Backing up personal information to the cloud

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Backing up personal information to the cloud is an easy and practical way to keep a spare copy of your important documents and records safe. We take a look at some of the best uses of the cloud for data storage and backup.

Cloud backup is when you store data on a remote data storage system using the cloud, which is a metaphor for 'the Internet'i,ii. This means that even if your computer malfunctions or is affected by a virus, or if your laptop is stolen or your home damaged by a storm or fire, or if you lose your smartphone, there'll still be a copy of the important work, documents, music and photos you've saved onto the remote Internet-based storage system. Although many Internet users are now aware of the benefits of backing up photos and work to the cloud, storing a copy of your personal information can also be beneficial in case the original is lost or destroyed.

Backing up to the cloud keeps a copy of your important documents and records safe.

Keep a copy safe

As well as backing up essential work files and irreplaceable photographs and videos to a cloud service, scanning important documents like financial and mortgage records, birth certificates and passports is also a good idea. These documents will then be accessible wherever you happen to be and from any computer that has Internet access. If your property is burgled or your records are damaged or destroyed, you will still be able to access your critical documentation from the cloud.

Scanning a copy of your passport and certificate of travel insurance and saving it to the cloud is a savvy way of smart travelling. Even if you suffer a misfortune overseas, it will be a relief to know that you can still get a copy of your travel documents from any computer with Internet access. Having a copy of your lost passport could also help speed up the passport reissue process from the nearest embassy.

Advantages of the cloud

Using a cloud service to store a copy of personal information as well as your collection of music and films, work documents and treasured photos creates a safety net in case the originals are lostiii. Another advantage of cloud-based storage is its ability to be accessed anywhere from an array of electronic devices that have an Internet connectioniv. The cloud also facilitates file sharing, where you can easily share a folder of personal records, photos, music or videos with a friend or collaborate on work projects with colleaguesiv.

Files saved to cloud storage can also be accessed from devices like your phone or tablet, which may not have adequate storage space for all of your data. Many cloud services offer free space that may suit your needsiii. Currently Dropbox provides 2 gigabytes of space for free, Google Drive and Apple iCloud both offer 5GB of free storage space, and Microsoft SkyDrive offers 7GB for freeiii.

Rather than just keeping a hard copy of your important documents, back up a scanned copy to the cloud and encrypt it so that they're safe if your home is burgled, damaged or destroyed


A concern some cite about using the cloud to store information is the security of your data with a remote server providerv. Also of note is that unlike the computer in your lounge room, your data may be in a different state or country, where it may be subject to different laws. Cloud services generally have stringent security policies, and some may tell you the jurisdiction your data is stored in if you are concerned.

You may also like to consider encrypting your data for an additional level of security. You can use well known encryption systems like Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) to do this. Alternatively there are a number of services - some free - that can be used to encrypt sensitive data before you upload it to the cloudvi. Viivo is a popular encryption service compatible with Dropbox that allows you to easily make sensitive cloud files more securevi. Another is Boxcryptor, a cryptographic virtual hard disk that is compatible with a range of platforms including Windows, Mac, Linux and phone systems Android and iOSvi.

Backing up your personal documents and records to the cloud means that even if you have the misfortune of losing the originals, it will be easier to reference and replace them. If a storm or fire damaged or destroyed your home, you would at least have the reassurance that you could still access your most important documents and information during the period you are working with your Home and Contents insurance provider to rebuild.

i Webopedia 2013, Cloud computing, viewed 19 November 2013,

ii Webopedia 2013, Cloud backup, viewed 19 November 2013,

iii Turner, A 2013, 'How to set up a safety net', The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 February, viewed 20 November 2013,

iv Jacob 2013, 'Pros and Cons of Cloud Storage', Cloud Storage Best, 14 August, viewed 20 November 2013,

v Mearin, L 2013, 'No, your data isn't secure in the cloud', 13 August, viewed 21 November 2013,

vi Chen, K 2013, 'Top 5 Free Encryption Tools to Protect your Data Stored in the Cloud', Next of Windows, 20 September, viewed 20 November 2013,