Is Backing Up Online Safe?

After reading When the Backup Drive Gets Full, LaTonya Powell asked whether online backup services such as Mozy (which I recommended in that tip) are really secure.

That's a good question. Identity theft is a serious problem, and we should all be concerned about it.

I should add that I'm a Mozy user myself, and yes, I pay for it just like everyone else.

According to my Mozy contact, that service encrypts the files on your PC before uploading them (over a secure, SSL connection). The files remain encrypted on Mozy's server.

You can choose between your own 256-bit AES encryption key or Mozy's 448-bit Blowfish encryption key. If you choose the former, even government agents at Mozy's door with a subpoena can't access your data--at least until they turn up at your door.

But just to be safe, I add another layer of security--one that also protects my data from the physical theft of the PC. I keep sensitive files in an encrypted vault. I do this with TrueCrypt, a free program I've recommended more than once in my column, most recently in Avoid Windows Encryption. Mozy backs up the vault as one big file, not knowing that there are multiple files within it. And without my password, the vault's contents are inaccessible.

I should add that since I last recommended Mozy, one Answer Line forum contributor had a significant problem--not security related--with the service. You can read about it here. I didn't find it worrisome enough to make me give up Mozy.

Add your comments to this article below. If you have other tech questions, email them to me at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum.

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