The best online backup providers make it easy for you to backup your files on a regular basis so your data is safe from disk drive failure, hackers, and natural disasters. Even if you’re backing up your data with the Windows backup and restore wizard, you still can store your backup files online.
Best Online Backup Provider #1: Dropbox
Founded just a few years ago to wide acclaim, Dropbox offers more than just regular backup. But, as a backup provider, it offers first-rate service. You can expect all of the following features from Dropbox:
- Easy setup makes Dropbox desirable over most other backup solutions. Just install the Dropbox program, create an account, and add the files you want to backup to your Dropbox folder. There’s nothing else for you to do.
- Instant backups are made every time you update a file on Dropbox. You don’t need to press any buttons or run any programs—the updated file is automatically sent to Dropbox’s server. There’s no online backup service simpler than this.
- Access older versions of your documents if you accidentally delete something. All you have to do is right-click on the the file you want to revert in Windows Explorer. Anyone who worries about losing work due to a tiny human error need never fear again. Dropbox keeps your old versions for 30 days so you have plenty of time to find mistakes. (With an account upgrade, Dropbox will keep old versions forever.)
- Free basic service which includes two gigabytes of storage space. Two gigabytes isn’t much space for serious backup, but it’s perfect for storing most documents and files which change frequently—and these are the files that are usually the hardest to keep sufficiently backed up. The free service also gives you an unbeatable opportunity to try Dropbox before you pay for more advanced service.
- No extra charge for multiple computers makes Dropbox one of the most affordable services for homes and offices with several computers.
- Shares files with people on other computers, a service which goes beyond online backup but which many people find useful.
Problems With Using Dropbox For Online Backup
Although Dropbox sounds like the ideal online backup provider, there are a few things you may want to consider before trusting them with your files.
Dropbox claims they use “military grade encryption,” but what they don’t tell you is that they, not you, hold the encryption key to your files. That means that a hacker who successfully penetrates Dropbox’s servers could get your encryption key and use it to access your files. Dropbox obviously works very hard to prevent this from happening, but nothing you do can alleviate this risk.
Another reason you may want to avoid Dropbox is that they become expensive after you leave the free plan. As of this writing, Dropbox offered 2 GB for free, 50 GB for $9.99 a month, and 100 GB for $19.99 a month. Compared to the services listed below, anything besides the free Dropbox service may seem too expensive. However, do remember that you get a lot of features from Dropbox that you don’t get with other online backup services.
Best Online Backup Provider #2: Mozy
Long the leader among online backup providers, Mozy works with both Windows and Mac OS X computers. Like Dropbox, Mozy detects changed files and instantly backs them up to ensure you never lose more than a few minutes of work when your disk drive fails.
You also get to access older versions of your files for up to 30 days after you make a change. Anyone who uses their computer for serious work should have this option because it’s very easy to accidentally delete a paragraph or a page in Word without realizing it until later.
Mozy is backed by the EMC corporation, a Fortune 500 company with a long history of managing data—besides producing Mozy, they’re also world’s largest provider of data storage platforms. This experience works for you in two ways: first, you can trust Mozy to make good backups; second, you know Mozy will always offer a great price.
You can try Mozy for as long as your want for free, but you can only make 2 GB of backups. They have two paid plans for home users: a 50 GB plan for 1 computer that costs $5.99 a month and a 125 GB plan for up to 3 computers that costs $9.99 a month. You can also get discounts if you pay in advance for service. Combining in the discounts, Mozy costs 75% less than Dropbox—making it a great online backup solution for the thrifty.
Best Online Backup Provider #3: Carbonite
There are many kinds of backup storage to choose from, but in the online arena Carbonite combines some of the best features of Dropbox and Mozy. Plus it is one of the only online backup solutions to offer unlimited backup—making it a great solution for anyone with a lot of files to backup. Plus Carbonite costs only $54.95 a year—making it less expensive than any monthly plan from Dropbox or Mozy.
On the downside, Carbonite isn’t totally honest with you. For example, their unlimited online backup service is unlimited, but you have to dig on their website to discover that anyone who backs up too much is subject to bandwidth throttling. That means the more you backup, the slower Carbonite makes your connection until it’s impossible to truly make effective use of your supposedly unlimited backup.
Carbonite is still a great online backup solution for most people and it offers some innovative features. For example, you can restore your backed up files onto any other computer, including your iPhone, Android, or Blackberry.