Thoughts on backuping data

I write this post as I am in a situation of changing my backup procedure. My whole work and a huge part of my private life (music, photographs, etc. pp.) is digital and therefore it is very, very precious. Naturally, this data should be very safe.

There are a few methods of backuping your data. You can backup it on a hard disk, and backup this hard disk on another hard disk, or use NAS or RAID. You can sync your most important files in your Dropbox. Or, you can backup your files in the cloud, for example with Arq and Amazon S3. In the last year, I relied on Dropbox and Arq, but I have come to a point where I have my doubts with those being the right backup solution. Let me explain why:

  1. You hand your data over to a third party
  2. Your data will be accessible as long as the service exists or as long as you pay for it
  3. Reliability: S3 has had some outages (actually today!)
  4. Software used for backuping

I want to further substantiate the last point, the software. As I’ve said, I use Arq for backuping to Amazon S3. Today, Arq deleted my old backups while enforcing my budget. Arq does this cyclical to ensure you only pay for what you’ve previously set in the configuration as a limit, but it should only delete the oldest backup, like Time Machine does. I’m not the only one who encountered this bug. Imagine what happened when Arq did that before I wanted to restore my data. Dropbox too has a tool that is needed for syncing files, but chances are good it’s more secure and reliable as there are many clever heads working on it. Nevertheless, you’re handing over your data and crossing your finger everything will end well.

At this point, I think I will ditch Arq, buy myself two new external hard disk drives and keep syncing my most important files in my Dropbox. Packrat can be a useful complement. Having local copies at a safe place at home and in addition a cloud-based backup powered by Dropbox might be a sane solution.

Update — 2012/11/11

I’ve reconsidered S3. I wrote that I don’t know whether I can trust Arq. There is another reason why I won’t use it: without Arq I won’t be able to restore my data. So if Arq fails, or if it won’t be further developed, I’m fucked.

So what to do? I want the cloud, in my opinion being the safest place to store my data. So here’s my solution: Transmit + S3. The easiest way. It might cost me more time than using Arq and the data isn’t encrypted, but it’s the simplest way to get my files to a safe place.