Hard drive or cloud storage: What’s best for backup?

With all the important files you likely have, you might be unsure whether to rely on one of the many “cloud” services available today or an external hard drive?
The answer? Both.
Consider an online and offline solution — to protect all the documents, photos and other files on all your computing devices — as they each have their distinct benefits and drawbacks. Find out the reasons why you should consider both types of storage options.

Cloud backup

Offsite protection
Cloud services — such as OneDrive, iCloud, Google Drive, Dropbox and Box — can protect your data from local threats, such as theft, fire, flood, nasty virus, power surge and hard drive failure. If someone steals your laptop, they might take your hard drive, too, unless you store it elsewhere; a flood or fire could destroy both your computer and hard drive if kept in the same place.

Anywhere access
With cloud services, you can access all of your backed-up stuff – such as documents or media — from virtually any Internet-connected computer, tablet or smartphone in the world. Most cloud services have free apps that make it easy to download or upload files from your mobile device. As long as you can get online, you can access your stuff anywhere and on virtually any device.

Sharing is super easy
Cloud computing can also reduce congestion in someone’s inbox. Rather than trying to e-mail a number of large photos or videos to a colleague or family member, which can clog up their inbox, you can simply store them in the cloud and send a link to download the goods. This is incredibly convenient, and easy to do.

It’s free
Consumer-based cloud computing services typically give you between 10 and 15 gigabytes of storage for free (less for Dropbox). This is ample for most users. In fact, you can create and use multiple accounts, if you like, each with a few gigabytes, making it easy to triple or quadruple your allotted storage. There are pricier corporate solutions, too, if you need them.

Hard drive

It’s offline
Cloud services are online-only, therefore if you don’t have an Internet connection (or if it goes down), you could be without your data. This isn’t the case with an external hard drive, of course. Cloud services require a lot of faith in the fact that you’ll have an “always on” connection, anywhere and anytime — even while flying the friendly skies.

Ample storage
Rather than only getting a few gigabytes of free storage, per account, external hard drives are often measured in terabytes (TB) – more than 1,000 gigabytes (and you can get a 1TB external drive for under $60 these days). If you’re a digital packrat who downloads and stores a ton of music, movies, TV shows and photos, you’ll need more capacity than what free cloud storage solutions offer.

Is your data safe?
While cloud storage protects your data from local threats, it doesn’t mean you’re home free. It’s not impossible for someone to guess your password to gain entry. And it doesn’t mean your data can’t be hacked either. Plus, how well do you trust the company you’re giving your data to? Do you know where your data is being physically stored?

Easy backup
While a couple of cloud services offer an auto-backup feature, more hard drives have software that can perform scheduled or one-click backup of all your important files. Or, with the Clickfree-branded drives, you don’t need to click anything – just plug it into your computer and let it find and back-up all your important files for you. Offline backup is also much faster than cloud storage – especially with USB 3.0, SATA, FireWire and Thunderbolt drives.