In the business world, the need for reliable, accessible backup of corporate data is a constant one. In the past - and even today - many companies opt for magnetic tape backup systems to protect their data. Others employ a RAID-based system, which stands for Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks, which is an umbrella term for backing up your data across multiple hard disks. Tape backups, while popular, are prone to a number of problems including tape wear-and-tear, limited intermediate backups, and a lack of data integrity. The RAID method offers a more attractive solution; however, most businesses like to keep a copy of their vital data offsite.

In recent years, we have seen the growth of offsite, automatic or semi-automatic backup services that offer consumers an alternative to in-house backups. Traditionally, online file storage suffered from a lack of bandwidth and prohibitive storage costs. With the development and dissemination of broadband technology, online data storage costs decreased considerably. The options available to both private and public ventures and collective private citizens are not only affordable, but extremely accommodating.

Though online file storage is loosely geared towards the business community, many personal computer users are also opting for backing up their data online. Backing up or filing data online provides an extremely cost effective alternative to buying a file server. Many online companies now offer support for large files, unlimited storage space, search engine capabilities to find stored files, and a fully configurable file server located offsite.

Many business are concerned about the compromising of sensitive data, but with today's powerful data encryption protocols in place, this is not a significant problem. Most file servers and online file storage systems take extra steps to protect both data and privacy. The online interfaces allow for collaborative efforts, where more than one person can log into the file server and backup files, and also protect against unplanned events or natural disasters (hurricanes, tornadoes and the like).

Most online file storage facilities offer non-intrusive backup services that are more effective than traditional scheduled backups. Furthermore, they are easy to access by sanctioned users and extremely difficult to infiltrate by non-sanctioned users. Where necessary, collaborative projects and remote access are accounted for, giving businesses and private users a great deal of flexibility. There is also automatic file versioning for collaborative efforts that is usually offered as well as the ability to be notified of changes made to particular documents with identification easily made as well.