Storing files is important. Computers don’t last forever, and the chances of losing precious memories or necessary work documents are greater than ever. Having an external hard drive, backup DVDs, or flash drives are a good way not to lose information, however those things can become corrupted and the data could be lost forever.
Online backup gives users a way to keep all their information safe. By using an online service to save those precious documents, the consumer never has to worry about losing something. Not only is the data protected from computer failures, but it can also help shield these files from people who may be interested in stealing it.
Portable drives, even though they reside in the consumers’ homes, can still be taken. In a way they are an even easier target than a traditional computer simply because of their size. While online backup services can be compromised, they are constantly monitored in order to keep the data that resides there safe.
How to Get Started
Getting started takes research. Consumers who are unfamiliar with using online backup services should take their time and compare the different companies. Online backup reviews can help to narrow down which of the businesses would be the best to work with.
Consumers need not to just look at the reviews to make a determination. Also look at what the provider offers. How much room do they offer? Do they restrict the file size? What may seem like a great choice could be too restrictive for a particular need.
Once research is completed it is as simple as signing up with the chosen company and downloading their software client. Then the process just includes uploading the files to be saved and following the software protocol to copy the information to the online servers.
Online Backup vs Cloud Storage
Most consumers have heard of online backup and cloud storage. However, there is very few that understand exactly what the difference is.
The biggest difference is online backup services allow users to backup and restore files. That’s it, no other bells and whistles. Consumers wet the portion of their systems they want saved and that information is transferred to the company’s servers.
Cloud storage is different. Instead of saving just the portion of the hard disk drive consumers choose, this service allows users to sync their files. They still get to choose which information is backed up, however, it is not just a one-time thing. Any time a change is made, the new documents are uploaded to the server. Customers also get full access to their files from anywhere at any time using different types of devices.
All-in-all, backup services are typically cheaper than cloud services. The monthly or yearly fee is lower mainly because users aren’t doing as much with the information that is stored there. Once the data is there it stays until it is needed to restore a missing file or document.
In addition to being able to sync files, some cloud backup services also offers versioning. This means there may be multiple copies of the files, each a different version. Consumers can restore the documents from a previous revision, if the newest data is needs to be overwritten.
Who are the Major Contenders
Several major contenders can give consumers who are new to backup can start with during their search. Each of these are vying for the title of best cloud backup. These companies include:
JustCloud is a cloud backup and syncing service. This company offers unlimited online storage, syncing, and sharing of files on a consumer’s hard drive. Customers can access their data from anywhere even using the free mobile app on their devices. Another plus is this service can cover different computers not just a single drive. Users can set the process to be automated and scheduled to be performed when there is no one on the system.
Carbonite is probably one of the most heavily advertised cloud backup solutions. This service can be completely automated to synchronize folders on the user’s hard dis drive at any time. This program only backs up one computer at a time, however it does allow access of data from anywhere. Depending on the plan, users may also be able to save files from an external hard-drive and video files as well. Businesses can also take advantage of this service.
Backblaze doesn’t require consumers to pick and choose which files they want to backup. Instead, after downloading the software, the user’s entire hard-disk drive is saved to the server. There are no limits to file sizes or network speeds and everything is completely encrypted. This service also allows consumers to save data from smartphones with the mobile applications. Unlike some services, customers with an external hard-drive will not have to pay extra to secure the information.
Sugarsync, like so many others, puts the choice of which files to be saved in the hands of the user. In addition to backing up computers, this service also works with a variety of mobile devices. Data can be accessed from anywhere and does not have to be downloaded back to the hard drive in order to modify the documents. However, with this cloud backup service there is a limit to the amount of information that can be stored. Plans start at 100GB and go up.
Crashplan differs from their competitors by giving consumers a hybrid cloud situation. Consumers are able to store backups in a local area as well as online. Customers can still access their files from any location. Additionally there is no limit to file size, bandwidth caps, or file-type restrictions.
How We Rate Online Backup Services
When researching cloud backup reviews it’s important to understand how we rate the services. We try to be impartial and look at the company for what it can offer its consumers and how well it acts under test conditions.
We look at these main categories for each company:
- Who is the service for
- How does it compare
- About the company
- How to Sign up
- Speed of Service
- How to Use
Who is the service for?
When asking the question “who is the service for” we are trying to help users determine if it is for an advanced consumer or someone who has had limited use of this type of software. The question really is how easy is this software to use? Some platforms have a higher learning curve than others and customers need to know that before purchasing the service.
How does it compare?
Comparing companies is the best way to ensure that users are getting the service they need. By pitting similar businesses against one another, customers can see who has the best features and where the service stacks up when facing competitions. Sometimes this is the best way for potential consumers to get an accurate read on what is being offered.
About the company
We tell the consumer information about the company. This data could include when the service was founded and by whom. Also included, is any funding they many have received and links to their site, blog, and any other features that may be helpful to a consumer when making a choice.
How to Sign up
In this section we explain to consumers how to go about starting service with the company. This includes how to download any software that is necessary. This area will also contain any free trial information as some companies will offer 15 to 30 days at no charge and may not require a credit card to activate.
The speed of uploads and downloads is important. Consumers don’t have a lot of time on their hands. We test the time it takes to save approximately 10GB of data and then how long it takes to restore that same information. Some platforms restrict how much bandwidth can be used at a time, so the transfer will be slower than those that don’t have such a restriction.
This area of our reviews also tells you if that time was acceptable or not.
How to use
In this area of our review, we walk users through how to use the software. From downloading the software client, to configuring it this information can take some of the headache out of the process for new users. It can also show how difficult setup is so that those who don’t have a lot of time, or are not comfortable around computers can find a service that will better meet their needs.
The “How-to” area also covers restoring files from the software client.
Security is an important feature, especially in this day and age. Consumers need to know how their files are being protected. Some services offer end-to-end encryption while others don’t. There are also providers that allow for personal private keys. All this information is lined out in our security section.
Major Pitfalls to Avoid
There are many mistakes that can be made, especially by first time users, when it comes to choosing a company. The process goes smoother if these common errors are avoided.
Consumers need to understand what type of limitations are imposed by the service provider. Some will offer unlimited backups, however there will be a restriction on the size of the file. There may be bandwidth moderation as well. Users don’t always know how much bandwidth is being used and that can cause a problem later.
Sync vs Static
Not all offer syncing ability. Some of them will save what a user wants to save and that’s the end of it. Others check the consumer’s computer for changes and then upload the new information. It is important to understand which service is being purchased. If it there is no synchronization ability, the customer will have to go and tell the software to transfer new documents and files to the server.
Most online backup services allow data to be accessed from anywhere at any time. However, not all products have this feature. Some have the information sitting in an archive that requires a restore before the information is usable again. For consumers who may need to view the files first, this is not a viable option.
Understand Their Security
Consumers want their files to be protected, however some companies only encrypt the data in transit and not while on their servers. That means any of their employees can actually read customer information without anyone knowing it. Customers need to understand exactly how the documents are stored and who has access to them.
Doing research and asking the right questions can help consumers get the best online backup service for them. What may be good for one group or company is not necessarily going to be the first choice for someone else. It is all subjective but the most powerful tool to have is knowledge.