Offline vs. Online Backups - Which is Better?

Offline vs. Online Backups – Which is Better?

There has been a lot of debate lately about “living in the cloud” and whether to keep data and applications locally or stored out on the Internet with backup services like Mozy or Carbonite.

Which is better for backing up your documents?

Online Backup


  • The data is (hopefully!) encrypted
  • Depending on the service you use, you may be able to get to your files via the Internet which can be very handy
  • If you have a fire, flood, or theft, your backup is offsite so you don’t have to worry about it
  • Chances are, your backup provider will have a much more advanced setup than you do with respect to replication etc.


  • You don’t have direct control over your data
  • If your provider goes out of business, what happens to your data?
  • If you have a lot to upload, it could take a very long time to transfer the data
  • If your internet connection is down, so is your ability to backup/restore

Offline Backup


  • The data is totally in your control
  • Its on your network so access is fast
  • If it is a portable drive like a MyBook, you can take it to another location
  • You don’t have to worry about uptime/downtime or your internet connection.


  • If you have a fire or flood, your backup might be damaged along with your computer
  • If you have a theft, and have a portable hard drive, your backup could be stolen
  • Hard drives fail (boy do they), so depending on your setup your backup could bite the dust

After all that, which is better? It depends on your needs and how nervous you are about storing your data on someone else’s servers. Personally, I am a big fan of online backups but that is just me.

The good news is, you don’t have to pick one or the other. Back up your critical files to an external hard drive, and then also send your most critical files up to Mozy or Carbonite. The best of both worlds!

How do you do your backups (or do you? 🙂 ). Do you trust online providers? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 4 comments

Shyenne - June 11, 2012 Reply

Doesn't CrashPlan encrypt your information "before" it leaves your computer? I'd feel better about using a service, if I knew that my files would still be private.

    Brooks Duncan - June 11, 2012 Reply

    Yep Chyenne, that's exactly what it does. <p style=”color: #A0A0A8;”>

Brooks Duncan - March 17, 2009 Reply

@Sarah I responded to you in another post but wow, 300 gigs! That's a pretty impressive backup. I am totally with you for having both offline and online.

Sarah Banko - March 13, 2009 Reply

I use a Time Capsule at home (actually two) and for online backup. I used to use Mozy (or tried to) but it was terrible. After 4 months of paying them, i still wasn’t 25% of the way through my backup and their app hogged all my system resources making work miserable. Their customer service was also pretty terrible. Backblaze backed me up (all 300GB) in 14 days!

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