The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Dick Eastman.Cloud computing is in the news almost daily—and for good reasons. It offers cost-effective capabilities that would have been very expensive only a few years ago. Probably the most popular cloud computing application for consumers is that of making off-site backups to protect your files against hard drive failures or from in-home disasters, such as fire, flood, burst water pipes, hurricanes, tornados, or other tragedies. Companies providing cloud-based backup services include Backblaze, Mozy, Carbonite, CrashPlan, McAfee Online Backup, Norton Online Backup, Jungle Disk, and dozens of others as well.
Services like Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, and the like also store files off-site but are better categorized as "online storage services" because of their lack of a desktop program or app that automatically keeps your existing data backed up or synced to their servers. While you certainly can manually upload your important folders and files with these programs, the lack of an automatic backup process means that they are not true backup programs, in my opinion. Still, you can use them for backup purposes if you manually move the desired files each time or if you create your own automatic backup process using Windows .BAT files or Apple Scripts or some similar software tool.
While cloud-based backup services are great (my computers back up to the cloud every hour, day or night, as long as they are powered up and connected), many computer owners are afraid of storing their private files in servers that are not owned or controlled by them. The most common question I hear is, "Is it safe?" While I feel that a combination of file encryption and off-site backups is very safe (see my article at http://goo.gl/3srg0), many people are reluctant to store their personal information in any of the above-mentioned services. For those people, a new product may be the perfect answer. If offers great on-site and off-site backup capabilities as well as high security with all data (optionally) stored only on disk drives you own and control. In short, you can create your own “mini-cloud” that is totally under your control. No one else will ever be able to access your files without your permission. Even the disk drive(s) involved can be installed in your home or at other locations you control.
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