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In the past, physical storage devices such as USB drives, CDs and external hard disks were the only available data backup solutions. Today, people have the option to back up files in the cloud with and many other companies offering affordable online backup solutions. In this article we are going to explore both file backup methods, their strengths and limitations to solve the dilemma of choosing the right option.

Any Backup is Better than No Backup

First, it is important to insist that even if you cannot clearly choose your ideal backup solution, you cannot ignore the risk of catastrophic data loss. The rule of thumb here is, ‘at least have some backup!’

Strengths and Limitations of External Hard Drive Backup


  • Cost – External drives are more affordable than never. With only a few coins you can get a 500GB or 1TB external drive, giving you ample space for your backup needs. Besides, you only spend once as there are no subscription or connection charges.
  • Security – Local backup storage is the most secure option since data is not vulnerable to online attacks. This also gives you peace as you have full control of your data.
  • Portability – This can be a strength in that you can carry the device to any other location and use it to access your data on another PC.
  • Backup Speed – External drives use USB 3.0 or 2.0 connection, allowing you to transfer bulk data files within minutes.


  • Limited Life – External hard disk is prone to breaking down, especially after many years of use. Even a new device could break due to manufacturing defaults, corrupting all your backup files.
  • Security – While portable drives allow you to have your data with you at all times, it also means it can get lost or stolen. Moreover, you need the expertise to encrypt your data.
  • Flexibility – If you are running out of storage space, you cannot upgrade your storage space. You can only buy an extra device making it hard to manage your data.
  • No Auto Backup – You need to connect the device physically with your PC to update your backup. This means that at some point, your data will not up to date.
  • Disaster Recovery – In case of a disaster like fire incidents or flood, your external hard disk will be destroyed making it impossible to recover your data.

Strengths and Limitation of Cloud Backup Solution


  • Flexible prices – You can choose a package based on the amount of data you want to back up from as low as £0.5 monthly plans.
  • Scalability – You can easily upgrade your cloud storage capacity by choosing a plan with a bigger space.
  • Data Access and Recovery – Since your data is stored in a remotely, it is not prone to fire damages or theft. You can access your data from any device on the go. Besides you can share your data with other users without moving your devices.
  • Security – You can choose a provider that offers automatic data encryption to enhance data security.
  • Automated updates – Some online backup services have real-time or scheduled update features to ensure that your back up file is up to date without your intervention.


  • Slow backup speed – The speed of file transfer can be very slow especially if you are using poor connections.
  • Recurring Costs – You need to pay the subscription and maintenance fee every month or annually depending on your plan. Additionally, there is an extra connection cost since you have to be connected to the internet.
  • Security threats – Any online data is prone to malicious attacks in case hackers are able to bypass security blocks. Besides, if you handle sensitive data, you have no full control and will only rely on the trust of the provider.

Which is Best Option for File Backup?

Choosing the best file backup method depends on many factors including the type and amount of data and budget. If your organizations deal with sensitive information, then the external hard drive would be a great choice. On the other hand, if you need universal access to your data, online backup solutions are the way to go. However, if you are not limited to choose one method, it is no harm using the two methods together.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of our publication.