The key idea behind off-site backup is that if your computer is stolen, destroyed in a fire or a natural disaster wipes out everything, having it all securely backed up somewhere else could be a godsend.

Share story

Over the years, I’ve written about countless software and hardware products that back up your data and still there’s always a new wrinkle that crops up in the backup arena. The idea of off-site backups isn’t a new one. There are dozens of services that will do it for you, offering special software that connects to their remote servers and copies everything for safe keeping.

The key idea behind off-site backup is that if your computer is stolen, destroyed in a fire or a natural disaster wipes out everything, having it all securely backed up somewhere else could be a godsend.

One of the newest ideas to surface in off-site backups is Cucku. The name wasn’t chosen because the idea is a crazy one but rather emulates a more inventive characteristic of the cuckoo bird.

I didn’t know this, but evidently the cuckoo puts its precious eggs in another bird’s nest. I’m not sure whether that’s because it doesn’t know how to make one or it’s too lazy to build one on its own. Perhaps it’s just its way of not dealing with teenagers. But whatever the case, the idea behind Cucku is that you entrust your precious data to a friend.

After you install Cucku (www.cucku.com) on your computer, it first makes a complete local backup of all your data. As a default, it automatically determines what needs to be backed up, including the obvious things such as e-mail and bookmarks. It also does a good job in determining the not-so-obvious and backs them up as well.

Unlike some backup software, it can back up files that are locked and open, such as Outlook’s e-mail files. This data can be stored on any type of storage device, such as an external hard drive. But that’s where the similarities end.

After the local backup, it then compresses and creates an encrypted copy of that data, sending it off for storage and safekeeping on someone’s computer whom you’ve designated to be your backup partner. The compression also keeps things to a manageable size.

While you are entrusting your data to your trusted partner, that person still won’t be able to access any of your data. In fact, the partner can’t even see the file names.

The big difference here with Cucku, as opposed to off-site services, is that there’s no central server. Cucku warns that off-site services might get hacked or damaged, but I must point out that most all of these off-site services have so many redundant backups, the likelihood of that happening is truly remote.

Still, the concept here is a novel one. You’re entrusting a close friend to keep your stuff, which is completely secure from any access attempts on that person’s part.

And, of course, you could eliminate the trusted friend altogether and just use Cucku to backup your data from your home computer to your office PC, for example.

So why would you choose to do an off-site backup this way? Well, for one thing, it’s free. And second, you know who’s got your back — or, more accurately, your backup. It’s not off in the Internet cloud somewhere. It’s a novel concept and, given the cost, it’s definitely worth a try.

Other important points to know about Cucku are that it continuously and automatically keeps backing up your hard drives when you aren’t using your computer.

The backups are incremental, which means that after the initial backup, Cucku will back up only the things that change. This keeps backup times to a minimum and also keeps your backup data synchronized with your backup partner’s copy.