Disaster can strike your computer at any time, and all your files could go with it.
My friend’s hard drive, containing thousands of digital photos, recently crashed without reason. She didn’t have her computer backed up, and she lost years of memories when she couldn’t recover her photos.
This type of catastrophe can easily be solved with online backup.
Here’s why you should subscribe to online backup, along with six services that could save you the headache and heartache from a lost or damaged computer.
Why online backup?
Online backup services upload your files to secure storage in the “cloud.” If your computer is lost, stolen, or breaks, you’ll be able to restore everything on your hard drive.
You could back up files on an external hard drive and store it at home or in the office. So why pay a monthly fee for online backup? A valid question, but there are many advantages with online backup, like:
- Your data is stored off-site. If your home burns down, that external hard drive stored in a drawer will likely be gone along with your computer.
- It’s automatic. Most online backup options offer automatic or scheduled uploads. There’s no need to remember to plug in an external hard drive or even click a button.
- Files are secure. Online backup services offer file encryption to protect your data if it’s stolen. External hard drives typically don’t.
- No need to purchase hardware. A 500GB hard drive could cost $60 or more, exceeding the yearly expense of many online backup services.
Choosing an online backup service typically comes down to cost, storage size, number of computers covered, and additional features. Many offer a free trial or free account with limited storage so you can try before you buy.
Here are some online backup options for a variety of needs. Keep in mind these are options for online backup, as opposed to cloud storage. Cloud storage, covered by articles like Online Storage Wars: Which Virtual Storage Is Best?, is for storing specific files. Online backup backs up your entire computer – programs, operating system, and files.
Best for: Month-to-month plans.
Cost: $5.99/month for 50GB on one computer. Free 2GB plan.
Mozy, along with all but one option on this list, offers automatic backups so you can restore your files if everything is lost. You decide when and what to store, and Mozy takes care of the rest in the background as you use your computer. If you’ve lost all your files, restoring them just takes one click.
Since backing up a lot of data can take hours or days, after the initial backup, Mozy uploads only the changed portion of files.
The basic plan comes with only 50GB of storage, which might not be enough to back up everything on your hard drive. Upgrading to a 125GB plan costs $9.99/month, with additional space available in 20GB increments for $2/month.
Best for: Unlimited data with a variety of plans and features.
Cost: Starts at $59 per year for unlimited storage for one computer. Free to try for 15 days.
Carbonite includes similar features to Mozy: automatic, continual backup of partial files and easy restoration. It offers five different plans with a variety of service options. While space on “Home” plans is technically unlimited, a downside is Carbonite says upload speeds will “slow noticeably” after 200GB of storage.
Users can access files from anywhere, including on the mobile app or from a Web browser.
External hard drive backup is available for extra protection, but you’ll have to upgrade to the $99/year plan to get it.
Carbonite offers “Courier recovery,” delivering a hard version of your backup, but only on the $149/year plan and above.
Unfortunately, there’s no discount for adding extra computers on”Home” plans and adding an extra device costs $59 or more, based on your plan.
Best for: Unlimited backups on one or two computers.
Cost: $5/month for unlimited storage on one computer, $5/month per additional device. Free 15-day trial.
Backblaze came in as the cheapest option on the list for unlimited storage. Subscribing for a full year of Backblaze costs $50, saving 17 percent compared to Carbonite.
Unlike Carbonite, Backblaze does not throttle uploads after reaching a certain backup size.
If you have an external hard drive, you can back it up with the same account at no additional cost.
Don’t want to download files to restore your computer? Order a USB drive ($99) or hard drive ($189) to restore your data instead.
Best for: Unlimited backups for up to 10 computers.
Cost: $5.99/month unlimited storage on one computer, $13.99/month for two to 10 computers. Free 30-day trial on “+” plans and free version available.
Crashplan offers the best pricing on this list for backing up several computers. Unlimited storage for up to 10 machines costs a flat rate of $13.99 per month.
If you’ve decided you love Crashplan and want to lock in service for four years, you can save $97 off the single-computer price or $242 off the family unlimited plan.
With Crashplan Free, you can back up to a local device or a friend’s computer at no cost.
Best for: Lower costs for less storage and avoiding fees for each computer.
Cost: Starts at $2/month with 5GB of storage. Additional storage costs $0.15 per gigabyte.
Jungle Disk charges only for storage you actually use. It’s a deal for backing up only a few gigabytes, but storing 50GB will cost more than Mozy and other options.
Unlike other services, Jungle Disk doesn’t charge for each additional computer, which can make it a better deal if you have several devices to hook up.
If you’re picky about where your files are stored, Jungle Disk lets you choose between Rackspace Cloud File Service or Amazon S3.
Best for: Users who don’t need automatic backup and want to share files.
Cost: Free for 2GB account, starts at $9.99/month for 100GB of storage.
Dropbox is different than the other options on the list as it’s more for virtual storage than an online backup service.
When you install Dropbox, a dedicated folder is created on your computer. Files in the Dropbox folder are stored locally and also sync to the “cloud” whenever they’re updated.
There isn’t an option to back up your entire computer automatically, but you can save important files to be backed up automatically in the Dropbox folder.
Free users can earn an extra 500MB of storage for every new user referred, up to 18GB.
Have a favorite online backup service? Let us know on our Facebook page.
Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.