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The life and times of james Hart: his family, his music, life in Luton and his occasional escapes onto the internet.

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Wednesday, 9 January 2013

'Free' cloud storage (the cheapskate's approach to backups!)

Online storageThere's been a growth in free on-line storage services of late, both independent - like box.net and dropbox - and affiliated with service providers (like Google Drive and Microsoft Skydrive). Of course, if you want real peace of mind, you can spend anything from a little per GB (Amazon Glacier, which is like a 'long term savings account') to a fixed price for unlimited storage for one PC (Carbonite) - more of a 'current account'. At the moment, I'm currently opting for the 'as cheap as possible' approach to online storage - for reasons which I will explain, but there may well come a time where I invest in a live 'offsite backup'.

Here's what I'm using:

  • dropbox.com

  • I use Dropbox for two purposes - for collaboration (I have created a folder called 'shared', and within that are all the folders that are linked to others' dropboxes) and for transferring files between my mobile devices and desktop computers.

    Much like the other cloud storage solutions, Dropbox works like a hard drive or shared folder in Windows, so it's easy to drag and drop information onto the internet. There's an excellent piece of sofware called ES File Explorer for Android that makes dropbox available within the filesystem there, too. Very handy for transferring lots of files!

    The bonus with Dropbox is that the more people you refer (or who open an account to share with you) the more storage you get, up to a limit of 16GB.

    Oh, and there's even a version for Linux - I use the command-line based Dropbox service to upload my security camera motion detected photos to the cloud; even if the computer gets stolen, I can at least get a glimpse of the perpetrators!

  • box.net

  • Much like Dropbox, Box can live as a shared folder both on my desktop and my phone; the main benefit to this is that they have had special offers to give away 50GB of storage. It's like having an enormous USB stick (although I obviously need an internet connection to use it!)

  • drive.google.com

  • I use Google Drive somewhat differently; it's the on-line backup for my website, SQL databases and Linux configuration scripts.

    To achieve this, I use a Linux command-line programme called Grive which simply synchronises items between the local drive and the cloud using web-based requests. It's a bit buggy and clunky, but I'm not after anything complicated - just a spare copy of my site in case the PC stops working, or I need to move it elsewhere.

All in all, then, I've got quite a few GB of data on-line, but nothing I don't keep a copy of at home as well. That said, there are some files - such as archive DVDs and backup drives - that I really could do with having a spare copy of... that's something to explore when I consider whether to pay a single on-off price for a large external hard drive (an enormous 3TB for less than £100) or a monthly 'rental' of on-line, secure, backed-up space. Decisions, decisions - as soon as I come to a conclusion, I'm sure I'll write a blog post!

Posted by james at January 9, 2013 11:01 PM

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