Backing Up Your Online LifeBy Josh Catone
Making regular backups of the data on your computer is a smart thing to do, though it can be tedious. Burning CDs or DVDs, or moving files to an external hard drive once a week (or however often you plan to back up your data) is a time consuming process. That’s why many people seek automated backup solutions, whether local or online.
Recently, I’ve actually been in the market for an online backup solution that will automatically backup new files on my computer as they’re created and capture new versions of older files as they’re changed. One thing I neglected to think about backing up, though, was the bits and pieces of my online life.
As we spend more and more time on social networking and media sharing web sites, the bits and pieces that make up our identity are becoming increasingly scattered about. Backing up that data is an even more arduous task than manually managing backups of local data on your hard drive. A lot of services offer ways to get your data out, but they don’t always make it easy, and dealing with multiple APIs and different data streams to get access to your data, and then to back it up is beyond the technical expertise of many users.
The Lifestream Blog recently pointed to a new service called LifeStreamBackup that will hopefully make the process of backing up your digital life easier when it launches in a couple of weeks. Initially, the site will only offer backup services for Flickr and your blog (via RSS), but plans to add support for Google Docs, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube shortly after launch.
The service will act as a conduit for your data to travel between your stable of web services and Amazon’s S3, where the backups will be stored. The pricing will start at $6.95/month for 10GB or $3.95/month to hook into your own S3 account (which might save you money if you need less space).
We anticipate that services for backing up your online life will be a hot area over the next year, and we anticipate that utilities to create backups of web service data will be built into existing desktop-to-web backup services. As more people start pushing data into the cloud — via software as a service apps like Google Docs and social sites like Twitter — keeping backups of that data will be more important to people.
Right or wrong, putting data online feels less permanent than keeping data on your hard drive locally. When you put data into an online service you have not only to worry about data loss due to physical problems like hard disk failure, but also due to services potentially going out of business or shutting down. Even Google has been closing services recently, so backing that data up to hedge against future service closure or changes makes a lot of sense.
What would be really great is if web data backup services like LifeStreamBackup could also sanitize all that data and then offer it back up for download to users who want access to it for the purpose of easily backing it up locally. Otherwise, all these services will really be doing is allowing you an easy way to move your data from one cloud to another, but still not making it any more accessible in terms of pulling it back down to your local machine.