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The pros and cons of online cloud backup services for mobile devices

Are online cloud backup services viable for backing up mobile devices?

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As each generation of mobile devices gets more storage space and an increasing ability to display more types of information, the potential for data loss is inevitable. As a result, mobile device backup is becoming more and more important.

Laptops and home desktops are at the top of the viability list for online cloud backup. There are many online cloud backup providers. There are well-known companies like EMC Corp. Mozy, Amazon or Google and some that maybe you haven't heard of like Box.net and Windows Live Mesh.

But, are these cloud backup services viable for cell phones and PDAs/smartphones? Well, the more we download and edit files on them, the more they become mobile islands of data. It's true you can sync these devices to your PC and then just back up the PC. But for those of us who lack the discipline to sync our device, maybe there's a better way.

AT&T has had mobile device backup for quite a while and so does Sprint, however, this is just to protect your contacts and restore them in the always untimely event that you drop your device in a puddle. Apple's MobileMe is a service that looks more like online cloud backup, with 20 GB of online space. But it's really is more than a cloud backup service. MobileMe is centered on document sharing and online access to your data, and it also works great for data protection.

As with all online cloud backup services, you need to consider a few things. What's your exit strategy if decide to end the service? Or, if you have a total device failure, how will you re-sync to your new device and how long will it take? I see these as issues you'll need to understand when considering a cloud provider.

Using online cloud backup is viable for mobile devices. I'd like to see more services like Apple's MobileMe offered as a personal data protection and online sharing service.

This was first published in September 2010

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