I have found an excellent way to back data up to the cloud with full security, and to do it for free. I have been looking for a solution to this problem for some time, and now I have found it.
Someday all data stored online probably will be encrypted for our protection, but as of now, there are few options, and fewer that are free.
The benefit of backing up to the cloud is this:
- You have an extra layer of protection against catastrophic data loss, even when due to fire or theft. Just yesterday a friend lost all un-backed-up data on a hard drive that stopped spinning. The cost of data recovery in such a case begins at $1000.
- If your computer is stolen, you may be able to remove your data from it.
- You will be able to sync data across multiple machines. So if you take your laptop on the road, for instance, you automatically have everything with you.
- Finally, you will be able to share files with others, by sending a link to an unencoded upload. Email uploads are encoded, which adds 33% to their size, which is a big deal for people with slow connections.
The procedure is two-fold. First, open an account with the storage service of your choice. Many like the Dropbox service. It is good, but I have found that SugarSync offers the best overall package. It includes a generous 5GB of free storage, and if you use this link, you will get an extra .5GB free (it will say 5GB but it’s actually 5.5, and it’s permanent). SugarSync will create a “Magic Briefcase” subfolder in your “My Documents” folder, that automatically syncs to the cloud, but you can add any folder you wish.
Now go to http://getsecretsync.com/ss/ and download SecretSync. Get Java with it if you don’t have it installed already (You’ll have a Java item listed in your Control Panel if it’s installed). Install SecretSync, and when it asks, point it to SugarSync’s Magic Briefcase folder. Choose a strong encryption key and store that key somewhere safely.
(Sidenote: I use and recommend the LastPass browser toolbar to store all passwords. Like SecretSync, it does so with local encryption, meaning your files are encrypted before they leave your machine. With a strong enough encryption key, no one but you can open them. And it works across mulitple browsers and multiple machines. You can also use LastPass to generate a secure encryption key for SecretSync, or you can find a website online that will do it for you.)
Now you will have two folders that sync: Magic Briefcase, and SecretSync. Place shortcuts to each of these on your desktop if they’re not already there, so you can open them or drag files to them easily.
SecretSync is free for the first 2GB of data, so use that folder freely under that limit. Or use it only for stuff that needs to be encrypted, and use the Magic Briefcase folder for everything else. Or you can buy more space in both SugarSync and SecretSync if your needs are greater.
Just take this one step at a time, at your own pace, and it’s easy to do. Now your data will be backed up automatically, and shared across all the machines you install these programs on. And your sensitive data will be encrypted.
The Internet no longer is a safe place, but its benefits are unprecedented, and we increasingly find ourselves reliant on it. Whether it’s hackers or government eavesdropping that is the concern, we need to take reasonable precautions. So back your data up for safety, and encrypt it for privacy.