Are online backups worth it? How much are you paying per GB at home?
I’m pretty interested in the technical and financial aspects of storage and backups, so I decided to do a calculation estimate of what the cost per GB is for a typical home user. Then that number can be compared with the price of backup providers, to see what sort of deal you are getting from a company that specialises in storage of data.
Price of data at home
So I went to newegg.com to check out how much hard drives currently cost. I’m going to shoot from the hip and estimate that the average user doesn’t use more than 1TB of space, and I think that is overestimating it. So I will be making my calculations with a 1TB hard disk drive. Currently the average price of these is $89.99.
So, per GB you are paying around 9c. But, it is difficult to compare this to online backup services, since most of them charge for time (months & years), as well as the space you need.
Now, looking at some statistics from Boston Computing, 6% of “computers” will suffer data loss in the next year. So, statistically that means my hard drive wil fail every 17 years.
Now we have a “time” adjusted price per GB, 9c divided by 17, means 0.52c per GB per year. That is the cost per GB of your data at home.
Price of online backups data
Some providers offer unlimited space so it would be pretty difficult to calculate a price per GB. But, in the last calculation I assumed 1TB of data, so let’s assume the same here. Since I know how much providers charge, I can say that BackBlaze is one of the cheapest providers around, charging $3.96 for unlimited space per month, if you pay for 2 years upfront.
Please excuse me for the fact that I won’t use finance formulas (discount values, present values), although there are such things as inflation (so $89.99 for a hard drive now might be more expensive now than paying the same monthly for online backups due to inflation).
Anyway, back to reality. $3.96 per month for 17 years is $807.84. Price per GB? $0.80. So dollar for dollar, or cent for cent, you are paying around 400x online storage prices.
So, in a completely mathematical analytics where the only factor is price per GB, here are the results:
Home price: $0.005
Online Backup price: $0.80
Does this mean online backups are a con?
This is an online backups comparison site, so obviously I’m not going to say yes. I’m biased. But, you have to consider the points I’m about to make. The value of online backups is not the price per GB, although that is important too. What else do they offer?
- Using a second hard disk to back up means the same physical location. What if you spill tea on your PC? What if there’s a fire? The 17 years statistic I used is only for natural hard disk failure, human error is common. Decent backups need more redundancy than a second hard disk in the same location. In fact, you might just accidentally delete a file. Online backups can be useful even if it isn’t due to hard disk failure.
- Automatic backups - if you only use a second hard disk, you need to back up to it yourself (although with RAID this can be 100% automatic, but then a RAID hard disk is more than $89.99)
- Web Access - almost all providers let you access files from anywhere, this alone is a service that is very useful
- File versioning – what if you want to get back an older version of a file? Online backup services offer this, at home you are out of luck
- Security - your data will be stored in a data centre, which is a lot more secure than at home.
Whether the extra that online backups offer is worth it for you, is for you to decide. Whether than is worth 400x multiple, is up to you. But all in all, we are only talking about $3.96 per month. Not a large sum to keep offsite backups of all your files.
I welcome any comments at the bottom!
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