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In the past, we stored our documents, photos, financial records, and other important items in various ways:
For some items, these methods and others are still necessary and important. But more and more of our important information exists in files on our personal computers or other electronic devices, like smart phones and tablets. What happens to the family photos, the music collection, or even a small company's payroll records when the hard drive in the computer fails, or is otherwise damaged? All those things could be lost forever if they cannot be restored from some backup location.
Computer files can be backed up to optical disks (CDs or DVDs), external hard drives, or flash memory devices. Photos can be printed and kept in albums, and important papers can be printed and kept in a file cabinet. These methods all have their own advantages and sometimes disadvantages, not the least of which is the time it takes to perform the task manually. Plus, a file cabinet, external hard drive, or bookshelf that is in the same location as the computer is susceptible to the same fire or other environmental damage that threatens the computer.
A logical, practical solution is to store computer files in another location. Large companies have done this for many years. Now, many companies offer this same service to individuals, families, and small companies for reasonable and realistic prices. Commonly called online computer backup, this service is similar to insurance, in that it helps insure that customers' files can be restored from a remote location if something happens to the customer's local copies. This has also recently been referred to as cloud backup.
An online computer backup system is nothing more than a software program that runs at a scheduled time, compresses and encrypts selected folders and files, and transfers those files and folders to the service-provider's remote servers.
Vendors offer a variety of plans at many cost levels, depending on a customer's needs. Customers usually pay by subscription, an amount based on needed space.
It is important to understand the difference between online backup and online storage. Online backup runs as an automated process (after initial installation and setup), either at specific time intervals or on specific days or times. Online storage, on the other hand, requires manual, deliberate actions by the user. Service providers might offer both online backup and online storage.
When considering an online backup solution, it is important to shop for a service based on specific needs. A menu of services and price that is best for one individual, family, or company might not be the best solution for another.
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