Information Technology Reference
In-Depth Information
Cloud Cover Increases
Online backups are an increasingly interesting option, thanks to
improvements in infrastructure and service offerings. At the same
time, frustratingly low data caps imposed by Internet service providers
have become more prevalent, erasing part of that advantage if you
connect through one of those providers.
Cloud-based syncing expands. The popularity of Dropbox (see
the sidebar Dropbox, the Almost-Backup Service , ahead) and
similar services that mirror the contents of specified folders to the
cloud—and from there keep them in sync across all your devices—is
growing by leaps and bounds. One consequence of this trend is that
restoring data after a disk malfunction or other problem can often
happen without resorting to conventional backups. See the sidebar
Cloud Sync and File Restoration for more on this.
Broadband marches steadily on. More and more people have
broadband Internet connections at home, and ultra-fast fiber
service has become available in new areas. This makes online
backups more viable in some cases. However, most people who
already had broadband access haven't seen any increase in speed,
and upload speeds remain relatively low across the board, as most
consumers and providers are mainly concerned about downstream
bandwidth, primarily for streaming video. (Even so, you might
consider contacting your ISP to see if any new options exist—
sometimes you can significantly increase your bandwidth for only
a modest additional fee.)
Data caps have their ups and downs. An increasing number
of ISPs—including AT&T and Comcast in the United States—now
impose data caps, meaning you can transfer only a set amount of
data per month; once you exceed that, you may experience any or
all of the following consequences: drastically reduced bandwidth,
onerous per-gigabyte overage charges, or even termination of your
service (typically, after one or two warnings). You can often raise
your monthly limit by buying a more-expensive plan, but in some
cases the cost of top-tier plans is outrageous.
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