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Online Backup Services and Synchronization: Do you Trust the Algorithm Not to Delete your Files and Pictures?

August 19, 2010DavidBackup, Utilities0

The large majority of people I know manage more than one machine, and often like to keep their data synchronized between these two machines. In my backup workflow, where my laptop is the primary originator of most of my data, I use Syncback Pro to make sure the data is correctly synchronized between my laptop and my desktop, and I then use SpiderOak’s online backup client (read my SpiderOak review here) to move the data from my desktop to their “zero-knowledge” backup servers.

I do it this way for a number of reasons:

1) Since I do sometimes move a lot of data, I’d rather let the desktop machine stay on for all of the time that’s required to upload the data to the online backup server. My laptop is great and reliable, but why put more burn on the laptop than needed.

2) While I do trust the zero-knowledge policy of SpiderOak (I refuse to use any online backup service that has direct access to my data), I don’t necessarily trust their synchronization feature. To be fair to SpiderOak, I haven’t found a backup service whose sync feature I do trust.

Most of these services seems to store versions of your data, but I’ve yet to see on that lets you do a true left/right synchronization check with approval. One of the big criticisms I have of some online backup services (other than the privacy part which I’ve covered at length in previous posts), is the functionality such that if I delete a file on my desktop, then the backup software will automatically delete the file on my backup. My problem here is that I don’t want anything on my backup account being deleted unless I explicitly allow it to be deleted. Furthermore, I don’t want to go hunting for versions of files that may or may not exist.

With my two-step system, I have 100% control of my synchronization and true certainty that my desktop files are exactly mirrored on my online backup. So for those of you who are using an online backup service — any online backup service — how do you handle synchronization and know for SURE that your data is being mirrored properly and that the service’s algorithm isn’t making decisions for you?

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