDs. Furthermore, like internal hard drives, EHDs will fail one day. EHDs aren’t as fragile as CDs, but they, too, are susceptible to damage, loss, and theft.
Pros-Remote servers can store tremendous amounts of data. They are also much more durable than CDs and EHDs. If the server is off-site, it is much less vulnerable to fire, natural disaster, theft, or loss than a CD.
Cons-Remote servers are extremely expensive compared to CDs and most other backup options. They must also be maintained and serviced. Retrieving data from a remote server may take some time, particularly if the computer that you use to access the remote server is damaged.
Pros-Online backup is relatively cheap at around $5 a month. For this price, you usually get unlimited data storage. Unlike CD backups, online data backups can be scheduled to occur automatically. Data is also secure from any damage, theft, or loss, since it is stored in a remote location.
Cons-Data from an online service may not be easily accessible from any computer except the device that was backed up, which presents problems if your computer is lost, damaged, or destroyed. Although files are encrypted, you are entrusting security of your data to someone else. If the online backup service goes out of business, which has happened in the past, you will probably lose access to your backed up material, and you won’t know who controls your data.