In the context of this article I’m referring to local wireless and not the cloud, meaning backups are sent over your local network to another computer/backup device in your house.
Backing up your data wirelessly is obviously not a new thing. Automated nightly backups can be done in any number of ways be it a simple cron in Unix/Linux, Windows "Scheduled Task", OS X’s Time Machine or from any of the many backup software titles available. No matter which way you choose to go with, the OS/software doesn’t care where you backup to as long as it can get there.
Most of you out there who use wi-fi use Wireless-G. N is becoming increasingly available and more affordable, but G is still the de facto standard at present.
Many of you out there do backup data over-the-air via Wireless-G to the intended destination, however this may not be such a good idea.
The best possible speed over Wireless-G is…
…one MB per second.
You may get 1.5MB/s if you’re lucky, but chances are you’re only going to get 1MB/s and nothing more.
Concerning your nightly backups over wi-fi, this presents a problem. If what you’re backing up exceeds 24GB of data, the nightly backup won’t be finished before sunrise.
24GB of data is 24,576MB. At one MB per second, it takes almost 7 hours to transfer that over Wireless-G. This means if your automated nightly backup starts at midnight, it won’t be done until around 7am.
You may be thinking, "So? What’s the problem?" The problem is that your local wi-fi traffic will still be in heavy use after you get up in the morning (unless you’re a late sleeper), and as such your local wireless network traffic is slowed significantly until that backup finishes its transfer.
Nightly backups in the traditional sense are supposed to be 100% finished well before the sun rises. If not, it’s taking too long and can quickly become an annoyance.
"But I’m not backing up over 24GB of data!"
Don’t be so sure. If you have your automated backup set in such a way to backup your entire computer (which many people do), you are probably backing up at least 24 gigs of data if not much more.
What do you do if you’re sending over 24GB over-the-air for a nightly backup?
Consider switching your network means of sending the nightly backup data to wired LAN, USB, eSATA or FireWire instead. The transfer will complete much, much faster and your network will be ‘free’ well before the sun comes up.
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