Kerrin has asked me to discuss Dropbox because he has heard quite a few people suggest that they don’t need a backup system because they’re using Dropbox, or that they’re using Dropbox as their backup system. So today I’m going to discuss why this is a very bad idea.
Dropbox is syncing software. It’s purpose is to keep a copy of the files that you tell it to sync in your Cloud folder so that you can access them from anywhere. As you update these files via your various devices they are also updated in Dropbox. Hopefully you’ve already spotted two serious problems with relying on this system for backing up your computer:
- Dropbox will only sync the files and folders that you’ve told it to sync. Are you certain that know where every important file is located on your computer? This is a particular problem for businesses where the data is extremely valuable and there is probably a lot of it. It’s not designed to sync your whole computer – there’s just not enough space for that.
- Dropbox does not know the difference between deliberate changes and mistakes/ files errors. If a particular document becomes corrupted on one of your devices, Dropbox will sync the corrupted version. If you accidentally delete a file then Dropbox will also delete it. You will have 30 days to realise and retrieve it but after that it’s gone.
So really the only scenarios in which Dropbox will work as a back up would be if your computer suddenly stopped working or was stolen, and even then, you would have to have everything you need selected to be synced. Here are some other scenarios in which using Dropbox as a backup would leave you out of luck:
- Your computer is infected with a virus or malware which corrupts your files.
- You accidentally delete something important without immediately realising.
- A former employee decides to sabotage your data or delete all ‘their’ files when they leave.
- The power goes out while you’re saving a file or your hard drive or data storage device fails, corrupting files.
So what should you do instead?
This really depends on your situation. How much data do you have? How important are your files and data? Businesses need to have a high level solution to this – many are using Microsoft 365 and SharePoint now which is similar in that it’s Cloud based but it has specific solutions to the above problems that Dropbox has. There is software available for carrying out automatic back ups. You could also set up a physical back up system using an external hard drive or drives, or a NAS system.
If you’re aware that your back up system is insufficient (or non-existent) please talk to us ASAP about the best options for sorting this out. It’s heartbreaking to lose all your photos and can be business-breaking to lose all your company information and records.