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Many of us fail to do backups at all or fail to backup everything that's important to us (eg we may backup our accounting software but not our documents or our photos).

Some of us do backups but then fail to remove the backups from the same location as the computer so if there's a fire then the backup gets destroyed along with the computer itself.

Some of us backup and then store our backups in a "fire-proof" safe in the office. If you have a severe fire then all contents of the "fire-proof" safe will still be destroyed as a "fire-proof" safe is only "fire-proof" for small/short fires only. The documents may not burst into flames but they will be blackened and your flash drive or removable hard disk drive may melt.

One easy and automatic solution to this is to backup automatically using an on-line backup service. Beware if you have Telstra as your ISP as Telstra charges for internet UPLOADS as well as internet DOWNLOADS. As far a I know they are the only ISP that does - for all other ISPs then uploading vast amounts of your data to a remote storage facility is a "free" service but for Telstra customers you may get hit with excess usage charges. This would be a good reason to change from Telstra (Big Pond) to Internode or IINet or TPG.

I have been using the Carbonite (www.Carbonite.com) on-line backup service for some time now. Once you have paid your fee (around US$60 pa) and installed it onto your PC you just go into Windows Explorer, right click on the files or folders that you want to backup and click on Carbonite and then BACKUP THIS UP. From now on Carbonite will encrypt this file or folder and send it up onto it's secure website for you. Every time a file or folder is changed the changes will be backed up for you automatically.

The first time I used this system it took 3 or 4 days to backup 15Gb of my data but once it has backed up the initial data then it only backs up changes and so it seems to keep up to date quite easily. If you accidentally delete a file then that file remains in your Carbonite backup for 30 days before it's automatically deleted by Carbonite and so you can restore these files if you need to. Best of all you don't even notice it working!

Now you do have to make sure that if you create a new folder on your hard disk and store information in it that you tell Carbonite that you want to also backup this folder otherwise it won't be backed up. However, if you are already backing up the C:\Documents folder and you create a C:\Documents\Letters folder and add some letters to the letters folder then they WILL be backed up as they are in a sub-folder of the C:\Documents folder. If you created a new folder C:\Letters though then you would have to TELL Carbonite that you want to ALSO backup that folder.

Unlike some other computer back up solutions, Carbonite offers unlimited storage. You can back up as much as you want with no limits on storage capacity. They also keep it simple, so every time you save or change a file on your computer Carbonite backs it up automatically.

By default, Carbonite backs up everything in your Documents and Settings folder (or Users Folder in Windows Vista and Windows-7), including documents, photos, email and it MAY also include data files from applications, such as Quicken, Money, etc. The default backup does not include programs, system files, temporary files, videos, or individual files greater than 4GB. You can, however, manually add these to your Carbonite backup with the exception of system files located in C:\\Windows and temporary files located in Temp folders.

Basically you pay your subscription, download and install the Carbonite software, tell Carbonite what you want to backup Then sit back and relax while it happens automatically. You can continue to work while the backup happens in the background.

You can restore your data (eg an accidentally deleted file) by clicking on the Carbonite Icon on your computer and browsing for the file that you need to restore or by logging into the Carbonite Web site from ANY computer using your Carbonite username and password

Recovering your data after a Disaster

If your hard disk crashes or your computer gets stolen or destroyed by fire or other means then you just

  1. Log onto the Carbonite website from your new computer
  2. Download and install their software again
  3. Tell Carbonite that you want to restore ALL of your data.
  4. Wait a long time for it all to be downloaded for you. Because your internet download speed is usually many times your upload speed it will take a lot less time to restore the backup than it initially took to make the backup but it will still take a long time.

You can read more about Carbonite on-line backup here