Spare Backup: No Technical Skills Required

By Lauren Simonds
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Backing up your data definitely falls into that unpleasant category of things-you-know-you-should-do-every-day-but-don't — like flossing your teeth, eating more fruits and veggies or exercising. Spare Backup Inc, a Palm Desert, Calif.-based tech company aims to take data backup off that list with Spare Backup, an automated service it designed for SOHO businesses with one-to-six people.

Cery Perle, Spare Backup's chief executive officer, realized the need for a backup program like Spare Backup when a data disaster wiped out all of his saved e-mail. "I run a technology company, and you'd think I'd know better," he said. "But like most small business people, there isn't someone doing the backup for me; I have to do it myself and I'm just too busy."

Small businesses understand the need for backup said Perle. "Education is not the problem," he said. "People know why they need to backup their data, they just don't know which product to use.

So Perle had his company's engineers develop a service for non-technical people, a program that runs automatically — invisibly — in the background. "I'm the guinea pig," said Perle. "They design it so I can use it. If I'm not asking questions, they've done it right."

Roadblocks to Effective Backups
Perle says people don't back up data because the products are either too complicated or too expensive — and sometimes both. And when most small businesses back up, they back up to removable media such as Zip disks, CDs or external storage drives that remain in the office.

"It's an incomplete backup because if there's a natural disaster — a fire, flood or other emergency — it destroys your backup along with everything else," said Perle. "Spare Backup stores your data in two separate off-site facilities."

Registry settings associated with the various programs you're backing up play another role in data backup, said Perle. Applications store bits and pieces of data in different areas all over the hard drive, and the registry settings — they tell the PC where to find and how to associate the files — could be stored in a different location. Part of Spare Backup's process includes backing up the registrations for applications including: Outlook and Outlook Express, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Quicken, QuickBooks, MS Money, Turbo Tax and Tax Cut.

Playing It Safe
For some small business owners, the idea of trusting their critical business data to a third party is, if not terrifying, then at least unnerving. Still, off-site data storage facilities are just about the safest place you could store your data. They offer 24-hour, seven-days-a-week encrypted protection — a lot more security than most small businesses could ever hope to provide.

According to Brian Polack, spare Backup's chief technology officer, the Spare Backup service provides three levels of secure encryption technology.

AES 1024-bit SSL encryption — most other backup solutions use 128-bit SSL. More bits means tougher encryption
• Private key encryption — a user name and password known only to you
• Spare Key — a password known only to you and a third party holding company. You have your user name and password and the private key. The third party may know your private key, but they don't have your user name and password.

Let the Backup Begin
Perle said the best part of Spare Backup is that it doesn't require any action on the customer's part. "All the action happens in the background — it's totally invisible," he said.

Spare Backup
Spare Backup aims to make data backup, storage and retrieval automatic and painless for small — one-to-six-PCs — businesses.

The service scans your hard drive for files — including your e-mail. It sets up a daily backup schedule and stores the files two remote data centers — one on the West coast and one on the East coast.

After the initial scan, Spare Backup adds new files and only updates previously scanned files that have changed since the last backup. Perle said customers can instantly retrieve individual files or the entire backup.

Service Features

  • An automatic program installation that requires absolutely no user interaction to configure backups
  • Complete backups for all for all registry settings in every directory
  • No complicated file selection — Spare scans your computer and backs up:
  • All contacts, e-mail messages and attachments, address book, folders and contents, signature files from Outlook and Outlook Express

  • Word, Excel, PowerPoint files, templates and settings from MS Office
  • My Documents, My Music, My Pictures, Quicken, QuickBooks, MS Money, Turbo Tax and Tax Cut

  • All desktop files
  • Simple, fast data recovery
  • Reports sent automatically to users via e-mail and available in Spare
  • Redundant file support — select a restore from the last 10 backups
  • Online file retrieval from any Internet connection — using Spare Key
  • Three levels of encryption — SSL with Verisign authenticity certificates, Blowfish with private key, AES 256 block cipher with unique user key
  • Decryption protected by Spare Key in your computer and with broker so complete loss of computer is not a problem

The Spare Backup service costs $15.97 per month for up to 2GB of storage. You can buy additional storage in 2GB allotments for $10.97 per month. The company's 14-day free trial let's you try before you buy.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of SmallBusinessComputing.com

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This article was originally published on April 12, 2005
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