Online Backup Services
July 25, 2006 8:48 PM   Subscribe

Should I use an online backup service to back up my computer?

I try to perform regular backups of my PC, but it's easy to forget. I stumbled across a web site for an company offering an online backup service that claims to automatically back up my data to a server on the Internet.

The service is reasonably priced (US$5 per month), and they say that they can back up an unlimited amount of data.

Are services of this type secure and reliable? Which ones should I consider using? Which should I avoid?
posted by Xazeru to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I find Mozy to be pretty good (link contains a referral, which gets me extra space - plain link here). It works in the background, and allows for up to 2GB of storage for free. There's a paid version, too, but I'm not sure what that offers.

There's also a useful comparison article here.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 10:48 PM on July 25, 2006

Never rely on anyone but yourself to back up your data.
posted by Mikey-San at 11:28 PM on July 25, 2006

Be sure to consider the privacy implications before signing up. Are you comfortable with a company that you know nothing about retaining what might be very personal files? And if so, are you also comfortable with transmitting the data to them unencrypted?
posted by Ø at 11:54 PM on July 25, 2006

I'm with Mikey-san. Trust no one with your bits.
posted by polyglot at 11:54 PM on July 25, 2006

@ Ø --

Mozy encrypts the files, and lets you choose your own encryption key too. I don't know about any of the other services out there, though.

Even with this, are there still reasons to worry in terms of privacy? I'm no expert on these things.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 12:28 AM on July 26, 2006

I've been pondering this myself given all the storage sites now popping up, including amazon. I think privacy is the key issue here. I might use a site to store some stuff like photos or music, but I wouldn't want to put anyhting personal at all in online storage. Sadly, in this day and age, if it's online it's too easy for the government to get their hands on it. See how all these ISP's and phone compnaies are buckling under to Bush, the RIAA and MPAA and such. This is just the tip of the iceberg IMHO.

I think that in addition to (or instead of) and online storage, you should get a nice external hard drive. I've got a 100 or 120 GB seagate which works just fine for occasional backups. I don't need anything fancy.
posted by bim at 6:26 AM on July 26, 2006

Seconding chorltonmeateater's recommendation of Mozy. The beauty of online backup is that its 1) automatic and 2 offsite.

I'm sure there are people who have the diligence to run a manual backup every day (not me!) and/or configure an automatic solution that works with an external hard-drive. But how many of them manage to get copies stored safely off-site on a regular basis? And how often? And if you're not storing off-site, what happens in the event of a power surge, fire or (as happened to me) burglary that wipes out ALL of your equipment?

I used to pay for @backup and now I use Mozy. Love it. More storage space for FREE than I got for $100/year with @backup. Caveat: the free version obligates you to submit your email address and they'll send you a weekly newsletter (which you're free to ignore or even filter out).
posted by zanni at 6:56 AM on July 26, 2006

Except that Mozy doesn't work for real computers, only for Windoze. Specifically, Mozy supports 32 bit Windows XP Home or Professional, preferably with NTFS. (
posted by TheRaven at 6:59 AM on July 26, 2006

I nth the suggestion to do it yourself.

I recently bought an external hard drive. I downloaded the free version of syncback and sync every night. Syncback does this automatically, but when my computer crashed, I futzed a password somewhere on reinstall, and so now it doesn't do it automatically.

So instead, I set myself an outlook reminder every night. It's so habitual now, that I usually do it before outlook bugs me about it.

Though, on preview, what zanni says makes sense. And now I have something else to worry about!
posted by misanthropicsarah at 7:31 AM on July 26, 2006

yea, TheRaven, and nobody who refers to 'my PC' would run Wind0ze!1212!! If you had a suggestion that could be framed as 'for people who run x, there is this alternative' it might have been worth posting.

on topic: I use the free version of Mozy. (paid is 5$/mpnth for 30Gb of space) My data isn't very sensitive (mostly assignments and hobby projects) so that's not an issue for me and I don't know how good they are with that, but it has a very easy setup and works nicely in the background. I haven't had a disaster to recover from yet, so I can't review that, but it looks simple. (I guess I should try it, huh?).

However good the service you find is, though, I would recommend at least the occasional backup yourself, onto CD's or an external drive, so that should the world end you still have some remnants of your data. Best case, IMO: automatic daily/whatever backups to an external drive and the online system.
posted by jacalata at 7:54 AM on July 26, 2006

Jungle Disk is fifteen cents a gigabyte, works on Windows, Mac, and Linux, has an open source version, and stores your data on (ultra-reliable) Amazon S3. (Previously.)

However, it just mounts as a regular drive - it doesn't help you manage backups.

Also using S3 as a back-end is ElephantDrive, which is free (for now) but is Windows-only (for now, they claim) and has all the transparency problems that most other backup solutions (e.g. Mozy) has.

Personally I don't trust in a backup solution that requires a particular software product, platform, or small startup company to remain in existence, which is why I'm using Jungle Disk and rsync to back up all my stuff. The filesystem format Jungle Disk uses is specified in the GPL'd source code, so anyone's free to write competing/alternative software.
posted by dmd at 8:07 AM on July 26, 2006

CD or DVD burner. DIY

posted by mogabog at 11:19 AM on July 26, 2006

1GB for a year for $10 at Online File Folders. It's a Go Daddy service that can be purchased alone. It even encrypts your files on the server. Many nice features, not to mention the easiest user interface I have seen. It's an especially good deal if you need a domain name as well. If you do, the domain is only $1.99 if you purchase a year of Online File Folders.

posted by Gerard Sorme at 12:13 PM on July 26, 2006

Err... correct me if I'm wrong, but on the server is exactly where you don't want the encryption to be taking place! You want the encryption to be taking place on your computer, before the files are uploaded to the server!
posted by dmd at 6:54 PM on July 26, 2006

« Older Midwest - East Coast Roadtrip   |   Should I get this TV? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.