Online data backup and storage services, such as Carbonite and Mozy, have drawn a lot of attention lately – and with good reason. For the most part, they are very good at their primary purpose – that is, backing up files on the cloud, so they can be accessed from any Internet-enabled PC or retrieved in the event your computer goes kaput. But an external hard drive is about more than just data backup – it’s about media storage and sharing. And when it comes to this, no online service can yet match the plug-and-play ease of a USB hard drive. There’s also an issue of speed: your ability to quickly pull a file off the cloud is limited by the speed of your Internet connection – a shortcoming that becomes problematic if you are dealing with large movie files.
Online backup services have another potential problem as well: there’s the possibility that they will suffer their own crashes or data losses – or simply go out of business. If that happens, you’ll definitely wish you had a physical backup as well.
So though I encourage you to take advantage of online data backup services (as long as you are willing to pay the requisite fees), they should be viewed only as one part of your data backup constellation, and not as a replacement for external hard drives.