Lee Hachadoorian on Jan 3rd 2011
The New York Times just ran 10 Ways to Get the Most Out of Technology. Two of the ideas were “Back up Your Data” and “Set up a Free File-Sharing Service”. Slightly puzzling to me was why these were two items instead of one, since it seems most of the back-up services (they suggest SOS Online Backup, Windows only) also work as file-sharing services (they suggest Dropbox, cross-platform) and vice versa. I’ve listed several of these services below, in roughly what I consider the order of their attractiveness, all things considered. And yes, SpiderOak is listed first because that’s the one I’m using.
for 100 GB
|2 GB Free?||Machines||Notes|
$50 educational pricing
|Dropbox||Cross-platform||$240||Yes||Unlimited?||Available in 50 GB|
|MozyHome||Windows/Mac||$54 unlimited storage||Yes||1||Backup only!|
|SOS Online Backup||Windows||$100||No||5||Available in 50 GB|
|Ubuntu One||Ubuntu Linux (Windows in beta)||$150||Yes||Unlimited||Available in 20 GB packs; Application-level syncing features|
Why do I think SpiderOak is the top choice? It was mostly process of elimination
- Mozy is inexpensive, but built in sync is a major bonus. I keep certain folders synced between my home and work computer, and it has been really nice to not have to deal with copying files to my external hard drive anymore. As far as I can tell, even though you can pay to add additional computers on your Mozy accout, the service does not sync files between the computers.
- It seems obvious that you would want to back up your files in whatever way you have them organized. Dropbox started as a file-sharing service, which is probably why its model is to have the folders and files you’re interested in all stored in one shared folder (called, naturally, the Dropbox folder). So while you can use it for backup, you would have to rearrange your entire hard drive to get it to work. It’s also pricier than the other services. Note that Dropbox says they are working on adding the ability to backup/sync/fileshare any folder or file anywhere in your filesystem.
- Since I’m using Ubuntu Linux, Mozy and SOS are out, though Mozy might still be a contender if you’re a Mac user. But if you’re interested in cross-platform sync, even a Ubuntu user could do better than Ubutnu One (no Mac client, Windows client still in beta).
- While the pricing of most of these is similar (DropBox is the major outlier), SpiderOak’s educational pricing (available to anyone with a .edu email address) is amazing for what they offer. Mozy is the cheapest if you compare SpiderOak standard pricing, but doesn’t do sync or filesharing.
There are many aspects of these services which I have not discussed, so you may have to look more closely to decide which one is right for you, but many of the services are similar. Almost all offer secure web access to backed up files, so if your laptop dies on the way to a conference (happened to me three years ago) you can download your presentation from the backup service’s website. Also, almost all are offering mobile apps as well, though I haven’t yet tried SpiderOak’s.
Backup is one of those things everyone knows they should do and never does. These online services make it really easy, and are more secure than backing up to CDs or an external hard drive. After all, if there’s a fire at home you could easily lose both your computer and your backups!
PS. If you happen to decide to subscribe to SpiderOak because of this post, please consider using this referral link: https://spideroak.com/download/referral/3a666a03312a3b93532ec23861f6d190
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