Networked storage or off-site backups- opinions?

I’m at the point where I’m getting tired of keeping my external drive hooked up to my laptop, because it’s a pain to disconnect when I want to move around the house. Keeping it disconnected until I’m actually ready to do a backup is also a pain. I’ve been trying to decide whether to incorporate a 500GB or 1TB drive into my wireless network, or to pay for remote data storage (like Mozy, or similar).

I like the idea of keeping everything local and using my own network, but I don’t know what I’d do if there was a fire at my house, for instance. Remote storage is probably safer but can be costly, and there’s always that niggling concern whether my files are being checked for their content.

Both seem to have their perks, so I thought I’d ask those that utilize one or the other. What do you use, what do you like about it, what do you dislike, any regrets, any advice?


I use a (free, 2GB) Dropbox account for the stuff that’s absolutely critical, and just swap around a couple of 300GB USB disks for everything else. One stays at home hooked up to the docking station for my weekly-ish backups, as well as for hoarding [del]porn[/del] data that I like to have around but don’t necessarily need taking up the limited space on my notebook’s hard disk. The other spends most of its time sitting in my desk at work, but I bring it home every month or two to back up the first disk.

I used to do essentially the same thing with a homebrew low-power Samba server plus an external disk for offsite copies, but I got sick of having yet another machine sitting around taking up space and sucking down juice. The external disk gets powered on only when I really need it.

FWIW, my electricity bill was $30 in October.

I use Jungle Disk with Amazon S3. It’s cheap, it works great, and it’s off-site.

I just use it for critical stuff though, for full backups I use Time Machine with an external drive connected to my wireless router.

Keeping data off site is a good idea–if you have control of the site… Like,say, your garage. And it’s free, too.
Or maybe a friend’s basement.(but that might cost you a beer or two…)

Keeping data off site in a place where you have ZERO control over it is something I don’t understand. You send your valuable data off into the vastness of the inertnet----and don’t even know on what continent it is being stored.

If the company goes bankrupt, or if there’s a military coup in Singapore, you could log in and get an error message, “site not available”…Your data will be gone forever, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

The data on systems like mozy is stored encrypted. The encryption happens on your machine so its basically junk to the staff at the datacenters. Also its not like mozy or corbomite are flybynight outfits. If anyone got so much as a whiff that data was somehow being leaked to interested parties the place would fold overnight. The commercial IT world is far too picky for that and many large companies use these types of services.

Also the only time you need to go looking is when you need your backups. If the system was offline you would be getting messages from your software that it was having issues contacting the datacenter the day it happened. So its not like you would be looking 6 months later and wondering why you had no backups.

How damaging to a HDD is a fire?

Our office file server and personal media servers are backed up to an NAS down in the basement. What kind of natural disaster can strike that would render them absolutely inoperable?

What of fire damage?

Water damage from hoses?

Flood damage?



I realize that the unit would be toast (heh, literally), but how hard would it be for a recovery service to pull the data?

Hard drives are pretty tough in some respects and fragile in others. Places like Drivesavers and such can pull data for machines that have been submerged in water. Basically unless the platters have been severely damaged they can probably get something off of them.

If your data is important, back up to your own network, but have 2 backup drives. Swap them out once a week and keep one offsite.

You can do incremental backups on most days, you only need to do full backups on the day of the swap (to have a master backup on the about-to-be-swapped drive) and the day after the swap (to get a good backup onto the new drive right away.)

In other words, I swap drives on Friday after the backup runs that day. I have full backups run on Friday and Saturday, and incrementals run Sunday through Thursday.