BACKUP: Carbonite, Mozy, or Crashplan?
Online backup services are becoming quite popular, but it can be daunting to sort through all of the options. Can you get by with a free backup option? How much backup storage do you need? And are there any gotchas if you exceed your storage allotment? Read on to learn more about three popular cloud backup services...
Three Online Backup Options Compared
Backing up the files you've stored on your hard drive is one of the most important tasks for any computer owner. Nobody wants to lose their music, photos, emails, documents or spreadsheets because of a computer glitch, virus or unexpected hardware failure. I've written about Free Backup Software for those who want to use local storage, such as an external hard drive.
But if disaster strikes, your backup can be lost in a flood, fire, hurricane or tornado. That's why it's smart to consider online (cloud) backup as an alternative, or in addition to, local backups.
Mozy, one of the earliest online backup services, has seen so much success that it’s done away with truly “unlimited” storage space. Instead, Mozy has implemented a tiered pricing structure based upon how much data one stores on its servers. The result, for one admittedly extreme customer, was a monthly bill that could have exceeded $2,000! Naturally, he passed on that proposal and found another online backup service.
With the entry-level Mozy Home service, tiered pricing starts at $5.99/month for up to 50 GB. Up to 125 GB costs $9.99 per month. The fellow mentioned above was storing about 1.5 TB of photos with Mozy; an extreme case, indeed! Still, if you have a more typical amount of data, you may well end paying Mozy $120 a year. If you exceed the 125 GB tier, your bill may jump dramatically. Moving up to the Mozy Pro service, which lets you back up multiple computers, an allotment of 250 GB would cost $95/month,
One unique thing about Mozy is Stash, their file synchronization feature. It lets you drop a file in your local Stash folder, which is pushed out to your online backup, and kept in sync across all your computers. Also noteworthy is the Mozy Data Shuttle option, which lets you do your initial backup on a drive that Mozy sends to you. After making your backup on the shuttle drive, you send it back, and they load it for you. This is desirable for users who have large amounts of data, and don't want to wait weeks for the initial backup via the Internet to complete
Carbonite still offers truly “unlimited” plans, starting at $59 per year for basic online-only backup for one computer. Its Home Plus plan costs $99/year but includes the ability to backup your external hard drive, and can make image backups as well. The Home Premier plan ($149/year) includes all of that, plus a Courier Recovery service, so you can get a copy of your backup sent by mail, when you need to restore your files from backup in a hurry. All of the Home plans limit you to one computer, but Carbonite's Business and Business Pro plans let you backup multiple computers. All plans offer versioning, so you can restore previous versions of files you've backed up.
Carbonite discourages extreme users with tiered bandwidth-throttling policies. The more storage space you use, the slower your file transfers. Carbonite, for example, will accept your first 35 GB at up to 2 Mbps. Between 35 and 200 GB, bandwidth drops to 512 Kbps. Above 200 GB, you’re limited to 100 Kbps. The result is that if you try to upload a large amount of data to your online backup, it will take a long time to get there. Just for fun, I did the math. If you've reached the 200GB plateau, uploading an additional 100GB of data would take about three months! If you upgrade to the more expensive "Business" ($229/year) and "Business Plus" ($599/year) plans from Carbonite, you won't have any data throttling when uploading to the service.
UPDATE: Carbonite no longer throttles your uploads. Apparently, word got back to the folks at Carbonite about my comments here, and they decided to eliminate the throttling. Thanks, Carbonite!
Free Cloud Backup Options
On the upside, there are some freebies offered by online backup providers. There's the MozyHome Free option, which gives you 2GB of backup storage. 4Sync offers 15GB of free space, and will sync your files across desktop, laptop, web and mobile devices. Carbonite's free offer is less enticing. Although it doesn't limit you on space, you have only 15 days of freeness to enjoy. See my article Nine Free Cloud Backup Services to learn how you can access over 150 GB of free online backup storage.
Crashplan is a relative newcomer to the online backup scene. It offers free unlimited backup storage – using other computers in your home/office network. If you have two or more computers in your home, you can install CrashPlan on each (Windows, Mac or Linux) and use your local network to do mutual backups. Or, use your friends’ hard drives and the Internet to do free backups. You can invite other people to join you in a peer-to-peer network powered by Crashplan’s backup software. Basically, all of you share some of your storage space for each other’s backups. Call it social online backup.
Crashplan also offers space on its own servers, of course, and itâs priced cheaper than Mozy or Carbonite. Unlimited storage on Crashplan's servers costs just $4/month per computer, or $9/month for 2-10 computers. Crashplan does not throttle bandwidth based on storage space used, and offers the option to do your initial backup with a "seed drive". My article Free Online Backup With CrashPlan describes the CrashPlan offerings in greater detail, and also tells you how to use it to make free online backups with your own web server, if you have one.
Choosing an online backup service is relatively simple for a single computer with a typical amount of data. But as you can see, it can get complicated as the number of PCs and gigabytes increase. I'd recommend Mozy, Carbonite or CrashPlan without hesitation. All of them are secure, high-quality offerings. For those who need 2GB or less of backup storage, Mozy's free option seems a no brainer. Carbonite can be a better deal than Mozy for those who need to backup more than 50GB. CrashPlan is less known, but the pricing is even better. And I think their free local/social options are very attractive for users who are willing to explore them.
Are you using an online backup service? Tell me about your experience. Post your comment or question below...
Posted by Bob Rankin on 25 Jan 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- BACKUP: Carbonite, Mozy, or Crashplan? (Posted: 25 Jan 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved