Everybody realizes that it is important to make regular backups of your computer data on a regular basis. In reality, the choice you have to make comes down to deciding whether to use local computer backup programs (to synchronize data to a local storage system, such as an external hard drive) or upload your data to an online service. This article looks at both of these options to highlight the benefits and drawbacks of using each.

Online Computer Backup Services
As broadband speeds have increased, it has become increasingly feasible for folk to upload their data backups to an online service. All the user needs is a subscription to the service and a small backup program/application for communicating with the server to upload your files.


  • You can access your data from anywhere in the world across the internet and (potentially) using a vast array of web enable devices.
  • You don't need to be burdened with additional hardware (backup storage devices).
  • The software services often permit continuous backups so that the service is constantly uploading your new/changed files, saving you the responsibility of remembering to back up your data.
  • You are dependent on having access to a fast internet connection – something that may not be available if you wish to back up while traveling.
  • There is the additional cost of the service which is often on a pro-rata basis according to the volume of data that you want to store.
Local Storage With Computer Backup Programs
The old school approach still favored by many is to use computer backup programs to copy your data and documents to a storage device (tape backup, external hard drive, DVDs, etc.). The software is often free these days (e.g. Microsoft SyncToy) so all you need to purchase is the hardware.

  • You have complete flexibility over what type of storage device that you wish to use.
  • Copying to a local system over USB2.0 or a home network is a lot faster than transmitting large files over the internet.
  • You have control and full responsibility over the security of your data. You do not have to worry about data going missing/being stolen on the web.
  • With local computer backup programs, you have to remember to run the program often to keep you copies current (though there are ways of setting up a task scheduler to run the backups for you).
  • Increased risk of data loss if both the computer & storage device are stolen/lost/virus damaged.