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Strategic insights
Finally a Useful Online Backup Solution

Written by on April 15, 2008

Online backup has, so far, been a joke. Most online backup solutions either limit your space to a couple of gigabytes, and if you need more (like everyone does) it costs a gazillion dollars. But, now HP has released Upline.

NOTE: HP has discontinued the HP Upline service as of March 31, 2009.

Update July 7, 2008: Ovi has commented that Upline is "pretty bad" when it comes to actual use, and points you towards this review.

HP Upline is brilliant. You got loads of space. So much, in fact, that it is unlimited. It's cheap, at only $59 per year and it even allows you to access or share your files at will. This backup solution is close to perfect - and I am sure it would drastically change the market for how people backup and store files online.

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What is so special about online backup?

Affordable online backup is one of those things that should have been invented long ago. It is pretty much the only way to safeguard your data from all the things that can happen to it. There 7 different backup scenarios that a backup solution needs to solve (in order of frequency):

  1. "I didn't want to save that!!!"
    The most frequent causes of data loss is when you accidently save on top of another file, or if you have made some changes that you didn't want to keep. I do not have any specific figures, but loss of prior revisions is a big problem.
  2. "Oh crap - wrong button"
    The second most frequent cause is when you accidently delete files or folders that you really wanted to keep. I did this just a week ago. I accidently deleted my entire iTunes library because I thought it was stored in a different location. And, I didn't (at the time) have a backup.
  3. "I brought it with me - but..."
    This is what people say when they have just forgotten their laptop on the train. People "lose" literally thousands of laptops every single year. In fact, a study form 2006 found that 81% of all US companies lost laptops in that year.
  4. "Wrriiii-scrak-srack-dooong-ri-re-ri-re-ri-reeee-ri-re "
    This is the sound your hard disk makes when it completely breaks down. It doesn't happen very often, but when it does you are in big trouble. Everything vanishes into digital thin air.
  5. "Hey - come back here!!!"
    Data theft, as when you laptop gets stolen in the airport, is also an issue. It actually happens very rarely. But again, when it does, your files are gone.
  6. "Do you smell smoke?"
    Fire is, of course, a very effective way to destroy all your data ...and your house. One of my friends experienced that his home-office went up into flames - and with it all the data he had + all his backups (on DVDs), because he kept them in the same room.
  7. "Is that a tsunami? ... blop blop..."
    And the final thing that can happen (but not very likely) is a natural disaster.

Online backup is really the only solution that covers all these scenarios. You know, backing up on DVD is not something you do every day, so that is already pretty pointless. Using Apple Time Machine or Windows Home Server is a bit better, but that still doesn't help if someone breaks into your house, or if it burns down. You need to backup all the time - and put the data away from where you are.

"Online" is the magic word.

HP's backup solution is not yet perfect, but it comes close. It's cheap. It can store all your files, and it is relatively easy to use but not as easy as Apple's Time Machine. It comes with a nifty set of features - mainly that you can access your files via a web interface, publish them to your blog or email them to other people. It also allows you to use the same program to backup on a local hard disk, or server on your network. All in all it is pretty good.

But, it doesn't (as far as I can tell) allow you to backup file revisions (scenario one). Nor does it currently back up your computer as a whole. It will not backup your emails, nor does it backup your system or any of your settings.

You cannot use it to completely restore a computer back to what it was. To me this is not as important, because I reinstall my computer regularly anyway. So I only need to backup my files. And, if you, like me, put all your emails in a file that the backup program can get to, then that is not really a problem either.

Online backup is finally ready for prime time.

(via HP Upline)

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Thomas Baekdal

Thomas Baekdal

Founder of Baekdal, author, writer, strategic consultant, and new media advocate.


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