Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

The Easy Way to Store Backups on Multiple Online Services

I admit that that I am a backup fanatic. I will suggest that having backups of your important data can be a lifesaver.

I believe that everyone should have a MINIMUM of three copies of every digital file that is important: the original file stored in the computer’s hard drive, plus a copy of that file stored on a backup device (hard drive, flashdrive, CD-ROM disk, or whatever you choose) that is stored near the computer for convenience, PLUS AN ADDITIONAL copy or two, stored off-site where the copies will be safe from in-home disasters, such as fire, flood, or burst water pipes.

Three copies are a barebones MINIMUM. For safety, I would recommend even more copies be kept in more locations. Luckily, that is easy to do.

The popular method of making off-site copies of important files is to use a file storage service “in the cloud.” Examples include Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Drive, Apple iCloud, Amazon S3, Amazon Glacier,, Microsoft OneDrive, Amazon Cloud Drive, and numerous others.

Of course, it is questionable if anyone can really depend on any one of these services. Any of the companies might have hardware or software difficulties that result in the loss of your data. Other possibilities include bankruptcy, a change in business services, or even a file storage service being bought out by a larger corporation that decides to change the services offered. In short, you do not want to place all your backup eggs in one (cloud-based) basket. Fortunately, you can easily “distribute your eggs amongst multiple baskets,” thereby minimizing the risks.

I would suggest that you keep copies of important files on MULTIPLE cloud-based services. Any one online service might disappear at any time due to any of the earlier mentioned reasons, but the odds of two or more of them becoming unavailable at the same time are slim. Using three, four, or more online services to store all of your important files reduces the risk even further. I keep one backup copy on media stored near my computer plus a backup copy on Dropbox plus a backup copy on Google Drive plus a backup copy on Microsoft OneDrive plus a backup copy on… Well, you get the idea: I keep backup copies in multiple locations in case one or two of those copies disappear unexpectedly.

L.O.C.K.S.S. is an abbreviation that stands for “Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe.” It should also be every computer user’s mantra.

Making backups to multiple online services can be awkward and tedious. Do you really want to take the time to copy each file to each of these services? Luckily, you don’t have to manually make separate backups to each and every online service. One low-cost service will automatically copy files from any one online file storage service to others, as you specify. It will even do that while you are sleeping. In fact, there are several programs that will make multiple backups for you, even while you are sleeping. Two of the bettrer programs I hav e cound are:

Tri-Backup for Macintosh

Macintosh users might want to look at Tri-Backup. It is a product with multiple purposes. Quuoting from the Tri-Backup web site:

Copy your disk: Create a bootable copy of your disk updated regularly and automatically. You can restart from the copy at any time and retrieve all your data and applications in your usual environment.
This function is also useful to change your startup disk or to duplicate an environment on multiple machines.

Clean Mac: Put your Mac in good condition by using a clean copy of your startup disk.You can directly restart from the clean copy or restore your internal disk.

Save your data: Tri-BACKUP automatically and regularly copies your files to one or more internal or external drives, on another machine, network, FTP server, etc.
You can multiply your backups to increase the security of your data.

Data recovery: If you lose your data, backups will be much more effective than any data recovery software. Think backup with Tri-BACKUP.

Transfers your data : Synchronize multiple machines, share files and group documents from multiple users, across a local network or through external drives, and you can even use systems like Dropbox updated by Tri-BACKUP.

Automate your backups: Let your backups run automatically in the background without disturbing you or slow down the use of your machine.
Programmed actions can be triggered at the time and frequency of your choice, or automatically executed when a disk is connected, or when you quit an application.

Compare and control: With the immediate actions of Tri-BACKUP, you compare the contents of two folders and you can control exactly what needs to be copied, synchronized or deleted.

Tri-Backup is available in two versions: a Standard Edition that has all of the above along with a Pro Version that adds specific functions such as backup to web server, control the actions from another machine, double checking of copy, or sending e-mail alerts (for example, to send email to an administrator when errors were detected, or to monitor the proper implementation of backups).

Tri-Backup Standard Edition sells for $69.99 U.S. (69.99 €) while the Pro Version sells for $99.99 U.S. (99.99 €).


The problem(s) with any one backup program

While Tri-Backup is a good product for Macintosh users, it does not meet all my needs. It should work well for anyone who owns a single Mac. However, I own two iMacs (one at home and one at the office), a MacBook Air, a Windows laptop that I use occasionally, an Android tablet, a cell phone, and various other computing gadgets. I have never found any one program that will install into all those systems and properly make multiple backups of each to multiple locations.

Even more important to me, how can I make sure I always have the latest version of all files on all computing devices? When I am at home, I ant to be able to work on the spreadsheet I was using at the office earlier today. When at a convention of some sort or even when at the airport, I may need to access the word processing document I created a year or two ago.

Luckily, there is an easy solution: use the cloud. I store all my important files on Google Drive. In fact, some time ago I moved all my files from the Documents folder (called My Documents on some systems) to the Google Drive folder. If you look at the Documents folder today on any of my systems you will see it is empty. Instead, all my documents are stored in the Google Drive folder. I could have used Dropbox or SugarSync or any of the other available cloud-based file storage service.

However, I am always worried that Google Drive or any other service I might choose could lose my data because of hardwware or software failures or because of a change in corporate policies or because of bankruptcy or for any of probably a dozen other reasons. Just because a company is safely storing my data today doesn’t mean that the files will be available when I need them months or years from now.


Again, there is a simple solution: L.O.C.K.S.S.

As I wrote before, L.O.C.K.S.S. is an abbreviation that stands for “Lots Of Copies Keep Stuff Safe.” It should also be every computer user’s mantra. Keeping lots of copies means keeping multiple copies locally on different hard drives, flash drives, CD-ROM disks and other local storage as well as keeping multiple copies in multiple services in the cloud. While any one online service might have hardware problems or suffer bankruptcy or other changes, the odds of ALL of them losing my data simultaneously are infinitesimal. If I back up my important files to several different online file storage services and also make multiple backup copies to keep at home and at the office, my data will be safe regardess of what happens.


CloudHQ for all systems

CloudHQ is an online service that will copy files to and from Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, OneDrive Pro, Gmail, Yandex Disk, SugarSync, Evernote, Box, Egnyte, Salesforce, SharePoint, and even to WebDAV (a method of creating logical disk drives in other computers). Making copies is done automatically by CloudHQ’s servers without human involvement. In fact, you can turn your computer off, and CloudHQ will continue to copy your saved files from one online storage service to the other online storage services that you specify. Obviously, you do need to have an account established on each of the online services you wish to use.

I now have my computers configured to automatically copy all my documents, pictures, videos, genealogy databases, email messages, and more to Google Drive. Every few minutes, CloudHQ then copies all newly-added items from Google Drive to Dropbox and to Microsoft OneDrive. In addition, all my Gmail messages are automatically copied to Dropbox and then, a few minutes later, those messages are also copied to Google Drive and to OneDrive. As if that wasn’t enough, all my notes in Evernote are automatically copied to Dropbox and then, a few minutes later, those notes are also copied to Google Drive and to OneDrive.

All this is in addition to the local backups I make to a portable hard drive sitting beside each of my desktop computers that is plugged directly into the computer’s USB connectors. Do you think my files are well protected?

CloudHQ is a commercial service that charges modest fees for copying the files. However, a FREE 15-trial is offered that provides the opportunity to try CloudHQ for a while without payment. If you decide to keep the service, the charge is $9.90 a month, discounted a bit to $99 per year if you pay for the year in advance. After using the free trial for a few days, I took advantage of the discount and paid for one year’s service.

CloudHQ’s lowest-priced service will copy UNLIMITED files from one online service to one or two other online services. Additional services can be used at higher prices although I suspect that option will appeal primarily to businesses, not to consumers. All pricing details may be found at

In my opinion, CloudHQ provides insurance at a modest fee. It saves additional copies of your important files in more and more locations, as you specify. Yes, having a backup copy saved someplace is a good idea. Having two backup copies stored in two different locations is a far better idea. Having three, four, or more copies stored in various locations is better still. CloudHQ easily provides that service.

About once a month, some blog reader sends me a message similar to this:

“I had a hard drive crash (or my laptop was stolen or my grandchild erased everything) and all my documents and files for the past 20 years were on that computer. I lost everything. What should I do?”

I have no easy answer to that question. Indeed, it is obvious what the person SHOULD have done prior to the loss, but there is no easy answer after the fact for the person who did not make regular backup copies. However, the entire problem is easily preventable. Think of it as insurance: you might never need it, but a bit of insurance prepares you for the possible future event when you might have to depend upon it.

Use of any one of the online file storage services provides insurance. Use of two or more online file storage services simply provides additional insurance. Using CloudHQ to make copies to multiple online services simply ensures that the job gets done on a steady basis, whether or not you think of it.

You can learn more about CloudHQ at

Categories: Online Privacy & Security

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