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Article 5 - Simple remote backup solutions

We have looked at local backup solutions where your backup device is in the same building as the Mac you want to be backed up, but what about a remote (or cloud) backup solution to run in parallel to the local solution? This provides you with the best level of protection from data loss.

Remote backups rely on a reasonable upload speed from your broadband provider. You can check this by running a speed line test at speedtest.net and look for the upload speed in the results. Anything less than 1Mbps upload may make a remote backup solution impractical. Your selected folders on your Mac with your data enclosed is uploaded to the remote location. The key is to make sure that you have selected the correct folders for back-up. As mentioned earlier in this series of articles if you are in any doubt where you important information resides on your Mac please seek professional advice. 

Remote backup solutions can take the form of a commercial subscription based service such as Ceejay CrashPlan or it could be another computer at a second location that you have. Either way, it covers you should you have theft, fire, flood or similar issue at the location of your primary Mac. 

I would be weary of some commercial cloud-based backup plans. I have come across poorly designed software that seriously overworks your Macs processor whilst it is doing a backup and this means the fans are blasting and the Mac slows down significantly. My recommended commercial packages are from Code42 and their CrashPlan packages. For as little as $5 a month CrashPlan Central will give one Mac unlimited online backup storage. It should be noted that your backup will reside on U.S. servers so it may be suitable for individuals but not for companies as there is legislation protecting your client's data leaving the E.U. unknowingly. CrashPlan has a distributor within the E.U. that caters for this legislation that has servers in Amsterdam and Dublin. Dejac is a reseller of the CrashPlan E.U. service and you can get unlimited storage for your business computers from £30.00 plus VAT a month.

As mentioned in article 4, both CrashPlan Free and Carbon Copy Cloner allow you to backup to another location via the internet. I have configured a number of remote backup solutions for clients where their main computer(s) backup to another location at a branch office or even a home Mac, thereby creating their own cloud backup solution. This costs a fraction of the price of subscription services without jeopardising the data residing on any other computer apart from ones they own themselves. 

I am not going to pretend that this isn't without its challenges as you will need to know how to open ports on the router at the remote location to enable the incoming backup data. You will also need to make adequate storage provision for the backup data at the remote location. In addition, you will also need to monitor the backup logs regularly and react accordingly.  But if configured correctly it is a remote backup system that has its foundations in much dearer, professional systems and well worth considering if you have the luxury of having two locations equipped with broadband connections.

In the final article in this series, I will summarise my recommended backup strategy and add some good practical tips that should ensure that any data-loss disaster doesn't become a crisis.