How Paranoid Should You Be For Backing Up Your Data?

Backup Backup Backup - And Test Restores

Backup Backup Backup – And Test Restores (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you ask me what is the best way to backup your data, I will probably direct your concern to more than one way.  I like to think of not placing all of your eggs in one basket kind of scenario.  What’s the point of backing up data in the first place?  It’s to hope that when things go crazy such as a computer’s data corruption might occur, you can then access your most valuable backup data.  If you only rely on one preferable backup method, then what if in a critical moment that even the backup data isn’t accessible through your preferable only backup method, what will you do then?  Even a perfect storm is a possible scenario for spreading eggs in more than one basket, therefore I think being paranoid about safekeeping your data with more than one preferable backup method is the best way to go about doing the backups for your valuable data.

For us normal folks, the regular Joe(s), who have data that we want to safeguard, it’s a must for us to spread our data in more than one basket.  It must not be that you have to be a company to take this approach.  Furthermore, nowadays regular Joe(s) do have plenty of ways to go about doing backups for their data.  Let me list few of them:

  • Google Drive
  • Pogoplug
  • Dropbox
  • Amazon Simple Storage Service
  • CrashPlan
  • External hard drives
  • Network attach storage solution such as QNAP NAS servers
  • Do it yourself FreeNAS server solution
  • rsync to a renting server with affordable monthly fee

And the list can go on a lot longer as third party cloud services are now in amble supply.  I think the problem isn’t about finding a backup solution or solutions for the regular Joe(s), but it’s about the affordability, speed, security, and conveniency aspects.  Let say, if a regular Joe wants to spread his backup data in more than one basket, how affordable can this be?  So on and so on…

I think affordability should not be as big of an issue as before the time when there were no third party cloud service and competitive (affordable) computer hardware pricing.  If you don’t intend to harbor 100 of Gigabytes worth of data for streaming purpose or whatever extreme configuration, backing up few Gigabytes worth of data should not cost you much at all.  Perhaps, you can do it at no cost too.  One example, I think Google Drive gives you around 10 Gigabytes worth of free data space or a little bit more than this, and just with this service alone you know you don’t have to spend a dime to backup your data as long you are not going over the free space limitation that Google Drive allows.  Don’t like third party cloud services for whatever reasons?  Computer hardware such as external hard drives nowadays are no longer pricing at outrageous prices, therefore it’s easier for regular Joe(s) to go this route for doing their data backups.  How about coupling Linux with a spare, dusty computer to form a local backup storage server at zero cost in term of money, but you have to spend time on putting things together such as installing Linux and deploying Linux’s network attached storage services to have a more complete backup server solution.

I can see that the many third party cloud services as good solutions for doing backups.  How come?  Let say you’re paranoid about the safety of your data to a point that you consider the scenario where local backup data can all be corrupted at the same time for whatever reasons such as a virus/hack attack (or by even a more nefarious scenario), therefore you think third party cloud services are the additional safety reservoirs for your backup data.  If you are this paranoid, I think you’re doing it right.  Although third party cloud services are good measures against local data corruption, there are problems with this whole approach in general.  Let me list a few:

  • Broadband’s upload speed (Internet connection) isn’t fast enough to do a major backup (i.e., backing up huge amount of data in Gigabytes worth)
  • Security issue… how do we know our data can be securely safeguarded and stored on the remote servers?
  • Trust issue… such as how do we know our data privacy and our privacy won’t be breached on the remote servers?

I sneakily snuck in the speed and security concerns about backing up data remotely through third party cloud services, but we should not take the security issue lightly since many people may not want their privately backup data to be made known to the whole world.  Security done right in term of backing up data locally and remotely, this will also address the privacy issue/concern too.  I think employing good network and computer security measures locally will enhance the security protection level for the backup data.  Such measures should be about employing hardware and software firewall, antivirus, and so on.  Don’t forget to update the software and firmware, because through updating these things that you can be assured of weeding out security bugs.  You can never be too sure about the security of your data when you’re backing up your data remotely, therefore you should employing encryption for your backup data before you upload your backup data to the remote servers.  One good encryption measure I know of is TrueCrypt software which can be downloaded and used freely.

I don’t think we should sacrifice our data security for conveniency, because data security is definitely more important than otherwise.  Still, conveniency should be considered in the calculation of our data backup challenge too.  It’s just that we have to make sure we don’t have to sacrifice data security for conveniency.  Let say, you want to backup your data to a third party cloud service, but you don’t like the idea of doing a local encryption for your data first… this means you are sacrificing your data security for conveniency and this is truly bad for you as the owner of the backup data (i.e., privacy concern).

In summary, I think if you’re paranoid enough about the health of your data, then you should devise many backup plans for your data.  You should try to backup your data both locally and remotely, but you should employ encryption for your data when you do backup your data remotely.  Backing up huge amount of data remotely can be very inconvenient at this point in time since so many regular Joe(s) do not have access to fast upload broadband speed.  Let hope this will change soon, and I know things will be moving in this direction since data streaming and data sharing and data backup are in much more demand than ever before.  One example would be Google fiber Internet service.  Google is driving the Internet Service Provider competition forward as Google deploys its Gigabit Internet connection service for many households in various lucky cities and towns.  With Google pushing for more competition in the area of broadband speed, I think the future — having great Internet connection for uploading our backups — is definitely bright.  As time is moving on, the costs of computer backup hardware and backup services can be even more competitive, we can expect the cost of deploying backup measures for our data can only get cheaper and easier.  I like the idea of having a NAS locally, and using one or two third party cloud services for my data backups.

(How paranoid should you be for backing up your data?  In my opinion, the answer should be, the more the merrier.)

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We Need Google Fiber Sort Of Broadband Service Providers In Town To Boost Business Opportunities And Customer Experiences

Backup Backup Backup - And Test Restores

Backup Backup Backup – And Test Restores (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today, broadband upload speed is nowhere near the speed that is desirable for people to backup their digital contents to third party backup service providers or I should say doing backups to the cloud.  I’m using Crashplan backup service provider, and it seems that it took me ages to backup my Windows 8 PC — containing 500 GB worth of data — to Crashplan’s cloud with AT&T U-verse 3 Megabit per second upload speed.  On the sort-of opposite spectrum of doing backups to the cloud is doing backups to a local network’s backup device or devices, and it turns out Crashplan software is doing so much better, like way better, when it backups the 500 GB worth of Windows 8 PC data to a NAS (network attached storage) and external hard drives.  Basically, at the moment, I see that Crashplan shows that it’s 97.2% done with a backup for Windows 8 PC to a NAS, 54.1% done with a backup for Windows 8 PC to an external hard drive, and 10.2% done with a backup for Windows 8 PC to Crashplan’s cloud.  So, I think you get the gist why doing backups to the cloud is super tedious and slow.  It really does take ages.

If one day Google Fiber ever comes to my town, I will definitely see doing backups to the cloud as a positive thing.  For now though, 3 Megabit per second upload speed is definitely too slow for me to do a backup from a local network to the cloud for 500 Gigabyte worths of data.  Imagine people who have like Terabytes worth of data, I wonder how would they feel if they have to do backups to the cloud.  With faster broadband such as Google Fiber, I believe the cloud with become even more popular.  If the cloud is not too expensive for people to store Terabytes worth of data and Google Fiber type of service is readily available, I don’t see how people would not find this combination a super delicious one.  Yummy bandwidth and data redundancy if we care not about the possibility of data leak from a possibility of weak computer security in the cloud.  Of course, don’t forget to encrypt whatever data when such data are to be stored in the cloud, yo?

I’m just talking about doing backups of data only, but obviously any faster broadband which is in the league with Google Fiber offers more than just the upload essential, because Google Fiber type of download speed (i.e., Gigabit per second bandwidth) can also bring more opportunities to people and businesses alike.  Just imagine the possibility of having Google Fiber type of broadband connection… more households may be able to enjoy playing games, streaming movies, listening to music, surfing the web, watching Internet TV, video chatting over the Internet, shopping online with enhance experience (e.g., interactive media shopping experience which allows people to use video chat and 3D interactive contents), and a lot more at the same time.

With such amazing possibilities — that I had mentioned — float to the surface of the pool when faster broadband gets deploy, we can definitely see modern businesses that rely on the Internet for revenues will see faster broadband a positive thing and a must thing to have.  For the people who are the consumers of all Internet and digital things, they  might be even more addicted to the Internet since they can do more all at once.  Imagine the fantastic feeling of a big size family when Google Fiber sort of broadband service provider is coming to town, the family will definitely not have to take turns to consume all Internet and digital things.

Verizon FiOS Will Soon Install 300 Mbps Up and 65 Mbps Down Broadband In Homes, But You Need To Be Where FiOS Is Available And Have Mad Cash!

English: A map of where Verizon Fios is availa...

English: A map of where Verizon Fios is available in the US according to Fiberexperts.com (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m so excited about Verizon big push for faster broadband.  Verizon is going to allow some home users to purchase broadband plan which has 300 Mbps download speed and 65 Mbps upload speed.  Nonetheless, did you notice I used the key words “some home users?”  I’ve been waiting for Verizon FiOS in my area for a long time already, but so far only AT&T and Comcast are the two viable competitive choices for me.  So, it’s exciting for me to see Verizon FiOS to allow 300 down and 65 up broadband speed (in Mbps of course), but it’s such a teaser for so many users who are not living in the areas where they can get Verizon FiOS.  Arstechnica reported that Verizon 300/65 up/down FiOS with two year contract will cost around $204.99.  Obviously, the latest and fastest Verizon FiOS speed is super cool, but the price is too expensive.  Nonetheless, if you are going for Verizon FiOS 300/65 up/down broadband speed, you will not have any trouble of using the cloud for doing data backup.  CrashPlan come to mind anyone?  (I hate how most broadband connections allow super slow upload speed, therefore doing backup to the cloud is like watching a crawling of a snail.  In my opinion, Verizon FiOS is the panacea to this pet peeve of mine.)  Check out the video on Verizon soon to be the fastest broadband yet in U.S. right after the break.

Source:  http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/06/verizon-reveals-prices-behind-300mbps-fios-upgrades/

Should Broadband Be As Fast As Possible And Yet Bandwidth Should Be Unlimited?

broadband

broadband (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

I’m going to write a quickie to voice my view in regarding to what WSJ had just reported… how the U.S. government is now probing the cable companies for their data cap.  Data cap is how we have to put up with the bandwidth prescription as cable companies may either throttle the broadband speed or charge us more if we’ve went beyond the bandwidth limit.  Whether it’s a good thing or not for the government to probe to see if there is an antitrust issue pertaining to how the cable companies have relied on the use of data cap to make profits, I think I should be bias and take the stances that side with customers and innovation.  Regarding to whatever else (e.g., more expensive digital contents, etc…), I think supply and demand will always play a major role in pushing down the prices, and so we should worry less unless something that may be beyond our control will dictate otherwise.  Furthermore, it’s obvious that data cap can allow the cable companies to destroy competitors’ business models (e.g., Netflix, Hulu) and bilk more money from broadband customers.

Look, we’re living in the Internet age or you can say it’s the information age, and whatever is in the way of the progress of this age is definitely an obstruction of everything that this age yearns for.  Albeit, this age isn’t everything glorious, because there are bad things and good things all mix up in the same soup — such as pornographic materials can be accessed by minors so easily but yet humans are more connected digitally than ever before… to allow knowledge to be transfer faster and cheaper.  This age is much more as it’s pushing the boundary of experimentations and summoning forth the innovations.  Albeit that people might consume too much digital goods and lose sight of being moderation, but this age is definitely has changed how people entertain themselves in plethora of ways.  Even more, this age allows transactions to be carried out way faster than before, therefore business can be done faster and so on.  The rises of Amazon, Netflix, Google, Apple (i.e., iPhone), and few other well known today brands that have real impact on the Internet — tell us a lot about the contributions that this age has to offer to humankind.  OK, let us not be so critical even though we know competitive, undercut, low prices of products and services that deal by the brands I mentioned previously may not last forever, but it’s what it’s as now — and the theory of supply and demand will continue to play a major role in easing down the unreasonable pricing of whatever that is hot in the market.

The next obvious step is to allow broadband to make deep penetration into small cities and rural areas.  Nonetheless, not only deep penetration matters a lot, but broadband has to be way more faster.  How come?  If you’re a Youtube user who constantly uploading new videos to your YouTube channel, you’ll know what I mean.  To upload a 12 GB 1080p high definition video, it would take around six hours or more to do so, if I’m not mistaken, with AT&T’s current Uverse upload speed which is just about 3Mbps.  If AT&T and other broadband providers can provide faster upload speed, users who are doing something as uploading videos to YouTube can totally be more productive as they will have more time to create videos and less time waiting for a video to be uploaded.  Sure, you can make the argument that these users can totally multitask their efforts such as using one computer to upload the videos and another computer to create and edit videos, but I still think that users can be more productive with faster upload speed as they can totally upload more videos to their YouTube channels than otherwise.  Instead of just only applying the positive effects of having faster upload speed to the uploading of YouTube videos, we can see that faster upload speed might allow home users to work with all things digital in a much more effective manner.  For an instance, home users can backup their computer data to the cloud way faster!  I can go on and on with this… but…  I don’t even want to address about how having faster broadband download speed is just as important as having faster broadband upload speed, because it’s obvious that so many nowadays applications are definitely data intensive than ever before (e.g., video streaming, teleconference, video gaming, online education, online data intensive project collaborations, data restoration from the cloud, etc…).

Technology is all about efficiency and progress.  If U.S. is struggling to keep up with world broadband standard, then we should push for faster broadband immediately.  If we keep on being slow in this market, we might too be left behind in other important markets.  After all, many markets nowadays are evermore depending on fast broadband penetration.  Of course broadband isn’t everything, but it’s a very big deal.  How big?  (OK, I admit I do not see the difference between broadband and mobile types of Internet connection, because in the end it’s all about how fast and how soon and how much data can travel from point A to point B!)  Soon, there will be even more people who will demand for even more smart phones (e.g., China, India), and so the Internet is going to be a busier place than ever before.  Sure, the future Internet might see the  inevitable rise in mobile traffics, but have we even considered about how our homes will get smarter?  Smarter homes mean more devices within homes will have Internet connectivity, therefore the Internet will get even bigger!  So, we can safely assume the Internet will continue to play a very big role in our future digital lives, therefore more innovations will come into existences soon.  Internet livelihood depends entirely on its own vibrant, and a sluggish Internet won’t be so vibrant.  With that in mind, a sluggish Internet is like an obstacle which obstructs the progress of future innovations.  Let say my view on why we need faster broadband, the one without any bandwidth limitation, is rather bias, but I think it does carry weight in term of thinking forward.  Let us look forward into the future where sluggish, limited broadband will be something of the archaic past.

Can Comcast Ditching 250 GB Data Cap Be A Sign For A Future Of Which The Old Media Becomes The Radio Of Today?

Picture of a Comcast service vehicle taken in ...

Picture of a Comcast service vehicle taken in an open area from a public street in Macomb, Illinois 61455 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PCMAG reported that Comcast will ditch the 250GB data cap for their customers soon, because Comcast is exploring the option of increasing the data cap beyond 250GB.  When questioned, Comcast refused to say that people needed more bandwidth, instead they said nowadays it simply makes sense to have their customers with bigger data cap since online videos are becoming evermore popular.  In my opinion, I think sooner or later, the ISP industry will get evermore competitive and people will use more data than the data cap allows.  The people who need more bandwidth will just have to leave the ISPs that do not provide bigger data cap.

Google might speed up the adoption of which to abandon the data cap altogether.  Obviously, I’m looking at how Google is providing 100 times faster than today Internet connection speed for Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO.  Perhaps, once Google thinks that they will reap even more profits by providing ultra fast fiber broadband beyond Kansas City, KS and Kansas City, MO., then the competition will definitely push more ISPs to rethink about data cap logic.

Sure, Google has deeper intention for offering ultra fast fiber broadband.  I think Google wants to make sure they have the experience in providing ISP service, because Google never knows that they might need to roll out their very own ISP service to just about anyone who relies on Google services.  Perhaps, Google fears that one day ISPs will be able to dictate what people can watch and download over the Internet.  If such a day will happen, Google’s ultra fast fiber broadband will be able to aid Google in providing Google whatever services over the web to just about anybody as usual.  Google will always be the master of its own Internet services!

Google is so depending on the Internet for its prosperity, therefore no matter is too small to be overlooked when it comes to how Google does business over the Internet — ultra fast fiber broadband service/experiment is definitely a defensive and possibly an offensive strategy.  I don’t think Google ultra fast fiber broadband has data cap, but I’m not sure.  Nonetheless, I think Google wants to promote a future where data can roam just about anywhere without being restrained by the data cap limitation.  It makes sense, because Google core business relies on unrestrained Internet.  One good example would be YouTube.  Sure, Adwords is what making Google the most money, but YouTube, in the near future, might be the most important medium of which to allow Google to increase its core business might (i.e., Internet advertising — Adwords and Adsense).  Of course, nobody would know for sure that YouTube will play out as we think Google has hoped, but at the rate of everyone is slowly ditching the traditional TV for online media — it’s only a matter of time when online media will rule the world and the traditional media (i.e., TV) has to become something like the radio of today.  So, in order for Google to prosper in the upcoming media order, Google has to make sure that YouTube will become evermore popular and people will want to stream YouTube videos evermore.

Google’s YouTube might be so powerful as to how it will attract advertising dollars like nobody has ever seen something like it before.  How come?  Imagine regular TVs will tune into YouTube channels and not the traditional TV channels.  Such a future is probably where YouTube wants to be!  I think such a future for YouTube is very very possible!  Google is creating and promoting original TV type of contents for YouTube, therefore this sort of actions from Google confirms the importance of YouTube in regarding to Google’s media/advertising business.

Google is probably not the only one who thinks about how important it is for folks to be able to use the Internet without data cap, because there are so many other companies out there whose sole business relies entirely on the Internet.  Especially Netflix, because Netflix relies on the ISPs not to tighten the data cap as Netflix customers need to be able to stream Netflix movies.  Eventually, the old media will see that it’s futile to hold back the wave of the new media, therefore I think data cap strategy is too narrow.  Even the ISPs will be able to profit hugely when data cap limitation will no longer be around.  How come?  Like I had mentioned earlier, people will just have to leave the ISPs that are not providing them enough bandwidth.  Some of you might argue that people might not be able to leave their old ISP, because there won’t be a second ISP within the same broadband coverage area.  Well, I think such thinking will be outdated.  How come?  We can just take a look at Google ultra fast fiber broadband experimentation and know that the future for ISP industry will be a lot more competitive.  I sure hope the future will allow people to have a lot more choice of choosing an ISP, and I think we are heading for such a future anyway.  This is why data cap is just too narrow of a strategy — a strategy which will make ISP industry looks petty and the rest look eager to push ahead for a brighter better broadband/Internet future.

Afterthought:  I don’t think to do away with data cap is to encourage piracy.  People who want to pirate are the people who will never pay for the things that they want to pirate in the first place, therefore forcing onto them with data cap plans is like asking them to be more prudent with what they want to pirate.  Furthermore, people who have great technological knowledge might hack into various networks so they can use such networks’ resources (e.g., bandwidth, storage space) for their piracy activities anyway.  This is why data cap is senseless for a future that relies evermore on a busier Internet/broadband highways.

Sources:

Can Broadband Power Clean Energy Future?

Can broadband power a clean energy future for United States?  According to Huffingtonpost’s article “Broadband Can Power Clean Energy Future,” a new report, Building a 21st Century Communications Economy, suggests that the more people are connecting to broadband the better it’s for a country in terms of economy and environmental benefits.  Several good examples are people shop online, go paperless billing, work at home, teleconference rather than driving to meetings, and so on.

I don’t know the factual statistic of the claim from Building a 21st Century Communications Economy report, but I do think having a strong broadband nation will help bring about several benefits in relation to economy and environmental benefits.  With this being said, I’m not sure broadband can be a major catalyst for going green.  People are going to drive more when they feel like it, because people have choices.  Some people won’t do teleconference, because they prefer face to face kind of meetings.  The energy which requires to run the foundations of broadband and information industry might not be small in energy footprint.

Nonetheless, I think faster and stronger broadband can somewhat be a boon to an economy.  Faster and stronger broadband certainly will encourage innovation in information field, ultimately might bring about a stronger economy; nothing is certain though since an overall economy depends on many more factors than just having a strong information industry (e.g., export, import).  With a stronger economy, a country then can easily spend some money in researching ways to bring about the environmental benefits (i.e., creating a greener economy).  But, nothing is certain!