Evaluating Online Backup Services

  • People are moving to online backup (as opposed to the conventional method of backing up files via hard drive) because in case of any kind of disaster, ranging from a hard drive crash to a hurricane, you’ll have all your files stored safely away from your home or office. But it’s important to consider several factors when choosing one of the many available services. Here's what you should take into account:
  • What's The Cost? Clearly, money is a big factor. With popular backup services like Carbonite and Mozy, you’ll pay about $4.25 to $4.50 per month if you have a multi-year contract. However, while that may seem cheap, you’ll probably want to test the service before you make a commitment. Sites like Mozy and SugarSync offer free trials, but watch it! You don’t want to exceed the trial time and, with some services, suddenly start getting monthly bills.
  • How Many Computers Do You Want Covered? If you’re a home user, you might want to try a service that backs up three computers, the average number in a home. Carbonite , Mozy and my PCbackup cover just one computer, but you can pay an extra $2 monthly for each computer that’s covered. Most services offer business plans as well, and some of these cover an unlimited number of computers.
  • How Much Storage Space Do You Need? Carbonite offers unlimited storage included with the monthly fee, while others limit storage space to, say, 30 to 50 GB, although you can buy more space Concretely, here’s what you can expect: 25G will hold 1.4 million text and/or message files, but only about 2,665 music files and 313 video files. If you’ve got an external hard drive, you may have one that holds 1 TB (terabyte) of data. That translates into 1,024 GB. If you want that data backed up digitially, some services offer unlimited storage space; others have a limit of 25 to 50G, although you pay extra for additional space. First, though, be sure to check that the service you’re considering backs up external hard drives.
  • How Safe Are Your Files? There’s really no need to worry about the security of your files. Files are protected during transfer with a 128-bit SSL encryption are are stored using a 256-bit encryption. Those are the most up-to-date security procedures in the industry.
  • How Long Will Your Files Be Stored? One last factor: Even if a service is a bit more expensive, it might be better to go with it rather than a cheaper service that’s been around for a shorter period of time. You want to make sure your data is safe for a long time to come, and that you won’t be stuck moving it around from service to service.

    The bottom line: There are a lot of things to consider when choosing an online backup service. But a few hours’ research can help you find the best service for you so you’ll never have to worry again about losing irreplaceable files.