Our article series about online backup features which you absolutely need continues with a major topic that is oftentimes ignored and, unfortunately, many times only found in the fine print of several online backup services: bandwidth.
What’s Bandwidth & Why is it Important for Backups
Generally, when techs talk about bandwidth, they mean data transfer speed measured in seconds. Which breaks down to how many bytes can actually be uploaded or downloaded via your Internet connection in a specific time. This is important, as low bandwidth generally means pretty slow backups.
If you have 200GB of files to backup, of course, it will take much longer to backup them on a 512Kbit/s connection, rather than a cable connection which allows an upload twice or more (per second).
Many times, the Internet connection is a major limiting factor, but not the only one slow internet, network issues and throttled connection. Can all in some way slow down or kill a backup. Simply put, sometimes it’s not the backup service, but your Internet connection that’s the problem.
Unfortunately, there are some backup services that limit bandwidth. So technically, you could upload using a 10Mbit/s connection, but the service provider restricts your connection to only 512Kbit/s. This restriction saves them money because they can get more people to backup via the same connection.
Why Unlimited Bandwidth is Important
A negative example is Carbonite. They used to advertise with the term “unlimited online backup”, but can not continue to do so because they are not fully unlimited.
Unlimited bandwidth is important because it will allow a backup to be done as fast as possible. Even with unlimited bandwidth, it could take weeks to get all your files transferred. Limited bandwidth will even would increase the time it takes to upload files.
Carbonite offers “unlimited” storage while limiting the bandwidth on the other side. If you have more than 200GB to backup, we recommend services like SOS Online Backup and Backblaze. Carbonite limits the bandwidth after 35GB to “only” 2 megabit per second.
If you have more than 35GB, bandwidth decreases to about 512Kbit/s and if you’re a Home user with more than 200GB, it gets down to 100Kbit/s (which is very low).
Of course, bandwidth is not the most important part in a backup, but can considerably ease the pain of longer backup periods. Most of the time, a backup will run in the background and ideally, you shouldn’t even notice it while it transfers data to the provider’s servers.
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Always check on the features that you really need for a backup situation and read the fine print for any deal breakers. Alternatively, read our reviews to get a pretty good idea if a particular service has a catch.