Take a look at Jungle Disk, a service for online backups with a good reputation. I’m testing it now and finding a lot of things to like.
The idea is simple – back up folders to a secure place online at regular intervals, and retrieve them any time but especially in the event of a computer crash.
Jungle Disk’s backup software is extremely simple to use – pick the interval for backups and put checkmarks by the folders to be backed up. The software can be installed on Windows servers and desktops as well as supporting Linux and Macs.
After a disaster, you’d install the Jungle Disk software on the new computer, then run Restore. By default, Jungle Disk keeps multiple versions of files, so you can also use it to recover earlier versions of individual documents.
The interesting thing about Jungle Disk is that it has almost no investment in this process at all. All of the hard work is done by Amazon. Yup, Amazon.
You see, Amazon has built a simply unbelievable global array of servers, capable of providing nearly unlimited amounts of storage. A tiny fraction of that is used for Amazon’s online stores.
Amazon is providing access to that online storage to anyone, at trivially cheap prices. When you install Jungle Disk, the first thing you’ll do is set up your personal account with Amazon for storage space in Amazon’s S3 service. The cost is fifteen cents per month per gigabyte, plus trivial charges for transferring files to and from the service, billed through your Amazon account. You can store as much or as little as you like – there is a size limit of 5Gb for an individual file but there are otherwise no limits whatsoever.
The Amazon storage space cannot be accessed directly, however. Developers are given the technical tools to build whatever they like for people to use with the service. Jungle Disk built a backup program. There are lots of other backup programs as well as web hosting companies, photo sharing services and many more services built around the Amazon S3 online storage.
The Jungle Disk software costs twenty bucks for a lifetime license. If the company went out of business, chances are somebody else would write software to recover data stored in Jungle Disk’s proprietary format. But Jungle Disk was immediately profitable because it just wrote some simple software – it did not try to build a global network of secure servers to go with it.
Jungle Disk is secure and simple. The first backup is slow – it’s going through your Internet connection, after all. It might take days for the first backup to complete. After that, only changed files are sent. You wouldn’t back up your entire hard drive to Jungle Disk – it can’t be used for a bare metal restore.
Personally, for the reasons I wrote up recently, I would use it in addition to another backup method.
I’m going to start using it to store another backup of my files, my Quickbooks & Quicken data, and my family photos. That’s about 35Gb of data, so that should be about five bucks a month. Nice! If I have trouble (like I did last year when I had a poor experience with another online backup service), I’ll let you know.