I have written many times about the wisdom of saving files "in the cloud" on various backup services, such as Mozy, Carbonite, BackBlaze, Amazon S3, CrashPlan, and many other services. At the end of almost every article, someone will post a question asking, "Is it safe? Can I trust the employees at that backup service? Or will they steal my information?"
In almost all cases, the answer is "Yes, it is safe." However, a new program eliminates all doubt.
Safe Machine solves the problem in your own computer, before any information leaves your system destined for an online backup service. Unlike some other online storage solutions, with Safe Macine installed, your computer locally encrypts and decrypts your files using military-grade algorithms. The encryption is performed before any files leave your own computer. The only files sent to the remote system are encrypted, unable to be read by anyone who does not possess the encryption key that you create. You are the only one who can decrypt the files, making Safe Machine one of the most secure, commercially available, data storage solutions available. Even if an employee of a hosting service does gain access to your files (which is doubtful), he or she won't be able to read them. Because of the military-grade encryption, all files will appear to be gibberish to anyone that does not know the secret encryption key that you created.
Who cares if someone else can access your encrypted files? You remain in control of your own privacy at all times.
Safe Machine can encrypt files before they are sent to your own local hard drive(s), to external hard drives, shared drives, flash drives, or to remote servers that you already have permission to use via FTP, SFTP, or by Webdav. Best of all, the software is free. If you already have storage space available someplace on the Internet, Safe Machine might be a good solution for you. For instance, I am now using Safe Machine to store encrypted files on the www.eogn.com web server. I'll invite anyone to try to hack into those files!
Safe Machine does not work with the previously-mentioned backup services, such as Mozy, Carbonite, BackBlaze, Amazon S3, or CrashPlan. It only works with hard drives, flash drives, and network services using FTP, SFTP, or Webdav or with a new online service called Safe Machine Storage, obviously operated by the same company that produces the Safe Machine software.
Safe Machine Storage provides storage space in much the same manner as Mozy, Carbonite, or BackBlaze at modest prices, about 25 cents per gigabyte per month. Files saved using Safe Machine Storage apparently are actually saved on Amazon S3, probably the most reliable and secure commercial file hosting service in the world. The Safe Machine Storage service appears to simply be a user-friendly front end to Amazon's admittedly cryptic S3 service. Safe Machine Storage changes the cryptic user interface to "easy to use." Use of the Safe Machine Storage service is optional; you can use it or a local disk drive or any FTP, SFTP, or Webdav storage you already have.
Prices and a lot more information about Safe Machine Storage may be found at http://www.safemachine.com/storage.
One downside is that Safe Machine does not make automated middle-of-the-night backups. You have to manually copy files, using Windows Explorer or Macintosh Finder or a file manager on Linux. I suppose you could write an automated process using the AT command and BATch files (in Windows) or cron jobs and scripts (in Macintosh or Linux). However, I haven't explored that possibility.
Another downside is that there is no method of retrieving files to an iPhone, Android phone, or similar device. Safe Machine's encryption and decryption only works on Windows, Macintosh, and Linux.
The Safe Machine software is free. There is no optional "pro version" and no screens ever appear asking for money. Use of the optional, extra-cost Safe Machine Storage service remains just that: optional.
I have been using Safe Machine's free software for a few days to store copies of a few important files using FTP to space I already own on the www.eogn.com web server. So far, the software has worked well.
You can learn more about Safe Machine or even download the free software at http://www.safemachine.com/. The users manual for Safe Machine can be downloaded as a PDF file from http://www.safemachine.com/downloads/latest/user-guide.pdf, allowing you to "check out" the software's features before installing.
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