Don’t let online backups choke your internet connection
You don’t need super-fast broadband to backup your files to the cloud, but it pays to tweak a few settings.
If you’re trying to protect irreplaceable files like family photos then it’s important to have “offsite” backup stored away from home. Backing up to a USB stick or Network Attached Storage drive isn’t enough, as a home disaster like fire, flood or theft could claim all your gadgets and your onsite backups.
One option is to regularly copy your photos to a disc or USB stick and store it elsewhere, maybe at a friend’s house or in your desk drawer at work. Of course you need to be vigilant for this to be reliable. If you’re looking for something more set ‘n’ forget then automatically backing up your files to the cloud might be a better option – installing something like Google Drive, OneDrive or Dropbox on your computer.
The trouble with online backup software is that it tries to upload your files as fast as possible. This might seem like a good thing, but when it hits your maximum home upload speed it can totally choke your internet connection – uploads and downloads – so web surfing, email and everything else grinds to a halt.
Thankfully most cloud backup software lets you dip into the advanced settings and limit its maximum upload speed. Restricting it to roughly 25 percent of your home upload speed will limit the impact that backups have on your other online activities.
If you’re unsure of your home upload speed, run a test from home at speedtest.net. Make sure that online backups and other bandwidth-hungry apps aren’t running in the background when you run the test.
Throttling your backup speeds obviously means that your backups will take longer to upload. This shouldn’t matter if they can happily run in the background while you do other things – especially if you’re just making incremental backups of recently created or modified files. Your very first backup will take a long time, maybe days or weeks, so you might find it easier to run that initial backup overnight so you can release the throttle without interrupting anyone’s internet usage.
If you’re still struggling to get through your incremental backups each day then think about changing the frequency of your backups. It might be worth scheduling your incremental backups to only run unthrottled at night, using Scheduled Tasks to wake your computer. You might also create several backup schedules, backing up some items more often than others.
If you need this kind of flexibility then you might need to look to dedicated backup services like CrashPlan, Mozy, Carbonite and JungleDisk. They offer a lot more advanced scheduling features than the likes of Google Drive.
It’s worth experimenting with a few backup services, working with a small folder of files and testing the advanced features, before you fully commit. Uploading all your files to a new service is a hassle, so choose wisely before you take the plunge.