What's the best cloud backup system for my simple needs?
September 3, 2018 6:36 AM   Subscribe

I need to get some kind of proper cloud backup plan going. What will work best for me?

So, yeah. I don't expect that I'm going to need to back up more than about 5TB of data in the foreseeable future, and I probably won't need to back up more than one device (my laptop) either. I do have some of the data I care about on an external drive, so the service will need to be able to see that and work with it. Basically, I'm looking for the cheapest solution that will get the job done and that doesn't suck any more than necessary to actually deal with. It kinda looks like IDrive might be the way to go, but I'd love to get some actual advice rather than just looking at the dubiously-valuable comparison charts that come up in my searching. What online/cloud backup service would work best for my needs?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The to Technology (10 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Whatever you choose, consider how your data will be recovered in the event it gets lost. A family member had Carbonite as a backup service. Their drive crashed and they lost all their data. We started the restore process, and it would have taken 6 weeks for all their data to download at the slow restore rate they provided. We gave up and started a new computer from scratch. I personally use Backblaze because they will mail you a hard drive with all your data for recovery if needed.
posted by procrastination at 6:43 AM on September 3, 2018

What kind of data do you have? Photos, music, movies, layouts...what? It might help guide you to some specific solutions.

How tech-savvy are you? Are you looking for a push-button solution, or are you comfortable with some effort (like manually rotating external hard drives)?
posted by wenestvedt at 6:52 AM on September 3, 2018

I’m very happy with Backblaze for exactly this. The only times I have to think about it are when it’s trying to do an incremental backup and I need all my bandwidth or CPU, then I just pause it for an hour.
posted by supercres at 6:54 AM on September 3, 2018

I've been happy with Backblaze as well. I haven't had a catastrophic loss to see how they handle it, but I've heard good reviews. I like the fact I can go in from anywhere and grab a file I need from the backups, and that they'll send me a physical drive of my data if i need it.
posted by cgg at 7:11 AM on September 3, 2018

I've been happily using Crashplan for years, but they are discontinuing their consumer product soon. I'll be moving to Backblaze, having already surveyed the competition.
posted by snarfois at 7:38 AM on September 3, 2018

Like others, I use CrashPlan and am happy with it — but it is being discontinued, unless you pay for the small business version ($10/mo per device).

I lean toward replacing it with Backblaze in due course, but there are a couple of downsides to bear in mind:
  • if you delete a file or folder it is only possible to restore it from backup for 30 days after deletion. After those 30 days, the deleted files are gone forever.
  • Backblaze only does backups to the cloud, not backups to an external hard disk. In the event of data loss, restoring from a hard disk might be a lot easier and faster than restoring from the cloud. But you will need separate software to do this.

posted by matthewr at 7:52 AM on September 3, 2018

Why Backblaze vs. something else?
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:52 AM on September 3, 2018

I relied on the Wirecutter comparison of cloud backups, which seems detailed and high quality. Backblaze comes out on top, despite the issues mentioned above.
posted by matthewr at 7:59 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

Just in case it helps (please ignore otherwise), the following is a simplification of my backup scheme.
  • I figured out what really needed to be backed-up by separating out data from Operating System/Software, old files I'm hanging onto but I wouldn't cry over if they got lost, etc.
  • I got 2 of these 4 TB external drives
  • I wrote a script to copy all the files/folders that mattered (per the first point above) to one of them
  • Periodically (monthly?) I do the same thing to the other one and take it off-site to a secure/trusted location and bring the other one home
  • I survey the one I brought home (play some media, open some files, run a disk check) to make sure things look good
So, the one time cost of the above is about $250 (until you need to replace a drive down the line) plus your attention and gas to/from the off-site location (which you might be going near anyway). Its disadvantages are that you need to understand how to script backups (basically just copies NOT mirrors) and being reliant on just your home and off-site locations not both being destroyed or inaccessible (and anything anybody else mentions that I didn't think of).

My real system uses 2 computers (Linux & Windows) to cross-backup really important files to each other, a backup of the Linux file server's software setup (much easier to get up and running for basic computing than Windows, and can be used as a "place to stand" to get the other machine working, or vice versa), and use of this flash drive and my 30 gig paid Google Drive account for even further backup of "must have" stuff. Different scripts (tailored to the size and level of importance) copy to those other devices or cloud.

I just had occasion to use the above for restore this past February when ALL the internal hard drives in my Linux file server were toasted by a runaway power supply. I was able to get back almost everything that mattered, except for frequently changing files that had not been included in the nightly 128 gig flash drive backup process because it had filled-up weeks prior and I had not noticed, so those files were recovered stale. And granted, that success was with my enhancements, not the basic one I outlined at the top of this post.
posted by forthright at 8:57 AM on September 3, 2018 [1 favorite]

For $10/mo vs $5/mo, I feel like Crashplan Small Business is probably worth it over Backblaze. The main thing is that I will probably want to supplement with an external backup hard drive at some point, and I won't want to have to migrate over to Crashplan at that time. I also appreciate the fact that they preserve deleted data indefinitely rather than just for 30 days. Thanks y'all, I'll probably go with Crashplan.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:59 PM on September 3, 2018

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