One of the worst possible scenarios that could happen with your home computer data is that all of your computer equipment is suddenly gone.
Someone breaks into your home and steals all of your equipment. A storm destroys part or your entire home. A fire starts and although it doesn’t completely destroy your home the water damage destroys any and all electronic equipment. There are any number of different calamities which could destroy your home and everything inside it.
What happens with your computer data in these scenarios? You do proper backups to an external hard drive on a daily basis, thinking you are well protected. But now, even your backup data is gone.
The only way to protect your data against this kind of damage is to store a copy of that data in some place other than your home. One way would be to have multiple external hard drives. You should rotate them for your backups and then always keep one or more stored some place other than your home.
Most home owners are not going to go through this extra work for backups. If you have large amounts of data such as libraries of video this may still be your best option. However, many people still do not have those kinds of data volumes and can make better use of online storage options.
There are online backup providers who provide solutions to this very issue. Some may work perfectly for your household data. However, there are cons associated with using these solutions – see our Home Computer Backup Strategies guide for a list of pros and cons.
Another option is to use one of the major cloud storage vendors. These companies provide unlimited amounts of storage at a very reasonable and affordable cost. They charge for only the number of gigabytes of data you have stored, for however long you keep it there.
Amazon Web Services
Amazon Web Services has been one of the earliest companies to offer cloud data storage. Their rates are competitive and the service is offered worldwide. They now provide a number of different cloud service offerings in addition to data storage. However, we only need to store out home data in some location other than our home so we’ll use the Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3).
Sign up at the link above and you are ready to go. It costs you nothing until you start uploading data. You’ll need to upload a significant amount of data for it to cost very much.
Using GoodSync Pro Synchronization Software
The software we’ll use for this will be GoodSync Pro. They have added support for a number of different cloud storage providers, including Amazon’s S3. Since I already had an account with them it made perfect sense to continue using them. Different providers will work better for other people.
A background overview on why synchronization is an effective way to backup your important computer files can be found at Using File Synchronization as a Backup Option.
A Tutorial on Creating a One-Way Synchronization Job
The tutorial which follows is a one-way synchronization. Unlike the previous tutorials only the changes on the source side of the job will be copied to the destination. If the destination is changed for some reason, then it will be overwritten by the source copy the next time the job is run. It is strictly a backup of your data.
Create a New GoodSync Backup Job
This will be a Backup type job, meaning that only changes from the source side of the transfer will be considered and copied to the destination.
Configure the “Left Side” of the Synchronization Job
After clicking the Ok button in the previous screen you’ll be presented with an empty job. Click on the top, left Browse button to begin configuration of the left side:
Then select the “My Computer” option in the left navigation pane, and scroll down on the right until you find the documents folder for your user:
Configure the “Right Side” of the Synchronization Job
This time on the left side pane select the “Amazon S3” option.
If you created an Amazon S3 bucket using the Amazon Console, then you should see it here and can select it. Otherwise click on the “New Folder” button and give it a new name (note it appears here as a folder, but when viewing from the Amazon Console it will be a new S3 bucket). Click Ok to close this window:
The top right part of the window will have a “More” button (show as “Less” below). Click this to open additional options for the Amazon S3 destination. One in particular is to select the “Reduced Redundancy Storage” option. Since this is going to be a backup there is not really a need for the full redundancy, so enabling this option will save you some money. However, If your data storage volume is not very much the savings amount is probably not even going to be noticeable – so checking this is up to you. Click Ok when finished.
Finally, select your new folder and click Ok:
Both Sides of the Synchronization Job are now configured
You should now see the navigation path for both sides of the transfer. Click the “Auto” button to setup a new automatic job:
Schedule this job to run automatically
Click the “Logged In Mode” option to schedule a new job. As soon as you do this the next screen will pop up:
Click the “New” button to define a new schedule and set the time of day as needed. Click “Ok” when finished:
You will be prompted to enter your username (should display by default) and password for the job to run under:
The final schedule settings will display. Click the Save button to continue:
Analyze Both Sides of the Synchronization Job
Back at the main job screen you’re now ready to click the Analyze button. This will scan both sides of the job to see which files have been changed.
Synchronize the Files
Click the “Sync” button to do the initial synchronization process. Depending on how much data you have it may take some time. This job depends on your Internet Broadband connection speed as the files are being uploaded to Amazon’s S3 site. Depending on the amount of disk storage and connection speed it could take hours to days in terms of total synchronization time.
Synchronization Process Complete
That’s it! Next time it should run automatically at your scheduled time. Check it periodically to make sure there are no problems.