What is online backup and how does it work?

Introduction
In this article, we are going to examine online backup. It has become a buzz phrase in recent years, as many individuals and businesses now use it as a matter of course, but there is still some confusion surrounding the terminology associated with it. In particular, we will explore exactly how it works, define all related terms, and also discuss the relevant benefits and any security issues. By the time you have finished reading, you will be well informed as to all aspects of online backup and how it can benefit your computer, either at home or at your place of business.

What Do the Terms, ‘Cloud Storage’ and ‘Online Backup’ Mean?
In this article, when we are discussing ‘cloud storage’ and ‘online backup’, we are to all intents and purposes talking about the same thing. Basically, both terms refer to the process of sending your files and information to another computer over the Internet. This stores a secure copy of your files on a hard drive at a data center. Should your own computer ever be stolen, damaged, or lose its data in any way, you can download your files from a secure remote location and restore the missing information.Cloud storage, in one form or another, has been around for decades. However, with the advent of Web 2.0 in recent years, as well as faster Internet speeds and greater bandwidth for homes and businesses, ‘the cloud’ has really come into its own as a way of storing information remotely. Here, the term ‘cloud’ really means the Internet. When you are sending information to the cloud, you are sending it over the Internet to another computer or hard drive, belonging to a company that specialises in online backup. They then store the information for you, ready to download whenever you need it.

By and large, it really is as simple as that. As we shall see, however, there is a lot going on in the background that makes things happen very quickly and securely. Your online backup provider manages all of these processes, without you having to do anything.

Online backup packages come in all shapes and sizes. There are many free packages that allow you to upload a small number of files, from between 1GB and 10GB, and also paid packages that start at about $4-5 per month, and allow you to upload over 100GB or even an unlimited amount of data, including no limits on uploads or downloads.

How to Back Up Your Computer Online
There are usually two ways in which your computer interfaces with your chosen online backup provider – either through a web-based interface, or through special software. If you are using a web-based interface then you normally work through an Internet browser. If you are using special software, this will be provided by the online backup service. It is usually downloaded from their website, and installed in the same way as normal software.

In both cases, you will have a username and password, as this is an important step in distinguishing your files from those of others. It also keeps your files secures, ensuring that users can only download their own files.

When backing up your computer, whichever interface you use, you will have the opportunity to select which folders are backed up. You may only wish to back up your main documents folder (with its subfolders), or you may wish to back up an entire drive or more. Note that when making a new backup, it may take some time, as all of the files will need to be uploaded into the cloud over your Internet connection. The more files you have, the longer it will take. For those with a lot of files that require uploading, a few days or more is not atypical.

Automatic Backups
Many online backup services provide automatic backups, but this is not always the case, so you will need to check with your particular provider. Automatic backups involve the software noting any changes in files that have been used, and uploading and backing up new versions as and when necessary. For example, if you have a document backed up in the cloud, and you alter that document on your computer, an automatic backup service will upload the new version to the cloud and replace the old version that was stored there, keeping your online data up to date.

Is Online Backup Secure?
Yes, online backups are very secure, often using 128-bit or more encryption, which is the same high level of security that banks use for their financial data. To an online backup service provider, the safety and security of your information is vital. If your files and data can be accessed by the wrong people or intercepted on the Internet, then their service is of no value to you.

Whether you access your online backup via a web-based interface or via special software, your information, files and data will be encrypted and transferred using security protocols such as TSL (Transport Security Layers) and SSL (Security Socket Layers). These are security protocols that have been designed specifically for the safe transmitting of personal information.

The Benefits of Online Backup
The main benefit of a cloud computing based online storage service is that there is no need for you to buy and install your own hard drives for information backup at home or at work. Such hard drives are susceptible to the same level of theft or damage as your computer, and so are not as secure a means of backup and retrieval as secure cloud-based online storage systems. If you have a lot of information to back up, then online backup can also work out to be a cheaper way of storing your files than traditional, hard-drive based methods.

Using an online backup service, particularly one that provides continual automatic backup, is also an ideal way for many people to work on the same file from different locations. Such services make doing business far easier than in the past.

Conclusion
Online backup is an Internet-based method of creating a secure, remote copy of your important files and data, whether you only have a few files to back up or whether your needs run into many gigabytes. Online backup through cloud computing provides a convenient way of storing your information off-site and often syncing information between computers, while allowing you access to your valuable data, should you need it.

 

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