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Getting connected to online backups

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Review Let's do a quick straw poll. How many of you back up your work laptop? Some have no choice - the IT department makes sure it happens. But the rest of us?

Now, how many of you know someone who has lost all the data on their laptop, through theft, hardware failure or accident? Look at all those hands - it doesn't look good, does it?

Things get more scary in the home, the small-office / home-office or the small business, where only the most anal make sure that their valued data (be it digital photos, email, sales reports or partially developed programs) are backed up. Given that computers are still so fragile, why do we leave ourselves so vulnerable? Perhaps because it's so tricky to protect data.

Sure, anyone can burn a CD, but where do you put it? If you do it every week, how do you know which one you should refer to? A full backup is too slow, but an incremental backup (picking up only those things that have changed) is almost impossible to manage, as anyone who has trawled through six months of increments looking for a particular file, will attest.

The proprietary formats used by many backup packages do not help, meaning you often have to remember what you used for the backup, so you can do a restore. There may be a package out there that has resolved these issues, but I'm not aware of it. So what chance has someone who hasn't spent the last 15 years working in IT?

Yes, there are answers, but you have to work hard to find them. For me, the only solution is for someone else to look after the problem.

To this end, I am trialling a service from a company called Connected.com. Essentially, it takes backups of my information to its servers, somewhere out there on the Internet.

Before you get alarmed by the concept of putting private data in the hands of an unknown third party, let me stress that the data is encrypted. Also, Connected has some very big customers - here's a a list. ecurity is about risk management, so each company and individual needs to assess the risk for themselves. But if Connected.com is good enough for Deloitte & Touche, Visa International and Lockheed Martin, it's good enough for me.

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