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Backing Up to the Internet
Even if you are already storing your data off-site, you are probably only rotating the media on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A catastrophic loss of data, then, would wipe out all the business data that's changed since your last rotation. For most businesses, this is unacceptable. Internet-based backup is an effective way to protect your most mission-critical data in a secure off-site location.
The price of online storage has fallen greatly over the last couple of years, so Internet-based backup server can be a cost-effective media for general purpose backup as well. And it also has the advantage of being sharable between multiple locations and employees if you so choose.
Data is Fragile
If you're already doing backups, think of Internet storage as a place to keep a safe copy of your most rapidly changing, essential data. A daily backup of this data will augment the good system you already have in place to store the vast bulk of data that doesn't change so quickly.
Your current backup software will treat the Internet storage as merely another container for your data, mounting it on your system as if it were another hard drive. How fast you can move data to this Internet drive depends on the speed of your network's "upstream" Internet connection. If you have 1.5 megabits upstream bandwidth, figure 9 megabytes per minute or approximately two hours for each gigabyte of transfer. But remember that even though you might be storing several gigabytes of data online, each night you'll only be uploading the files that changed that day, not the whole data set.
Finding an Internet Server
When you pick a service provider to try out, say, iBackup.com or xdrive.com, purchase a month-to-month plan at first to see if it's a good fit for your needs. Some companies have free trials, but many of these come with conditions that will quickly force you to upgrade to a paid account. My advice is to avoid the free stuff - you're only risking $10 to try it out for a month. If you decide to take out a yearly plan to save money, check back after a few months to see if the prices have fallen since you bought in. If so, you won't get your money back, but you can usually get an expanded plan for the same money.
For those of you who have not purchased backup software, most of the Internet storage companies provide you with free software that lets you schedule automated backups of the directories you specify. Although most of this free software only works with Windows, some of the companies (like iBackup.com) have utilities for the Mac as well.
Backups Should be Automated
Having "a server in the sky" is only one piece of a well-constructed backup plan, but it is a essential one for protecting your most critical and rapidly changing data.