How to Backup Your Files Online for Free

A few years ago if you wanted to backup any important files or pictures you would either buy an expensive external hard drive or get a stack of CD’s and painstakingly load a handful of files onto each disc. It is a whole different ballgame now.

Today, there are a variety of companies that offer online backup of your computer and important files and documents for a monthly fee. Companies like Mozy, Carbonite and many others make it possible to backup your files online in the cloud and access them from other computers and devices. These websites are great for many people, but I have a problem with them; they cost money.

So in this hub I want to share with you how to backup your important files, documents and pictures online, for free.

Dropbox is accessible through your phone and computer
Dropbox is accessible through your phone and computer | Source

What is Online or Cloud Storage?

For those who might not know, online or cloud storage means the files or data are stored on multiple virtual servers which can be accessed through the internet. What this means is that you can save a copy of your important files online, and if your computer crashes, access the files from any other device.

The Blue Screen of Death - it can happen to anyone
The Blue Screen of Death - it can happen to anyone | Source

Why backup important documents online?

You might be asking, ‘Why do I need to backup my documents online?’

Well, the answer is similar to why you need to wear a seatbelt (except there is no law requiring you to backup your computer online): it is all a precaution in case something bad happens. In the same way that you never plan on getting into an accident, most people don’t plan on their computer crashing, getting stolen, or just blowing up.

Again, you might say, ‘Hey, I’ve got an extra stack of CD’s handy, why not just use those?’ Two reasons: First, if you lose that stack of CD’s (or external hard drive or other devices), then you’re out of luck. Second, that’s so old! Stop living in the past.

Google Drive Logo
Google Drive Logo
Dropbox Logo
Dropbox Logo

How to Backup your Computer Online for Free

To begin backing up your files online, choose a company you want to use. I would suggest Google Drive, Windows SkyDrive, DropBox or SugarSync (See linksà).

Google Drive and Windows SkyDrive

Google Drive and Windows SkyDrive would be my first two suggestions. Each offers 5Gb or more of free storage space and each are easy to setup and use.

If you have an email account with Gmail or Outlook then it is very simple to setup your online storage. If you don’t have an account, I strongly recommend signing up for one or both, because you can never have too many email addresses or gigabytes of free online storage.

For Google Drive: Once you are logged in to your Gmail account, go to the Google Docs section and there will be an option to set up your Google drive. Follow the steps, download the drive to your desktop, and then you are ready to start moving files into it.

For Windows SkyDrive: Now that you are logged in for your Outlook (or Hotmail!) account, click the down arrow next to the Outlook logo and select SkyDrive from the drop down menu. Set up is very similar to Google Drive, just download the SkyDrive folder to your desktop and you are ready to start backing up files.

If you choose to use DropBox or SugarSync, all you need to do is create an account, and then you can download their folders to your desktop.

Of course, you can also upload any files, documents or pictures online on each website which allows you to work on one computer, upload your file, and then access it online from another computer.

There are many other online storage companies besides the ones I mentioned here. Amazon, for example, offers cloud storage for your files as well as any music you purchase from them. The key is to avoid paying for backing up your files, because there are plenty of free websites available.

Is Online Storage Secure?

I look at it this way, if I trust Google and Windows with all my personal Emails, then it shouldn't be a problem trusting them with backup documents and pictures. But it is up to you to decide.

What to Backup from Your Computer

Anything you would miss if you lost it should be backed up online. This could be pictures, important documents, ideas for articles, records, or anything else. The possibilities are endless, but it is important to do it today, because you just don’t know when your computer might fail. What you might have trouble with are trying to store lots of music or downloaded movies. These tend to take up a lot of space, so you will use up your free online storage space quickly.

Options and Features

Both Google Drive and MS SkyDrive offer plenty of other options and features
Both Google Drive and MS SkyDrive offer plenty of other options and features

Other Uses for Cloud Storage

There are several other uses for online storage besides backing up your files. One popular use is to sync files between multiple computers or devices. If you do a lot of work on multiple computers, it might get tiring trying to email it to yourself, or put it on a thumbdrive. Cloud storage allows you to save files online, and then access them from your phone or other computers.

Another great use for online storage is for sharing large files or pictures with friends and family. This allows others to view, edit or add to the files or pictures quickly and easily. This is also useful for group collaborations or school projects.

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Comments 12 comments

neophonic profile image

neophonic 4 years ago from Europe

Very nice article for beginners. There is also service called http://www.spideroak.com , but im still a lucky DropBox user with my colleagues. DropBox is very good solution for teams even in free plan. Kinda interesting egg is that we played with my friend on college a SimCity 4 together via sharing User Game Folder in Documents via DropBox. SimCity 4 doesnt have multiplayer, but this was so nice :)


internpete profile image

internpete 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida Author

neophonic - Thanks for sharing about SpiderOak, it looks good too! That's great about playing simcity4 'multiplayer'. Dropbox is very useful for that type of thing! Thanks for your comment!


The Frog Prince profile image

The Frog Prince 4 years ago from Arlington, TX

Excellent info.

The Frog


internpete profile image

internpete 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida Author

The Frog Prince - Thanks!


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I am glad you put in the section about security. It is a great free online backup option, but the security is of concern for me. I think it may be worth the risk. Great hub!


internpete profile image

internpete 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida Author

teaches12345 - Thank you for reading and leaving a comment! Yes, it is very important to keep security in mind. But as I mentioned in the hub, if you already trust google with email, adsense and other things, then I think it is ok to upload files. Just don't upload anything incredibly valuable or sensitive!


dwachira profile image

dwachira 4 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

Moving toward paperless offices means a lot of documents and files will be backup online. I expect cloud computing needs and service to be a primary need for many businesses for years to come. Great article, voted up and useful.


internpete profile image

internpete 4 years ago from At the Beach in Florida Author

dwachira - Thanks for your comment and I certainly agree, more and more activities are done paperless because of the cost savings and ease of use.


Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok 3 years ago from Long Island, NY

I might still be living in the past because I don't trust online backup. I'd be worried about hackers getting access to my files in the cloud. But I do realize the advantage of this compared to using our own external storage techniques. I presently use a 1 TB external hard drive which I connect to a USB port. I agree with you that we could lose this drive too. But my theory is that the chances are slim that both the external drive and the computer will crash at the same time. By the way, I don't store the external drive in the same place where I have my computer.

With the advancements in security features I am sure that cloud storage will eventually be a better alternative. But it's hard for me to trust storing files that may contain vital information such as Social Security numbers and credit card numbers in the cloud.

Nevertheless, I found a lot of useful information in your hub. It's nice to know there are free alternatives to try. Voted up and useful.


internpete profile image

internpete 3 years ago from At the Beach in Florida Author

Glenn Stok - The security questions you bring up are a good point. And to be honest, I don't know how secure online storage or cloud storage is. However, I imagine it must be very good, otherwise the companies that offer the cloud storage such as Microsoft and Google, would be in very hot water. I think it is a great idea to have an external hard drive for any sensitive information. I typically use online storage for pictures, non-sensitive documents and anything else that I want to backup, but would not be too concerned if it were released on the internet. Thanks for your comment!


ib radmasters profile image

ib radmasters 3 years ago from Southern California

It has been reported that google scans your google emails for among other things to advertise to you.

How can you trust them with you private document, especially when it is free?

Thanks


internpete profile image

internpete 3 years ago from At the Beach in Florida Author

ib radmasters - people 'report' a lot of hings, and if we all believed everything that was 'reported' we would be in a lot of trouble. The way Google 'scans' emails is just to pick out keywords, which it then uses for more targeted marketing. They don't actually record the emails, that's what the government is for....

Anyway, in the end you will have to choose for yourself whether you trust Google's email or online storage, but I would rather trust them than 'reports'. Thanks for your comment!

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