Finally! Stop Forgetting About Your Backups

Posted: May 5th, 2010

Photo by JS.C (Flickr)

Photo by JS.C (Flickr)

Here’s an eternal question for you. How often do you perform a backup of important files on your computer?

Weekly? Whenever you get around to it?

If you’re like me, you would fall into the “oh shit it’s been a while better do one” category. Obviously this is highly fallible since, potentially, I could lose quite a lot of work in case a catastrophe happens. Really though, if you back up even once a week, there could still be a loss of data in case your hard drive decides to retire.

Losing data has happened to me exactly two times. One from hard drive failure and the other due to theft. I can tell you first hand that spending a week trying to recover a small portion of your data trully sucks.

I can also say it’s a safe bet that this will happen to you at some point (I just jinxed you).

At the start of this year, though, I began to use online backup services to handle this chore too easy to remember to do yourself. Online backups offer the advantage of backing up data automatically and on a daily basis. Also, once all your files are initially uploaded, from then on, they only backup new or updated files and don’t hog all the memory on your computer

Now, I only wish I had done this sooner.

So what are online backup services? Here are some of the recommended favorites:

Carbonite

This was my choice and I haven’t been disappointed by it. One great feature is that it saves changed versions of files for up to 90 days so you can easily recover those edits you didn’t intend to make.

The only downside is that it can only be used on a single computer. Therefore, if you have a desktop at home and a laptop for the road, you’ll need two separate accounts. Also, you have to manually backup video and installation files since this isn’t done by default.

Pricing is 55 USD/year for unlimited space.

Mozy

Since Carbonite only backs up a single computer, I utilize Mozy, which offers a free backup up to 2 GB, for my laptop. Otherwise the pricing is 4.95 USD/month (or 55 USD/yearly) for unlimited space. If you don’t have so much data this is the best option.

Similar to Carbonite, Mozy saves changed versions of files but for up to 30 days. It also can only be used on a single computer, a gripe I have with online backups.

SOS Online Backup

A PC Magazine editor’s choice. SOS offers an easy-to-use interface, backup multiple computers, file sharing (not offered with Carbonite/Mozy) and, not to mention, saves changed file versions forever.

A downside to SOS, though, is that it only offers up to 15 GB of storage which means you’d have to skip those mp3s and videos.

Pricing is yearly at 20 USD/2 GB, 30 USD/5 GB and 50 USD/15 GB.

Jungle Disk

If you need the ability to share files, backup multiple computers and want the ability to retrieve an old file version from anytime in the past with unlimited space, this one is it. Its essentially SOS with no limit storage. Had I known about this service sooner, I probably would have opted for this.

Their pricing structure is a bit weird so crunch the numbers at your own risk:

2 USD/month
Plus $.15 per GB of storage used per month
Plus $.10 per GB of data uploaded
Plus $.15 per GB of data downloaded

* * *

Whichever one you decide, or if you even use one not listed here, take my advice and have one installed. One less worry (and one less bigger worry after data loss) makes all the difference.

For more information on Carbonite, Mozy and SOS, view PC Magazine’s detailed review of these backups.

More on the author, Johnny Spence
Johnny is the founder of The Freelance Rant and a freelance web programmer with 8 years in the business. Have a visit at his company Oscarrr!web or see what he's up to on Twitter.

5 Comments. Join In!

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    May 5th, 2010 at 9:03 pm

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  • Jon Buscall

    May 5th, 2010 at 9:11 pm

    Interesting review. I’ve been hearing good things about Carbonite from US friends but hadn’t realised it only worked with 1 machine at a time.

    I use Time Machine to back up a couple of Macs in my office and DropBox and Gmail for storing those extra special files. Will check out Jungle Disk now. Hadn’t heard of it. Thanks for the tips!
    .-= Jon Buscall´s last blog ..Liverpool FC Are a Brand with a Communications Crisis =-.

  • Johnny

    May 6th, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    @Jon I just had a look and had no idea that OS X has a built in backup system in place. You’re privileged!

    If the day ever came where Windows finally utilizes a similar integrated backup, I doubt I would trust it anyway.

  • Mickey

    May 6th, 2010 at 11:34 pm

    I’ve designed my workflow so that it’s essentially backed up by default. Since I work from three different PCs (desktop, laptop, netbook), it was important to keep things synced between the three. I use the premium version of DropBox (up to 50GB allowed; I think I’m using about 8), Evernote and Gmail. Between those, all of my computers have the same files, so if I’m cranking away on my desktop or meeting a client at a coffee shop with my netbook, everything I need is right there.

    Of course, this has the advantage of being an automatic backup too, since everything is synced to the cloud. The only real downside is the privacy angle (what if one of those services get hacked?), but so far, so good.

    I haven’t done a real “backup” in a while, and I love it! 🙂
    .-= Mickey´s last blog ..Where’s the personal service? (I’m talking to you, Sears and Jim Tidwell Ford) =-.

  • Johnny

    May 7th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    @Mickey Your the second one that uses DropBox here and it’s looking more like the best choice to me. I have to sync between a laptop and desktop too and use another service for that so having the backup and sync in one would really save my day!