Which Online Backup Service Is Best?
If you listen to talk radio, you've probably heard online backup services like Carbonite, Mozy and iDrive advertising incessantly. Let's take a look at each of them, to see what they offer...
Online Backup Services
Online backup services help you create an off-site backup copy of your important files. This is a valuable tool in that you have a way to recover data if your hard drive crashes, if you accidentally delete a file, if you experience a disaster in your office such as a fire or flood, or if your computer is stolen.
While on-site backup devices are practical they too can be lost, damaged or destroyed in a fire, a power surge or if your office is burglarized. In these situations having an off-site backup can mean the difference between spending a couple of minutes to restore your files or spending thousands of dollars and hundreds of man hours to recreate files.
Here are some of the most popular online backup services, and some tips on choosing the best online backup service for you.
- Carbonite is the most popular online backup service, with an estimated 2 million customers. It offers a free trial to check out its services before you subscribe. If you sign up for a paid account then the fee is $54.95 a year, which works out to be about $4.58 per month. It is easy to download, install and set up. However, according to customer reviews of this service the initial backup of your files can take days to complete, depending on how much you have to back up. This product is compatible with both Macs and PCs, it doesn’t have a limit on how much you can back up for your $4.58 per month, it automatically sets up your account to back up the most common file types, i.e. documents and settings, however, if you have video, image or music files that you would like to back up then you will need to add these manually.
If you scan the online forums, there are some people who have complained about Carbonite’s limitations related to user control over what is being backed up, how it is backed up and how long it takes to backup. And in March 2009, Carbonite revealed that they had lost the backups of 7500 customers, but blamed the problem on defective hard drives supplied by one of their vendors.
- Mozy is another well known online backup service. It offers a free 2GB personal use account and a $4.95 per month unlimited storage account option. This online backup/storage service is compatible with both Macs and PCs. What people seem to like about Mozy is that it is easy to use and that its security is top notch. It utilizes both a 128 bit SSL encryption program and a 448 bit Blowfish encryption program. Other popular features offered by Mozy include automatic backups, easy to access files, remote access to your backed up files and incremental backups that look for new and changed files for backing up.
A few negative remarks have been made about the poor performance Mozy has with extra large backups. If you utilize the unlimited backup account option then you need to be prepared for your initial backup to take several weeks to complete. Also be prepared for serious delays when it comes to restoring large files and programs.
- iDrive rounds out the Big Three for online backup services. Like Mozy, it offers a free 2 GB backup account to home users. If you need more storage than that, or if you are in need of business file backup then you can select from one of their fee based accounts. You can get a 50 GB personal use account for about $49 a year, or a 50 GB business account for $99 per year.
iDrive does offer some unique features, such as iDrive Explorer, which maps out your backed up files like Windows Explorer, and has true archiving/synch options. That means iDrive doesn't automatically delete files on the server side when you delete them from your computer. iDrive also has mapped drive support, so you can backup multiple computers on your home or office network. The only drawbacks I could find from a customer perspective were the 50GB limitation, and that the interface is a bit more complicated to use.
Choosing an Online Backup Service
On the surface, each of these online backup services are similar. You pay about $50 per year, and you get convenient offsite backup for your important files. Carbonite gets points from users for ease of use, but Mozy seems to be preferred by techies, who like the more advanced controls that it offers when creating and scheduling backups. iDrive has some features that might be compelling to certain users. And of course there are others, such as Dropbox, Omnidrive, Norton Online Backup and Apple's MobileMe.
So which is best? You could poke around in the user forums to see what people are saying about each of them. And sometimes that's a good way to get a sense of which is best for you. But keep in mind that any service that's used by millions of people will have its detractors. I call this Big Company Syndrome. If a company has a million customers, and just one tenth of one percent are very dissatisfied with the product, that's 1000 unhappy people. And of course they are more likely to make noise than the 999,000 who ARE satisfied customers. So don't form your opinion of a company or it's products solely upon negative comments posted online.
Here's what I recommend... Check out all three online backup services, then pick one and go for the free trial. If the service meets your needs, $5 a month for automatic offsite backups is not a bad deal. Do you use an online backup service? Post your comments and questions below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 4 Sep 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Which Online Backup Service Is Best? (Posted: 4 Sep 2009)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved