Backing up your data has always been a smart practice. Hardware failures, user accidents, and malicious software can all very quickly erase important documents, sentimental photos, or carefully organized media collections. The old methods for backing up your data, like buying an external hard drive or setting up multiple computers, is still effective, but costly and time consuming. With the help of these online services, you can backup your data in the cloud and let these services handle the details for you.
1. Dropbox (Windows, Mac, Linux, and mobile platforms; free up to 2GB, $9.99 per month up to 50GB, $19.99 per month up to 100GB)
The reigning king of online backup is Dropbox, with its unique sync software that enables simple drag and drop copying. Once installed, it functions just like a folder on your desktop, making it the easiest to use service possible. It’s very popular among software developers, meaning that plenty of other programs exist to make this software even more powerful and versatile. Dropbox is a perfect replacement for a thumb drive.
2. Mozy (Windows, Mac; free up to 2GB, $4.95 for unlimited storage)
While Dropbox is all about making your key files available anywhere, Mozy is all about cheap backups for your important data. While it’s not quite as feature-rich as Dropbox, it will automatically backup all your specified files on a regular schedule, save past versions of your work, and minimizes network hogging by copying only files that have changed since the last backup. Mozy is a perfect replacement for an external hard drive, though for a small fee they will send hard-copy backups of your data for faster transfer.
3. CrashPlan (Windows, Mac, Linux, Open Solaris; free software, unlimited storage for $4.50 per month)
CrashPlan is very similar to Mozy, offering slightly cheaper storage in the cloud, automatically backing up designated files, and presenting an easy user interface for arranging and scheduling your backups. CrashPlan’s biggest feature is that their software is available for free, allowing you to set up your own home network of computers as storage backups. Even if you don’t want to use their storage, you can simplify your own backups with the client software. CrashPlan is the perfect replacement for ad-hoc home networking.
4. iDrive (Windows, Mac; free up to 2GB, varying rates for larger storage)
iDrive is similar to DropBox, trading features in favor of larger space and lower prices. It supports save versioning up to 30 generations of a single file, mapped drive support, file locking, and web-based management of your folders across multiple PCs. While it lacks the tremendous support and attention of DropBox, it is more than competitive on pricing and storage options.
5. Carbonite (Windows, Max, unlimited storage for $4.58 per month)
Carbonite is very similar to Mozy. It is slightly cheaper, and targetted toward a very similar audience. By incrementally and automatically backing up any folders and files you specify on a schedule which you configure, Carbonite efficiently automates your information backup into the cloud. The small price difference with Mozy is offset by the lack of a hard-copy option for restoring your data, so be ready for long, large downloads if you need to retrieve your data after an accident.
6. SOS Online Backup (Windows, Mac; $19.95 per year up to 2GB, $29.95 per year up to 5GB, and $49.95 per year up to 15GB)
SOS offers separate products for home users, business users, and enterprise users, providing the broadest diversity of feature and storage options. The home interface is famously simple to use, and includes the same robust versioning features, simple file sharing, and unlimited access across any number of PCs to your data. It is the most expensive option here, but it is also the most secure and feature-rich.