Is Online Backup Environmentally Friendly?

Picture the following scenario: A wealthy man needs to order 5,000,000 chocolate chip cookies for his grandson’s birthday party. This guy, we’ll call him Joe, has a passion for preserving the environment and natural resources.

Which option will Joe choose?

  1. Joe will hire 50,000 private home-based bakers to bake 100 cookies each. Each baker will have to use approximately 6 disposable cookie sheets, have their ovens running for around two hours expending many megawatts of electricity, plus running their air-conditioners to combat the heat in their home-based kitchens.


  1. Joe will hire one commercial sized, professional bakery with large, commercial ovens. The total baking time, amount of pans needed and electricity expended amounts to a miniscule fraction of the first choice scenario above.

One doesn’t have to be a rocket-scientist to conclude that obviously, environmentally friendly Joe, will choose option 2.

Eco Friendly Online BackupThis brings us back to our original question- is online backup environmentally friendly? To answer that, let’s first talk about conventional onsite backup methods: External hard-drives, CD’s and DVD’s.

External hard-drives: At first glance, portable hard-drives are quite an environmentally friendly option. They are relatively small with the capacity to fit tremendous amounts of information. Upon closer examination, however, they are not quite as green as they appear. Factories must still expend energy producing them, packaging them with cardboard and plastic which will eventually clog landfills. Lastly, much energy and fuel is expended in manufacturing the drives and delivering them to users all across the globe. In addition, broken, damaged or outdated external hard-drives eventually find their way to garbage dumps the world over. Therefore, portable hard-drives can’t quite be labeled environmentally friendly.


CD’s and DVD’s: These storage devices have definitely helped the computing landscape with backups over the past two decades. Nevertheless, with the advent of offsite, online, cloud-based backup options, the CD’s and DVD’s are destined to go the way of records, tapes and floppy-disks. As in: extinction. This is due to many factors, with not being environmentally friendly just the tip of the iceberg.

Why aren’t CD’s and DVD’s environmentally friendly?

For several reasons: Firstly, each individual PC owner needs a lot of CD’s and DVD’s for responsible backup storage. This leads to factories expending much energy and resources to produce them. Once they are produced, high-levels of fuel emission are necessary to transport them via air, sea or land, to stores or directly to the end-user.

In addition, with technology constantly evolving, the old has got to constantly move over to make room for the new, leaving each home or business owner with heaps and stacks of mostly non-recyclable trash.

When tapes were invented, mountains of records hit the landfills. When CD’s were invented, tons of tapes and floppy-disks hit the landfills. And now, with CD’s and DVD’s becoming redundant due to environmentally-friendly offsite backup, they will soon join their technological predecessors in ever-growing landfill heaps.

Finally, external hard-drives, CD’s and DVD’s aside, the energy and environmental resources expended in each individual business or private home when backup is in progress onsite is simply astronomical. Many businesses have their onsite servers going 24/7, even though it is not in use for large chunks of time. If businesses and homeowners move over to online backup solutions, the energy expended is exponentially slashed, as the offsite data servers have the distribution of their huge data storage drives energy needs calculated to a near-perfect science, not to mention that many of them are powered by renewable energy sources like wind and solar power.

This brings us back to our chocolate chip cookie, environmentally friendly guy, Joe. In much the same way that Joe would definitely opt to go commercial, any environmentally friendly person out there would opt for cloud-based, online backups.

In summary, aside from being user-friendly, reliable and convenient, online backup gets two thumbs-up from environmentalists worldwide. It’s great to go-green. And it’s even greater when, while going green, you win on the deal with better, more efficient and reliable backup storage solutions.