What are your thoughts about using dropbox as a simple, cheap backup product or do I misunderstand it?

I was helping an older aunt today. She has 400MB of files in her my docs folder. Not much size wise, but lots of small files she wouldn't want to lose.

I talked about how she should backup her data, but it was over her head. I know win 7 can do backup natively, but then you need the external hard drive or get the data offsite, monitor the backups (they could stop working and you likely won't know it?).

THen I thought of dropbox. Install it on her machine, there's a hack / tweak to set the folder location (change it to c:\users\username\documents (or use the username as the root and only backup desktop, favorites, docs, pics, etc.).

as long as you keep it under 2 GB it is completely free.

Thoughts on doing that to be able to know her files are protected?
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Dropbox will work fine for this purpose, but you may want to consider Cubby from the LogMeIn folks:
https://www.cubby.com/

It's also free (for up to 5GB) and it doesn't require any hack/tweak to set the folder location. You simply right-click on a folder and select the menu pick that says "Make this folder a cubby" (which, by default, will include all of its subfolders). Do this on your aunt's My Documents folder and that will protect her files. Regards, Joe
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Daniel HelgenbergerCommented:
Dropbox works fine, the same is true for MS SkyDrive and Google Dive of course. As of this writing I would recommend Google drive, as you get the most space for free there.

But of course you need to protect your Data there! Consider using it in conjunction with TrueCrypt for instance.

If so, it is imported to use this with the clients provided by DB or Google Drive, since thy are capable to sync only changed blocks of large files and to better yet to split your TrueCrypt volume into multiple small files.
http://diggfreeware.com/the-best-way-to-use-dropbox-in-conjunction-with-truecrypt/
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nobusCommented:
well - if they have lots of pictures and music, the few GB's will be filled fast.
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
nobus,
The original question says the total size is just 400MB. Regards, Joe
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nobusCommented:
even then - 2GB = 5 backups
5Gb = 10 -12 backups
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
But a cloud-based backup (Box, Carbonite, Cubby, Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, et al.) typically uploads just new and modified files. That's why the first backup can take a really long time, but after that, it's pretty fast, since the size of new/changed files is relatively small.
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terencinoCommented:
Hi, well done looking after your aunt! Dropbox is Ok for syncing but I would not rely on it for backup, especially for the seniors I work with. What if your aunt fears the all-knowing Cloud, and thinks some criminal is hacking her data to steal her identity? What if your aunt accidentally deleted her files before she went on a month's holiday? By the time she got back Dropbox's 30-day recovery window would have expired, and her files gone forever. A better option for backup is CrashPlan Free. It has no cloud space allowance, but it focuses much better on where you put the data --- on an external drive or USB flash disk, on a PC on her local network, or on a trusted nephew's PC over the internet. Securely encrypted of course, so no-one can see it. And it won't ever delete the files by default (you can change the retention settings though). And it isn't limited to a single source folder, you can pick any or all files and folders on the PC. Overall, a more flexible backup solution for your aunt.

I have Dropbox, Google Apps, SkyDrive, Box, Egnyte, SugarSync, Wuala, iCloud, I just got a 20GB free account on Copy to try out, and I'm also going to check out Cubby recommended by joewinograd before. These products are all great at file syncing and collaboration, and they are not advertised as a genuine backup option. iCloud does very specific brilliant work backing up iDevices. But I have the CrashPlan Pro E enterprise version installed on my servers, and it's the cheapest and best backup protection I have ever had.

Hope that helps
...Terry
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terencinoCommented:
Actually I see now that Cubby won't delete the files either, with unlimited versioning. So +1 to Cubby too. Nice product joewinograd, thanks for the tip
...Terry
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
thanks. not sure if I am thinking the same thing as nobus (and others?).  not backing up to drobox or others, but rather, my docs IS the dropbox folder.  Dropbox (and the others mentioned?) let you retrieve previous versions and would mirror the current data, right?  Can't easily restore all data from a certain earlier date, but it's free.

So I only know dropbox. Are the others the same except for amount of storage? Files are local, automatically backed up to cloud, if you install the app on another machine and use same login / account, the files are downloaded to that other machine?

so other than amount of storage and if you are going to pay, how much you get for a certain price, how do you tell these apart?  Don't need apps for mac or mobile devices. just windows and just simple process.
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BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelpAuthor Commented:
re crashplan free - I'll look at it, but don't want to be the one storing the backups for her... no offense, but I have enough things running on my pc.

and I had a big issue with crashplan the company and how inept they are. products may be good, but I had complaint and corporate was totally disinterested.
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terencinoCommented:
Yes I've has similar experience with CrashPlan corporate over subscriptions and migrations and a few other things, that's an appropriate warning...

By the way is your aunt's email also in My Documents?
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BillDLCommented:
@terencino
"... on a trusted nephew's PC over the internet"
I had been thinking the same thing myself.

I installed a 2nd hard drive on my elderly Father's PC and a small backup program that runs daily and replicates his "My Documents" to a similar folder structure.  It creates and maintains one backup copy of the master folder there first before it runs and overwrites the old with the new.  He is a creature of habit, so it was easy to schedule at a time I know he is always on the PC, and being incremental is only takes a couple of minutes to run.  Each time I visit (usually once a week) I make a quick copy of the folders on the 2nd hard drive to my own USB Flash Drive.

Of course, this is a tower PC case with space for a 2nd hard drive.  Had it been a laptop, I would have instead scheduled a small program that I wrote to prompt for insertion of a USB Flash Drive before running the file copy, and then "safely eject" the Flash Drive once done.
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
Terry,
You're welcome. The free version works very well, and they have a promotion going on ("for a limited time", whatever that means) for the Pro version...just $3.99/month, pre-paid annually, which is more than 40% off the "regular" price of $6.99/month. The Pro version has these features:

100 GB cloud storage
DirectSync unlimited syncing without the cloud
Cubby Locks advanced security
Shared storage with multi-user accounts

I haven't looked into the last three features, so don't know how valuable they are, but the 100 GB by itself will be worth the price of admission for some folks. Regards, Joe
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nobusCommented:
>>  But a cloud-based backup (Box, Carbonite, Cubby, Dropbox, Google Drive, SkyDrive, et al.) typically uploads just new and modified files.  <<  i agree Joe.
but if anything goes wrong, then you have ,nothing; that's why i put a full back next to the incremental one, for safety - that already makes 2
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BillDLCommented:
Thank you BeGentleWithMe-INeedHelp
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
but if anything goes wrong, then you have ,nothing; that's why i put a full back next to the incremental one, for safety - that already makes 2
nobus,

I hear you on that, but I've worked with many "older aunt" type users over the years and it's often challenging to put in place a backup methodology that can be followed easily...and on a regular basis. Folks like you and me do full backups, differential/incremental backups, clones/images, backups on rotating media, backups on non-rotating media, offsite backups, ad nauseam. Most of this doesn't work well for the non-savvy user and I think that the asker had a good idea of an automated sync to the cloud. It's not perfect, and one can postulate ways it which it will fail, but it's a whole lot better than no backups at all, and it's amazing how many users have exactly that...no backups at all!

If I were the asker, I'd be tempted to augment the cloud backup with a high-capacity SD card and/or a NAS (in both cases, storage that is always available...doesn't have to be connected each time a backup is done) and use a backup product like SyncBack to schedule automated, periodic backups via the Task Scheduler, but I've seen push-back on ideas like that from the "older aunt" type users. Regards, Joe
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nobusCommented:
i could not agree more, joe.
only one point : lastly i tried to set up the free Syncback, but i was not able to get it working for me, so i had to revert to Genie backup (it was difficult to set up)
i must say, i had not much time to look for a manual, but it certainly is not "for dummies"
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Joe Winograd, Fellow&MVEDeveloperCommented:
nobus,
It's been a long time since I first set up SyncBack, although I do remember a learning curve (I switched from a similar utility called Second Copy). But after a while I got the hang of it and now setting up a backup profile is straightforward. I've never used SyncBackFree (started out with SyncBackSE and then upgraded to SyncBackPro), but the UI is probably the same. Here's a comparison table for all three versions:
http://www.2brightsparks.com/syncback/compare.html

If you want to give SyncBackFree another spin, I'll be happy to help you set it up. Either post here or drop me an email. Regards, Joe
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nobusCommented:
very kind of you Joe. it will be remembered. (smiley)
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