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External Hard Drives or Online Backup | Which Is Better?

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External Drive Or Online Backup?

When should you use external drives or online backup? There are different situations in which hard drives or online backup are better. Learn about them here.

David Blane
by | Posted: September 13, 2012 | Updated: April 22, 2013

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When each is better and why…

First lets talk about why you need to backup your files in general. We can all agree that being safe is better than being sorry later. Backing up files is a prevention method that reduces the stress and inconvenience of losing important data.

External Hard Drives

Often when you buy a new computer or get one repaired, the technician will recommend you buy an external drive to backup all of your data. Seems like the sales guy may be pushing something that you don't need.

The truth is external drives that are set to backup your computers hard drives can save you a lot of time. I can think back to when the hard drive failed on my iMac and if I had not had the external backup, I would have lost 300GB's of personal settings, important documents and pictures.

It can not be expressed enough, that while most people feel safe and secure, you never know when you will need to completely restore your computer.

Situations where external hard drives are better

  • Computer main hard drive failure
  • Accidental folder deleting
  • Restoring user settings
  • Quick backup without internet

Online Backup

The most popular reason to back up online (and why it makes the most sense) is because files are stored in a different location from your computer altogether.

Online storage takes the likelihood of data loss and pushes it close to 0%. Why?

  • Files are stored in highly secured datacenters
  • Sometimes in multiple datacenters (Geo-redundancy)
  • Encryption keeps out hackers which eliminates identity theft
  • Not even the online backup companies have access to your access files (you create the password and it stays out of their reach)

Situations where online backup works better:

  • Electrical shorts - Power surges
  • Break-ins (take both computer and hard drive)
  • Fires
  • Damage from moving components
  • Over time all hard drives fail, servers constantly change out hard drives

So, Which Is Better?

Well, in truth, you should do both.

While online backup can save all of your precious pictures, important documents, and financial spreadsheets, not all companies offer to store your user preferences or desktop settings.

External hard drive software usually has a way to mirror the exact file structure of your computer and should the computer go down, you can restore the computer to it's exact state.

Also, while you can get your files any time with online backup, it takes an internet connection and slower transfer speeds than external drives.

These are just a couple reasons. Our recommendation is to use both. You will be glad you have your files safe and backed up. It never hurts to be prepared.

David Blane

David is fascinated with technology and loves trying out the latest and greatest apps. He's a big proponent of using technology to simplify your life; not make it more complicated. This is why he loves online backup and cloud syncing services. Follow him to stay informed with his latest posts!

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