Computer backup programs can be broadly categorized into local solutions (for burning CDs or synchronizing data from a laptop to an external disk) and web-based solutions (for uploading files to backup servers). Here I’ll show you how both of these approaches compare to each other.
The easiest backup utility which most PC owners will be able to use is burning a CD. It is more common however these days to use synchronization software along with an external HDD to clone files from computer to disk. These types of local duplication systems allow you complete control over which files are backed up, the flexibility of reusing the hardware and can prove to be faster for doing the backups and restoring files. Many computer backup programs for synchronizing data are free (e.g. SyncToy) so you only need to purchase a hard drive to get set up.
The major drawback with local computer backup programs is that you have to manually run them. Many utilities cannot be automated to backup files continuously or on a scheduled basis so the process can easily be forgotten about.
Web-based computer backup programs try to work around this issue. Most commercial backup services provide you with a client application you install on your computer. This backup utility is initially configured to select which files to upload and set a frequency for doing the backups. The application then completely automates your backup process whenever you’re connected to the Internet. This provides an invaluable solution for anyone traveling with a laptop just so long as they have a fast Internet connection available.
The downside however is that there are data limits to the quantity of files to be uploaded (sometimes as low as 1 GB) and you also have to factor in the monthly subscription costs which would make this method much more expensive than local backups in the long run.