Research Project: online back up

With so much of our lives existing exclusively in digital format disaster recovery has become an increasing concern. I have two back ups of all primary data but have been increasingly worried about the fact that most of the time those back ups are far too close to the original for comfort. A recent visit by a friend who had his laptop AND back up hard drive stolen in the same hit prompted me to start exploring online back up options. A storm here last night that destroyed one of my back ups was the motivation for writing and publishing my findings. This article explores several of the options currently out there and takes a stab at a recommendation based on my own personal requirements and an unofficial poll I conducted on Twitter.

Under review are:



1. back up files from a Mac: the first retirement is CloudBerry – as a Windows only solution exploiting the cloud service of Amazon S3 it looks powerful and useful, but not for me;

2. back up files on external disks: in my case this rules out Carbonite, Mozy, JungleDisk and SugarSync, but I shall explore some of the relative merits of these apps before moving on. If you have one Mac or PC then your options depend on two approaches to back up: unlimited storage but a 30 day retention period for files you might have deleted or a limit on your online storage but no expiration of your back up files; JungleDisk is the exception to this as it, like CloudBerry, leverages Amazon’s S3 storage and charges you a monthly fee for the storage you use and a fee for upload/download – while the most flexible approach this can get expensive for the individual user. If you never delete anything and feel you are never going to need a version of a file more than 30 days old then Mozy or Carbonite are both good options: the main difference is the pricing model rather than the technology as Mozy charges you monthly while Carbonite charges annually. If you have multiple computers but no files on external drives then SugarSync could be a good option but only if you require an online folder that syncs among multiple computers, if not then your best option and a cheaper option is:


SafeCopy backs up multiple Macs and PCs, running Windows or Linux, with multiple external drives to a single shared online space; all files can be accessed via any of the registered computers on the account, a web interface from any computer on the Internet or your iPhone; it offers tiered storage starting at 150GB with no expiration on versioned files or items you may have deleted from the source computer.

So my vote goes to SafeCopy.

2 thoughts on “Research Project: online back up

  1. Dale Kronkright

    Titus- I had no idea what the monikers were but had a gut feeling I’d better follow you on this Twitter thread. Nice work & nice writing. Totally get it now & I appreciate the analysis. I hafta use a PC with analytical equipment & reports while otherwise preferring my native Mac environment for high-productivity & creative multimedia. SafeStor sounds like it will fit to a T! Tx!-

  2. John Tucker

    Good comparison. SafeCopy is good. A couple others you might want to look into. IDrive works on Windows and Mac, and Linux (with a little work). SpiderOak is cross platform. Windows, Mac and Linux and hs syncing as well. I believe both support external drives as well.

    It would be great if you could drop by my site and leave your opinions on the various services as well. Good luck.

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