Here’s what may be a great solution to the backup problem. I’ve never had a backup crackup myself, but picture it: all your records are on your computer, but your hard drive crashes. Ayeeeee! No problem? You are faithfully backing up to floppies every night? How do you think floppies hold up in a fire?

Many of you are far more computer literate and/or adventuresome than I, but for those who are not, I’d suggest your checking out and downloading the software and taking the free trial month. You don’t even have to give them your credit card unless and until you decide — as I did — to become a customer.

The basic cost is $15 a month, so it’s clearly cheaper to back up to floppies (which I do occasionally anyway) and then store those floppies under the cushion of the diner where you have lunch every day. Unless the whole town burns down, you should be OK.

But the advantages of are two or three or four. Maybe five.

  • First, you can set it up so that it automatically backs up your data files every night when you’re asleep, or just Tuesday and Friday — whatever. Or you can do what I do: set it to remind you every time you leave Windows, so you can decide whether or not you want to do a backup. In short, if you’re someone who knows he should back up often but never does (you know who you are!), this solves the problem.
  • Second, your data gets stored so far “off-site” that the fire would have to be of the Armageddon variety to destroy both your hard drive and theirs at the same time.
  • Third, they have the capacity to send you back your data on a CD, which is a roundabout way of getting all your files onto a CD — and also a comfort if they should ever go out of business. Presumably, they’d at least do it gracefully enough to allow you to get a copy of all the data you had stored.
  • Fourth, if you travel with a laptop, as I do, you can access your “backups” without having to fly home and grab the floppies from your drawer.
  • Fifth, maybe you have a small group of whomever — a club, a family, a small business, a cult — and your mind glazes at the thought of installing a transglobal network. Well, if you give each member the encryption password, each will be able to access any or all of your/their backed up files.

The main drawback I see is cost — it will be $15 a month or more, so it’s not for people on a shoestring. (And even with this neat service, I still plan to back up to floppies once in awhile and print out my annual financial stuff at tax time each year.) Speed is another issue, but at 28.8, a great deal of data can be backed up in a fairly short time. After your first backup, only files you’ve changed get uploaded.

As between this system and a Zip or a Jazz drive (from Iomega), I prefer this. The 100-megabyte Zips almost became part of my life, except that I seemed to experience an occasional glitch — undoubtedly my fault. I just remember feeling inadequate and frustrated a few times. I may still pull them back out and start using them again. The Jazz drives, which store a billion bytes on a single chunky (if you’ve seen the little sucker, you know what I mean), are even more astonishing. But only after I bought two, one for each place, did I realize that, unlike the Zips, they require a Scuzzy card, installation, etc. — and at $500 each, well, I was pleased to return them for credit and buy an amazing new digital camera instead.

Anyone who follows this column regularly knows that neither my financial advice nor my computer advice is guaranteed to be anything more than enthusiastic. Still, I thought some of you might want to experiment with the free trial. Problems? Questions? I got through to Connected’s customer support on two rings each time I tried: 800-647-3078. (Of course, they hadn’t just been written up in my column that morning.)



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