December 26, 2006
Online backups are a great idea that simply isn’t practical for home users. The problem is that upload speeds are dreadfully slow. My cable modem from Comcast delivers 50KB/sec upload speed; therefore, it takes 6 hours to upload 1GB. My 160GB drives would take 40 days to completely upload. People would not be willing to send a snapshot of their drives on DVDs to initialize a backup because it’s a lot of work. My drives on double-layer DVDs (8GB) would take 20 disks. Instead, online backups are great for criticaldata: financial records, code repositories, and favorite family photos. The UI for online backup tools must encourage users to tag their most important files, which may be too much work for those with disorganized drives. Without support from the filesystem and/or applications, there’s no easy way for users to select the files they want to backup.
[actually, I’m only getting 17KB/sec upload using ElephantDrive, which triples the times in this post: 18 hours to backup 1 GB.]