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Backup and File Sharing Options

New services are appearing all the time. Here are some of the most popular ones, and some other options that might work for you.

The advantage of backing up to the cloud is that you never have to worry about loosing that USB memory stick or portable hard drive, and your data is protected no matter what happens to your computer or building. The services listed here encrypt your data before sending it out across the Internet and storing it.

Most services offer a limited sized free version. A good way to test the waters and learn what works best for you and your work groups.

In addition to sharing files between colleges, many services allow files to be shared between devices -- PC's, Mac's, tablets and smart phones.

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One of the most popular file sharing sites out there.

While not a substitute for regular comprehensive backups, DropBox does provide a convenient way to back up and safeguard individual files or groups of files.

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Spider Oak provides easy computer backup and file sharing capabilities. Archives all versions of every file, which allows peace of mind, but can rack up storage fees.

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Jungle Disk

Jungle Disk is primarily for computer backup, but does allow some file sharing. Designed to easily and automatically backup your computers and share files between computers. All files are encrypted before leaving the computer.

At the department, school or district level, Jungle Disk can be used to ensure all computers are being backed up on a regular basis, without end users being able to see each others' files.

This is the service that our webmaster uses to back up everything. A little more technical than other options, but highly recommended.

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A list of file sharing options

AlternativeTo maintains a list of current file sharing options and their relative rankings. Find an option outside the mainstream offerings. Just make sure your data is encrypted if it's not for public consumption.

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Duplicati is a free, open source alternative to commercial backup software and offerings. It can securely store encrypted, compressed backups onto your school or school district's file servers (think FTP), or to cloud storage services like Amazon S3, Google Drive, and Rackspace Cloud Files. Runs under Windows, Linux, and MacOS.

Duplicati is great for use by individuals with just a few GB of data to back up, or to back up large file sets if backing up over a high speed connection (upload speed of 10 Mbps or greater). Duplicati does not offer any file sharing capabilities.

This option requires someone with a technical background to set up. Day-to-day operations can be automated with no user interaction needed.

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Many people will e-mail copies of important files to their e-mail address. Just send an e-mail to yourself and attach the file(s) you want to save. The file is saved on the e-mail server ready to be access when needed.

A great option when out-of-town or working on someone else's computer.

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Help justify backup software

These 6 funny, animated gifs may not help your next proposal, but they do bring home the reasons to look at backup options.

How Often To Backup?

Our rule of thumb is... If something bad  happened, how many hours of work would you be willing to do to recreate it?

For casual users, backing up once a day is probably enough.

For writers and creators, once every 3 to 6 hours would be the upper limit.

For computers creating or processing documents all day (think student ID cards or test scanners), every hour or "continuous" might be the best option.

How many hours of work are you willing to loose?

No matter what you use, regular backups of important files is crucial.

Hard drives are a mechanical wonder, but every hard drive will fail eventually. Even solid state drives (no moving parts) can be stolen, damaged or destroyed. Files can be accidentally deleted or a malicious virus can wipe out everything.

Doing regular backups can save you a world of grief. It's one of those "pay me now or pay me later" sort of things.

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