Google Backup is what I want for Christmas

Google Backup is what I want for Christmas

Summary: Google's Lenoir, North Carolina Data Center, seen during construction, could be one of several sites that could provide business continuity and peace of mind for netizens everywhere.


Google's Lenoir, North Carolina Data Center, seen during construction, could be one of several sites that could provide business continuity and peace of mind for netizens everywhere.

I've heard this story too many times.

"I got back from vacation and my computer crashed. I lost everything."

"Years of work were destroyed in one second. I had no backup."

"My backup media was years old... it was useless when I tried to perform a restore."

"I accidentally over-wrote my good backups with old backups. Now I'm screwed."

And so on. And so on.

I've tried, of course, to educate people on the subject of backups. But as they say, you can lead a reindeer to water, but you can't make him drink.

You can tell someone they need backups, but then there's the issue of backup discipline. You need to get them to install a backup solution, and then they have to be disciplined about keeping their backups up to date and in a safe place.

Also Read: kill the data loss monster once and for all

For enterprises, where business continuity is a major concern, that's not hard to do. But you'd be surprised how many end-users fly by the seat of their pants and "go commando", with nothing to protect them.

Large enterprises often use off-site backups in addition to locally replicated storage to protect their most important data. I'm of the opinion that this method is probably the safest strategy because it removes most of the Murphy's law concerns of having all of your eggs in one basket, aka in a single facility where external acts-of-God disaster scenarios (floods, fires, terrorism, etc) could destroy your secondary or even tertiary backups.

For end-users and small businesses, off-site backups are uncommon. Yes, there are several services out there such as Carbonite and Iron Mountain Connected Backup that will charge you a yearly fee (in Carbonite's case, $54.95) to replicate your critical data, automatically over the Internet, and store it for you.

In the event that you incur a data loss, they have a web-based GUI for restoring whatever you've lost. I've also recently heard some good things about Mozy, which is owned by storage giant EMC, and is comparable in cost to Carbonite.

Carbonite is definitely a good solution and so is Iron Mountain. However, with many users, sending data out to the cloud is an issue of trust as well as cost. Certainly, Iron Mountain is one of the biggest and most established names in the biz from a large enterprise standpoint, but their small biz and personal backup service is a bit pricey.

Carbonite is a LOT cheaper than Iron Mountain, by like a factor of 10 or higher, but they don't have the name cache or are a large company with huge amounts of back-end trustworthy infrastructure.

For Internet-based backup to become popular, a large player that is a household name needs to come into the picture. And in terms of the Internet, no other company worldwide has the brand recognition or the massive distributed infrastructure of Google.

Let's face it, if Google were to provide an Internet-based backup service, call it "ChromeVault" or "GStor" or whatever, a large group of the "I don't want/don't know how/don't trust Internet backup" folks would immediately shift to that service.

Not convinced? If the size of GMail's user base is any indication, and if only ten to twenty percent of that number were to start using that service, it would dwarf the size of Carbonite's and Iron Mountain's customer base overnight.

I think that it would behoove Google to snatch up an established player like Carbonite or to home-brew a backup service of their own.

Let's face it, a lot of people already use GMail for backup, but not in the way you'd traditionally work with an Internet-based backup service -- they email themselves their own critical files and documents. It's a kludgy, yet effective way of storing your important data. I keep probably 100 critical files in my GMail account, labeled under "Critical Documents".

What really is needed here is something that is integrated with Google Desktop, which already uses Google's cloud to allow you to index and search documents stored locally on your hard drive. In addition to local search services, it would include a backup agent that would have a wizard-based, easy to use program with a Web UI that would find critical files such as office documents, PDFs, and other user-designated critical directories and file types for sync to their Google account.

An intelligent agent of this type should also be able to distinguish the difference between various document types so that PDFs and Office files would get cataloged in Google Docs, and home videos and photos would get moved into private (or public) Picasa Web Album galleries.

The beauty of this cloud sync approach is that from a Google strategic perspective, it would accelerate the process of moving everyone to Chrome OS and towards the use of the cloud. If  all your key data is already backed up and stored in the Google cloud, then you've already populated your Chrome OS web-based environment with useful data.

Similarly, if I have my Android phone and am away from my computer(s), I can retrieve and view my critical data at any time, because my desktop agent is constantly syncing them when they change.

Currently, Google charges $50.00 a year for a 25GB GMail mailbox. While $50.00 for strictly mail is a good deal, I'd rather put that 25GB to more use than just mail. What I really want is a variable pricing structure for free (currently, Google is giving me 7.4GB for nothing) as well as paid 25GB, 50GB and 100GB+ accounts where I can flexibly store WHATEVER I want in the cloud, be it mail, critical office files, or my digital photos, from multiple machines and devices.

Google isn't the only company that could do this, of course. Any of the big Tier 1 system manufacturers, such as HP, Dell and Apple should be able to give their customers this sort of piece of mind and cloud storage flexibility.

Perhaps even Amazon, who has already built an elastic computing cloud and cloud storage infrastructure. Even traditional document management companies, such as Ricoh, with their  quanp service that is currently in late beta testing, are getting into the game of "Life Storage". And dare I say it, despite the recent T-Mobile Chernobyl, Microsoft in partnership with Yahoo should also be offering these "unified life storage and backup" services as well.

Do you want "Google Backup" for Christmas? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Google, Data Management, Storage


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • Its not that people wouldn't trust Internet backups

    its that (more and more) they're not trusting [i]Google[/i]

    years ago when they started growing, they could do no wrong, and everything they did was golden.

    Now read the posts, they seem to be pretty well split between not trusting Google's use of the data, or the fact that Google seems to have their fair share of outages and what not.

    Sorry, I'd let anyone other than Google hold my data for me, thank you.
    John Zern
    • Exactly

      No one trusts Google anymore. And to just blindly give your data away to them would be foolish. Their system would have a clause in the TOS that says any files stored on a Google server will become their property and they have the right to do whatever they want with it.

      What happens if the Google Backups crashes? Nothing because their employees won't care. Which leads us into what happens when your data stops getting backed up in 6 months because the Google employees don't care about it or the services and would rather play with office toys all day?? You just screwed yourself by going Google.
      Loverock Davidson
      • I... well... agree.... with YOU!

        Google has grown too strong, they will be another MS/Comcast soon.
        • What is Comcast?

          If it was that big (MS/Google-ish), why had I not heard of it?
      • Yup. "Crowdsourcing". Legal thievery of intellectual property.

        It's hard to own proper ownership if their POS TOS says they can do whatever they want with it, including selling it to others.

        Microsoft is a thousand million times more ethical.

        I never thought I'd say that...
    • "anyone other than Google"?

      Sure. So if I offered you a backup on my system, you would be OK with that?

      Look. I get that you do not like Google. Fine. That is your right and I am not going to argue. But ANYONE else? Your just lost ALL credibility by saying that, because it is so obviously a BS line.

      Edit: And it is of course significant that LD agrees with you, because virtually ALL his posts are nothing but BS lines.
      • I don't trust

        Anyone. Period.
        The one and only, Cylon Centurion
        • My thoughts exactlly.

          My backups are secure. More secure then even Google could do. and safe.

          I don't trust anyone beyond my setup, but if I [i]had[/i] to use an internet backup, it wouldn't be a google service.
          John Zern
          • Ditto, but.....

            an online BU with a "reputable" party, if I can encrypt EVERYTHING, might be of some interest. Heck, then I could use two different ones and probably be about as safe as you can get.

            There is some potential in the cloud IMHO, but I am not about to hand a copy of all my data to ANYONE, including Google.
    • "Now read the posts..."

      "Now read the posts, they seem to be pretty
      well split between not trusting Google's use of
      the data"

      And other people will surely read your post and
      draw the same conclusion. Then they will write
      posts of their own making the exact same
      argument. Then someone else will read their
      posts, and so on...

      ...and in the end we will have manufactured a
      truth out of absolutely nothing.
    • Heard It Before

      Google is the one to mistrust due to two main factors: 1. They are the Big Boy on the block, much like IBM once was and Microsoft for now., 2. Google is the most transparent company, due to it's size. (Not due to it's secretive business practices, which make it automatically suspect) Hard as you may try to ignore, sometimes you need a 800 pound online Gorilla that can open a Sam's Club pickle jar. It's hard to spank a Gorilla, but you can always see him.
      So be careful when you state your last sentence. Anybody else could steal your data, you seem to say, as long as it's not Google.
    • The Tinfoil Hat Brigade

      There's no better way to muster the Tinfoil Hat Brigade than to mention Google.
      • In your view.....

        who makes up most of this brigade, people who are just distrustful of Google or MS fanboys who feel threatened?
        • People in tin foil hats do...

      • Wikipedia as a credible source?!! You owe me a new keyboard

        I just sprayed sodie pop into it...

        To quell the masses, why not reprint their own terms of service to disprove any tinfoil hat nonsense, which was already done by someone else, and quite eloquently too:;col1

        Oh dear, their own TOS and their own wording speak for themselves.
  • (Tap tap....test. Is this Mic on?)


    Drag drop what you want backed up to your DropBox folder and that's all there is to it.

    It's a beautiful thing.
    D T Schmitz
    • How reliable is it?

      Dropbox doesn't offer the same degree of reliability and continuity that a company like Google does.

      Nevertheless, Dropbox is nice, ofcourse. It's great that they offer clients for many operating systems. But they can't offer the industrial grade reliability that Google can.
      • Seems rock solid.

        Haven't had an issue with it since I started using it earlier this year and everyone that I recommended to it loves it. Just save the file and forget.

        Google getting involved is interesting. I love their Picasa and gmail service.
    • Live Mesh does that too

      Microsoft Live Mesh gives those same kind of sync fesatures between Win, Mac, mobile, and also has remote desktop capability between them all.
      • another Live Mesh vote

        Almost everything you want is in Live Mesh, and it's by Microsoft.

        Of course, we have no idea how long Live Mesh will survive in its current form, and that's an issue.

        But you don't have to remember to back up files (just work from a Mesh folder), it's replicated both in the cloud and on any other PC you choose, and it's accessible from anywhere.