How Long Will the Initial Backup Take?

Will My First Backup Take a Long Time since There's so Much to Upload?

A spiral clock, representing never ending time
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Won't the thousands or millions of files you've chosen to backup with an online backup service take a really, really long time to send over the Internet?

How can you figure out how long that first upload will take?

The following question is one of many you'll find in my Online Backup FAQ:

"I'm assuming the first time I backup it'll take a long time, considering the amount of data I have. How long exactly?"

Your assumption is correct, assuming that the amount of data you initially select to be backed up is large, which is probably very likely.

How long is a more complicated question to answer and depends on a number of factors.

In general, the less data you have to backup, the greater your upload bandwidth, and the greater bandwidth available to the cloud backup service's servers all contribute to a faster initial backup.

Aside from the inverse of what I've already talked about, another common thing that might slow down your online backup is general Internet congestion. Any contractual restrictions that limit your upload bandwidth to your chosen backup provider could also drastically slow your initial upload but that's not very common.

Faster computer hardware can help considerably with how long the preparation of your data for backup takes. However, unless your computer is very slow, faster hardware doesn't have a great impact on the actual upload time.

With so many variables, it's nearly impossible to figure out how long it will take for that initial online backup to complete.

I hesitate somewhat to share my experience because yours could differ considerably, but, for what it's worth, I backed up over a few hundred GB with Backblaze and it only took 3 days, while others that I've tried were a little slower. That said, with so many variables involved, you could have the opposite experience.

I wouldn't recommend one backup service over the other solely on my personal experience with my initial backup.

At the time of those initial backups, my upload bandwidth was regularly testing between 4 Mbps and 6 Mbps, depending on the time of day. Keep that in mind as you decide how important the initial upload times I mention here, and in my reviews, are to you.

If you have a lot to backup or have a slower connection to the Internet, please know that some online backup services offer an offline backup option for initial backups. With this service, which most backup providers charge extra for, you ship a hard drive or flash drive with a copy of your important data directly to the backup provider, saving you the days or weeks it might take to transfer your data to their servers over the Internet.

Check for Offline Backup Option(s) in my Online Backup Comparison Chart to see which of my favorite online backup services offer this option.

Below are some related questions I get about configuring and using online backup software on your computer:

    I've answered well over a dozen more questions like this, all available via my Online Backup FAQ piece.