Grid Computing, Backups and Hurricanes


A while ago I had written an article about web hosting data center operators preparing for hurricanes. You can read a copy here:

So now we are once again in the throws of hurricane season with the latest hurricance – named Gustav – poised to hit the Gulf coast almost exactly three years after Katrina hit New Orleans. This event brings to light an important but often overlooked aspect of online life: backing up your data.

So we all know that we should backup our data. If you work for a web hosting company then you know all too well the scenario where a site owner suffers catastrophe – only to then learn that the site data was insufficiently backed up.

I had a similar situation arise recently where my laptop was malfunctioning, and I realized that I hadn’t recently backed up my data. In reviewing my backup options and talking with some more technically minded friends who work for the VPS hosting experts at, I came across a solution that I had not considered before (possibly because it wasn’t yet available): backing up my data to the ‘cloud’ through grid computing.

It turns out that Amazon S3 (Amazon’s grid computing offering) charges just $0.15/GB per month – that’s 15 cents per gig of data – to store whatever you choose to keep there. Additionally, you can access the data from any computer with Internet access – anywhere on the planet.

The mechanics of this – while not exactly rocket science – are not trivial either at this point. One needs an intermidiary piece of software to handle the mechnics of the backups and restore. You can read all the technical details of one person’s solution using S3 as a backup here:

So why not just hang a USB drive off your laptop and back up to that? Well, first of all there is the cost. A decent hard drive costs over $100. If you need to travel and have access to the backups then there is the additional hassle and weight of taking the external hard drive with you.

Whatever the solution you choose – remember to back up your data early and often.

Categories : Features

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