Best cloud-based backup solution?
November 22, 2011 2:53 AM   Subscribe

What is the best cloud-based backup solution?

An associate writes: "I back up my desktop mac to a hard drive but I don't back up my laptop. Is there a cloud based backup you might suggest? I've heard of mozy and live mesh..."

I personally use Carbonite but I've never had to recover files so I dunno how reliable and easy to use it actually would be. This is something I've also been meaning to look into further for a long time, to see what else is out there.

What do Mefites recommend?
posted by parrot_person to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I've been using Backblaze for about a year (the Windows version), and it's been great for me. Easy to set up, doesn't take up much system resources, and just quietly backs everything up. It's saved my bacon at least twice in the last year: once when I accidentally deleted a photo folder and didn't notice for two weeks (it keeps files you deleted off your computer for 30 days) and once when a file got corrupted.
posted by gemmy at 3:07 AM on November 22, 2011

Here's three of the new generation backup companies that I've heard good things about:

Probably less of a 'back everything up' plan and more of a file sharing and 'if-I-must-have-a-free-backup-for-critical-documents' solution. You've probably heard of it, but I'll list it for completeness.
Advantages: Insanely easy to use. To backup a file, drag it into the dropbox folder on your computer. It also duplicates the same folder on multiple computers (or with multiple people).
Disadvantages: The free plan is good for critical documents, but it gets relatively expensive if you have a lot to back up. It also requires you to move your files into a different folder

gemmy's covered this one, I haven't used it myself.

Advantages: You can back up to your own computers directly, for free, instead of storing your information on the cloud. This is great for paranoid folks, but requires your other computer to be turned on. I also haven't used this personally.
posted by spec at 4:59 AM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

this is a couple years old, but I don't things have changed much.
posted by Blake at 5:53 AM on November 22, 2011

One service I won't recommend is iDrive. On paper, it looked pretty good. It also looked good after the initial install. Then came the backup process. Ugh.

It was not only horribly slow, but also it put such a burden on my CPU that my computer was unusable during the initial backup. Now I can understand that the first run is going to be tougher than others, but the estimated time of this backup was going to be something like days, not hours. As a person who depends on my computer for a living, I could not get locked out for that much time.

I could go on but here is the actual review on CNet. Obviously, the service works for some people, but my experience was so negative that it sort of shocked me that the company even exists.

Finally, after that experience, I opted for a second external drive as an incremental backup to my main drive and use Amazon Cloud Drive for a not very sophisticated bulk backup every couple of weeks. Eventually I will go with a better incremental to my existing backup drive, but it was a good stop gap.
posted by lampshade at 6:52 AM on November 22, 2011

I like Jungle Disk. They are owned by RackSpace, so likely to stay around.

Works on Windows, Mac, Linux. Can automatically run missed backups next time, or wake your computer to run them. Supports client-side encryption. The GUI is very simple to use. You can even check if the backups are working in your online control panel.
posted by devnull at 7:58 AM on November 22, 2011

The Wirecutter recommends Crashplan, fwiw.
posted by onell at 8:21 AM on November 22, 2011

On my Mac I like Crashplan, backing up to their service. Mostly because it's totally unobtrusive; too many backup programs take too many resources on your system.
posted by Nelson at 8:24 AM on November 22, 2011

If you have documents like driving licence scans, bank statements, etc that you wish to backup in an encrypted form I would recommend Truecrypt. It is not a backup solution in its own right - but it lets you create encrypted virtual disks of any size - and then store those in the cloud. I use it in combination with Dropbox.
posted by rongorongo at 9:08 AM on November 22, 2011

posted by Bangaioh at 9:40 AM on November 22, 2011

I like SugarSync. Tons better than Dropbox. You can sync multiple folders across machines (c:\temp\ on your laptop can be configured to sync to d:\laptopbackup\ on your desktop at home, for example), more space free at the start (5Gb), more space bonus per referral, and Gizmodo apparently ranked it as the best cloud storage solution of 2011. Seconding the idea of using TrueCrypt in tandem. Just create a TC container in a syncing folder, and store your stuff in it (or make a copy of your stuff into it). This way your highly personal sexytime videos with you and the sig other aren't insecurely stored in a cloud system which could be hacked. The SugarSync manager is fairly lightweight too.
posted by tra at 11:39 AM on November 22, 2011

Your friend should consider sharing out part of the hard disk on his desktop, and set up time machine on his Notebook to back up to it. That way he has a full backup of everything he can recover from. (he should exclude that directory from the backups he does of his desktop.)

On top of that, he can have key data backed up to the cloud so he has offsite backup, and can still back things up when he is away from home. I chose Crashplan because it had a good reputation and good pricing. The initial backup took a while because of my slow DSL connection, but the incremental backup is quick. I haven't had to recover any data yet.
posted by Good Brain at 12:43 PM on November 22, 2011

BackBlaze pissed me off by taking 3 business days to respond to an urgent request for help in restoring data. UNACCEPTABLE!

Mozy has recently changed their fee structure, really jacking the prices up for heavy users, but more importantly: their software interface was written by demented baboons. No matter what you want to do - change backup scheduled times, throttle uploads, whatever - the software has to first check your entire filesystem for changes. Really. Several techs, one after another, explained that's why it would take up to 10 minutes OR MORE for the software to respond after I opened up the interface. DO NOT USE MOZY.

I'm now on Carbonite. It's fast and responsive. Downloads are easy. So far, no need for tech support, so I can't say how good (or not) that is.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:19 PM on November 22, 2011

I recommend crashplan for os x. mozy sucks balls: don't use them.
posted by lalochezia at 9:52 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you so much for these answers! Very useful to hear about actual experiences when something goes wrong. I sent a link to this thread to my associate. I know he already has a DropBox account, but I'm not sure it would hold everything he wants to back up. BackBlaze sounds interesting (fast, easy, has a laptop location feature), but I certainly don't like the fact that they failed to respond to an urgent request in a timely manner. And Mozy seems like it's out (if their interface were written by parrots instead of baboons, it'd be a go).
posted by parrot_person at 10:22 PM on November 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

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