What Are Backup Status Alerts?

Get alerts when a backup program runs successfully or fails

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Some file backup programs support what's called backup status alerts, which are notifications about a backup job. They might be a simple alert on the computer or an email notification, both of which are useful for letting you know that a backup job has failed or succeeded.

Some online backup services generate these alerts from the web-account side only, meaning it's not a true part of the backup software you're using.

In those cases, a backup status "alert" is really just a daily or weekly rundown of your online backup.

Other cloud backup services offer more extensive alerting. For example, some show a pop-up from the backup software, others send emails as often as you'd like, still others will even tweet directly to you when your backup is complete.

Either way, the purpose of these alerts is to let you know what's going on with your file backups. Any good backup software will be silent and do its job in the background, and only bother you when something needs addressed or to let you know how things are going, which is when these alerts come into play.

Common Backup Status Alert Options

Any backup software tool that supports status alerts will at least let you know if the backup has failed. Most will also alert you (if you choose so) when the backup finishes successfully. Still others might even notify you when the backup is about to start or when it failed to start after x retries.

Some backup programs let you be super specific with status alerts. As you'll see in one of the examples below, the program might provide multiple alert options so that you can be told if your backup jobs haven't run in so-many days, like one or five. That way, you can get things in check before you find out after three months that none of your files have been backing up.

In addition to or in place of that first alert, the software might have more options like actually showing a pop-up alert that says the backup has completed. While it's true that those kinds of alerts aren't as useful as email alerts unless you're sitting in front of the computer, this one in particular is a common practice for most backup programs.

Like mentioned above, some backup tools provide a way to send you a message on Twitter when something happens with your backup, like when it failed to run or didn't finish properly. These alerts are useful for Twitter users but others might find the desktop or email notifications more relevant.

Examples of Backup Status Alerts

Alerts regarding backup jobs are usually customizable in the settings of the backup software or will only be seen when actually configuring the backup, and thus only customizable when you're dealing with a specific backup job (i.e. two backup jobs might have two separate backup status alert options)

For example, one program that can deliver backup status alerts is CrashPlan. You can do so through Settings > General; see what that looks like in Step 4 in our CrashPlan program tour.

Tip: You can see which of our favorite cloud backup services support what kinds of alerts in our online backup comparison chart.

With CrashPlan in particular, you can setup your account for various types of status alerts: backup status reports that provide general information about how your backups have been doing, and warning or critical alerts when backups haven't run after x days.

For example, you might have a backup status report sent to your email once a week for an easy rundown of how many files have been backed up over time, but a warning sent after two days if nothing has been backed up, and a critical message after five days.

With that software, you can even decide when the emails should come so that you'll only get them in the morning, evening, afternoon, or night.

The weekly rundown emails are far more common these days, partly because most online backup services check for, and then back up, on a near-continuous basis. Who wants email alerts, auto-tweets, or pop-ups every 45 seconds? Not me.

Online backup programs aren't the only ones that can serve backup status alerts - offline backup tools can as well, but it's usually only seen with the commercial backup software programs. One example is EaseUS Todo Backup Home, which can send an email notification when a backup operation succeeds and/or fails.

Tip: Some free backup tools, like Cobian Backup, let you run programs or scripts after a backup job is finished, which can be customized to send out an email alert. However, that's definitely not as easy to do as simply enabling an "email alert" option.