Comparing Online Backup Services

by Jason Kay on 6 September 2010 8 comments

These days, people keep all kinds of data on their computers, from family photos to financial records. With no backups, you could lose all of the information for good if your computer crashes. All your cherished memories and important records could be gone forever. Although backing up to an external hard drive or another storage device is an option, theft, fire, or another natural disaster could wipe out your backups as well as what's on your computer.

The logical and most convenient answer to this problem is online backup. Backing up your data onto an off-site server protects you by duplicating everything on your computer and storing it in a separate location. This way, if a fire destroys your computer, or if someone steals all of your electronics, you won't lose your backups at the same time.

An online backup service installs software on your computer to control the whole thing and make it as user-friendly as possible. Most backup services allow you to schedule a time of day or night for the backup to run automatically, usually when you are not using the computer so that you can back up your data quickly without slowing down your computer while you are working on it. The software checks to see what files have been added or updated since the last backup, and only backs up those files. The software also encrypts your backups for your security and makes sure that the files can only be accessed from your computer or with your account.

There are a number of online backup services to choose from. Some are easier to use than others, some give you more space than others, and some cost more than others. It is important to carefully review the features of each service before making a choice. Here are a few of the most popular online backup services and how they rate when compared against one another.

Mozy

Mozy is possibly the most popular and well-known of online backup services. The service offers two different plans: MozyHome Free and MozyHome. Both programs are user friendly. After downloading the software on your computer, you can control almost every aspect of your online backups, including how often your computer backs up, when your backups start, and what folders or files are to be backed up. You can even control how fast the backups go! The faster the software handles the backups, the slower the rest of your computer runs, so this is an especially useful feature.

Mozy is also very affordable. If you don't have much to backup, you can get 2GB of backup space completely free. MozyHome, on the other hand, offers you a truly unlimited amount of backup space, and costs only $4.95 a month.

IDrive

IDrive is very similar to Mozy in that it has both a free 2GB plan (IDrive Basic), and a $4.95 per month plan (IDrive Pro). Instead of the paid plan offering unlimited storage space, however, you get 150GB — which may seem like a lot, but you may use it up faster than you might think.

IDrive is a better service than Mozy in some ways, though, as many people find the software easier to use. Also, IDrive performs backups much faster than Mozy, so if speed is more important to you than the amount of space you get, you may want to check out IDrive.

Carbonite

Another popular online backup service is Carbonite. Although this one doesn't have a free plan, it does offer unlimited data storage for just $49.95 a year, which works out to be a little less per month than either Mozy or IDrive.

If security is your top concern, Carbonite is probably the best online backup service to use, as it does the best job of encrypting your data to keep it safe. However, users report that the service is slower and the software more difficult to use, preventing Carbonite from being a top choice for many people.

Choosing a Service

There are many factors that go into choosing an online backup service. Security, speed, ease of use, storage space, and cost are all things you need to think about. Be sure to research several services before making your choice, checking reviews and comparisons, as well as each service's website, and considering what features are most important to you!

This is a guest post by Jason Kay. Jason has used online backup services to safeguard his home business data for over three years.

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Guest's picture
Ben

Great post about online backups.I think online backups are the best solutions for data security in case one has been hit by a calamity or incase one's hard drive crashes.Well i personally use and online backup solution called Safecopy backup for all the backups i need.With Safecopy,everything is just perfect and it is so compatible with both my Mac and Win computers.And they are now offering 5GB free unlimited trial version for a client who joins the face book fan page.But they offer a free unlimited 3GB trial version.I like this because the trial version never expires

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Chris M

One other important feature (for me) is the ability to back up data that is on external drives too. Last time I researched it, many companies (like Carbonite) only backed up the internal storage-- so any data on an external USB or Firewire drives was not backed up.

I ended up going with Mozy because it will back up my external drives too!

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Guest

Crashplan is also worth a look. Lot faster and less buggy than Mozy in my experience. Not to mention you can backup to your own remote location(s) using their interface. Completely painless - best offsite backup experience I've had yet.

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Amy H

I would have liked it if you had actually tried these programs. I had a bad experience with Mozy; the free plan worked fine, but due to the 2gig limit, all I was backing up was documents and the like. When I upgraded, I learned that it had a terrible time uploading pictures, and pretty much froze up the computer when it tried to get my videos. Also, it took weeks to get 8 gig. Not at all what I was expecting after having used the free version. They also will not give you your money back if you end up having issues like I did. I signed up for a couple months in advance (not too smart for anything like this, I have learned), and was hoping I could get some of it back. Their response was that the free trial should have been enough of a test to see if I liked it.

So, buyer beware - there's a HUGE difference between uploading documents and MP3 files and the big stuff. Make sure you really test that before committing to months like I did.

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Arnie

Using the coupon code EMMA15 will save you 15% on MozyPro, or you can use EMMA for a 15% discount on MozyHome

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Guest

Thanks Jason Kay for the article.
@Ben thanks for introducing to us Safecopy backup.I have just signed up for a paid account.The services are awesome and i love it so much.

Guest's picture

You have to be able to get on line to back up or to retrieve your back up. ISPs have been known to go down for minutes or days. In the even of a real disaster, floods, earthquakes, hurricanes, you might not be able to access vital data for weeks.

Far better ins a external hard drive that can be quickly disconnected and removed to safety in case of disaster. Like gym memberships or home exercise equipment, you do have to use it and use it faithfully. I'm a believer and these have saved my data more than once.

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Ritah Brenda

Can anyone tell me about any comparison of Safecopy backup and anyother backup service,I have really fallen in love with this backup system.Because it seems to offer good services.