Dropbox – Believe the hype.

Voting for the 2009 CrunchiesTechCrunch’s celebration of “the most compelling startups, internet and technology innovations of the year” – has opened.  One of my FAVORITE applications of ALL TIME – Dropbox – is nominated.  Time for a plug.

I use many different computers and devices, and moving data between all of them can be a pain.  Keeping a document synced between all my devices is a bigger pain.  Solution – Dropbox.  Once you have made a FREE account on www.dropbox.com, you can begin to access 2GB of space in the “cloud”.  You can access this space via the web (OK) or via a local folder on your computer of choice (oh, but there is more…)  The local folder is the cool part.  Install Dropbox on your Mac, Windows box, or Linux machine, and a local folder magically appears.  Now put a document in that folder.  Like magic, the document syncs with the cloud (and the connection is secure!)  Now install Dropbox on another machine, and look, the document appears in that folder on machine 2.  Edit the document on machine 2.  The latest version is on machine 1.  The trumpets sound!

Wanna share files with other people?  It does that too.

Most importantly, this product meets the simple yet often overlooked point – its does exactly what it says it does…i.e. it works!

There is also an iPhone version which is great for accessing files on the go.

If you want more than 2GB, then you can pay for more space (starting at 50GB for $9.99 a month.)

Enough said…want more?  Watch the video.

-C

New Year’s Resolutions: Backups

When is the last time you backed up your data?  Have you ever backed up your data?

Everyone will lose some piece of important data – either accidentally or because of an equipment failure.  Both have happened to me, and until recently the event was followed by much panic and frustration.  One of my 2009 New Year’s resolutions was to put a backup solution in place that met the following crieria:

  1. It works.
  2. I do not have to think about it.
  3. It does not matter what OS I use.
  4. I have both on-site and off-site backups.

1. It works. A simple yet surprisingly overlooked detail.  You would think that a vended backup solution would “work” since someone is asking you to spend money on their product.  Unfortunately, this is not always the case.  Also, “it works” includes not having to go through technical gymnastics to retrieve my data in the heat of “argh!!! I just deleted my entire thesis!”

2. I do not have to think about it. A common point of backup failure is the user.  Backups need to be automatic.  I have an external hard drive that I use to make a backup of my laptop drive with the awesome program Super Duper but this backup scheme requires that I REMEMBER to run the backup.  I could write a script to run a backup everyday, but I never got around to it and it is not reasonable to expect everyone to write a backup script.  This “REMEMBER” detail became extremely clear the day I dumped a mug of coffee on laptop.  My poor MacBook Pro…

3. It does not matter what OS I use. Although I primary use a Mac, I am operating system agnostic.  Mac, Windows, Linux…it’s all good.  I cannot guarantee that I will be able to retrieve my data on the same operating system with which I made the data.  Furthermore, I want one solution that I can use for all of my computers.

4. I have both on-site and off-site backups. There are a lot of reasons to have on-site and off-site backups.  Fire, theft, travel.  No matter how good your backup scheme is, you have to be able to access the backup.  Kinda hard if someone runs off with your external hard drives.

The solutions…

Backblaze

The best $5/month I have ever spent on technology.  The Blackblaze client backs-up your data files in the background and keeps a backup for 30 days in the “cloud.”  For $5/month (unlimited storage – yippee!), all of my data (documents, photos, music, external hard drives, etc…) is copied to their servers.  No thinking required!  I was able to quickly retrieve a recent (hours old) copy of my data after the coffee incident…whew!  You can also restore individual files or role back to an earlier version of a file if you accidentally delete something important.

Super Duper

A local bootable backup is a critical piece of any backup scheme.  Super Duper is my program of choice for the Mac (sorry Window users).  Super Duper coupled with a external Firewire drive ensures you have a bootable copy of your boot drive.  It may be out of date…like mine…but when added to Backblaze you have the best of both worlds.

Drobo

The Drobo is magic.  It is an external hard drive that behaves like a RAID – you can lose a hard disk and not lose any data.  The beauty of the Drobo, however, is that you can mix-and-match drives- not something you can do with a standard RAID.  Want more space?  Put in a bigger drive.  Did a drive go bad?  No worries, just swap out the old-and-busted for a new and improved.  Furthermore, you can link a Drobo to your Backblaze account giving you both on-site and off-site backups of your data!

Take the time this year and create a backup scheme.  You will glad you did.