Everything You Wanted to Know about Online Backup APIs (But Were Afraid to Ask)

Have you already met the acronym API? Before getting into the detail, you might like to know why online backup APIs in particular could be of interest to you. Essentially, an API lets two software programs communicate between themselves. Why is this important? Because you can save time and effort by automating your online back-up procedures the way you want them to happen – and you may also be able to access online back-up functionality that simply isn’t available in the standard interface that relies on access via a computer keyboard and a mouse.
But What Does ‘API’ Stand For?
Now we can spell out ‘API’ in full as ‘Application Programming Interface’. In other words, an API is an interface that accepts instructions sent to it by another program and acts on those instructions accordingly. Yes, you need to have a program that sends those instructions. That’s why we didn’t want to mention the ‘P’ word (programming!) before, in case you started running in the opposite direction. Such a program to send the online backup instructions may be simple or complex. It may also already exist for you to use.
Where in the World Would I Find APIs?
In a general sense, just about everywhere. APIs are not specific to online backup applications. On a Windows PC, if you copy and paste text from NotePad into Microsoft Word for instance, then you are using an API. In web applications, the use of APIs abounds as well. Twitter and Facebook apps for PCs and mobile devices, as well as WordPress plugins for bloggers, are all examples. APIs exist anywhere a software vendor wants to attract as many users as possible by adding to the possibilities of direct interaction (mouse and keyboard) with programmatic interaction (API). This explains why you’ll find APIs in so many products or online apps, if you dig a little underneath the surface.
What do I Gain by Using an API?
That depends on what you want to do.  For users with less exacting requirements, the user interface to an online backup application will often be sufficient. Actually, using your mouse and keyboard to control your online backup application could be viewed as a special case of an API. By clicking on a menu item on the screen, you cause the user interface to send a command to the application and make it act in a certain way. An API used by another program accesses the online backup app in a similar way – except this time a program is doing what you were doing manually, but (potentially) much faster, at any time of the day or night, and without error.
Finally, How About Some Examples of Use of Online Backup APIs?
Suppose you are running an application and a database on your PC or server, for example a business program that gives employees the possibility to enter records of supplies received, sales made and current stocks. You might use the application programming interface (API) of an online backup service with a program you (or your pet developer) write to automatically pick the database files that must be backed up and schedule the backup. This avoids burdening an end-user with the job of manually doing this. Now suppose that you want to keep as many of the most recent backups as possible, but without exceeding a certain volume of storage. You might then write your program to send a request for information to the online backup service to find out how much storage space you’re using, and to delete the oldest versions of the backups until you’re sure that you’re under a certain level.