Monday, November 12, 2007

Online storage solution that's easy and inexpensive

Quick quiz -- would you rather pay $200+ for an external hard drive and backup software or $0.15 per GB-month of storage used and $20 for a front-end backup application?

Hmmm... not quite as snappy as I'd initially envisioned, but it should get the point across that online file backup can now be a reasonable solution, particularly because that external hard drive is just as vulnerable to wear-and-tear, floods, fire and destruction as the PC you are backing up with it. Same goes for CD and DVD ROMs.

Sometimes I stray from my gaming-related newsfeeds and find something applicable to the realm of work. I've been meaning to find a way to backup my work documents and ran across a recent post (hit ctrl-f and search for "Amazon S3" to skip to the heading) on 43folders that spurred me to try an online solution.

The front-end application is called JungleDisk. It costs $20 after the free 30-day trial and provides an easy-to-use interface for Amazon's S3 web service, which is what actually stores the data. JungleDisk makes an otherwise consumer-unfriendly service meant for developers accessible and useful for everyday backup.

JungleDisk provides secure SSL connections to S3 as well as the option to separately encrypt documents before they are sent. Windows, Mac and Linux versions are available, as well as the source code. Since JungleDisk is merely the front-end to your S3 account, you can also run JungleDisk on any computer with Internet access and you'll have your files.

The S3 service provides off-site, decentralized, redundant and unlimited data storage.

Setting up JungleDisk was pretty easy. No configuration was required beyond the default settings other than telling it which directory I wanted to backup. The "disk" it creates shows up in your "My Network Places" folder on Windows. If you use Windows XP or Vista you can map the "disk" to a local drive letter. For the S3 account, you can either add it as a web service to your existing Amazon account or create a separate Amazon and corresponding S3 account.

As a test I backed up one of my entire directories of work docs, which was 17.3 MB of various Word, WordPerfect, Adobe and OpenDocument files. It took 2 to 3 minutes to upload everything and there were no problems. I was able to check my S3 account activity immediately and it showed I would be billed a whopping $0.04 on December 1 for the storage and transfer.

JungleDisk can automatically backup particular files or directories about as frequently as anyone could want. I'm going to give this a try for awhile and see how it goes. I certainly feel better now that important documents are safely backed up.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been reading about the online backup industry for a while now. Online backup is maturing and slowly getting the attention of the general consumer. One website worth mentioning is the backup review site:

http://www.BackupReview.info

This very informative site, not only posts up to date news and articles from the industry, but also lists about 400 online backup companies and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis and features a CEO Spotlight page, where senior management people from the industry are interviewed.