I upload a great deal of my writing to my online portfolio at Writing.com, and I save work on my WIP at the end of every writing session to a USB Flash Drive. But here's the whole truth: I start a lot of stories that never get out of the idea stage. Their documents sit in files I've never backed up. Only about 10% of all my digital photos are archived at Shutterfly.com. The other 90% are on my hard drive. Not backed up.
I believe personal hard drives and home storage devices of all kinds are endangered species, as much so as paper books and CD/DVDs. The future is all streamed, all virtual. Including our data file storage.
Today I started researching online computer file back-up options. I knew about Carbonite from word-of-mouth and then a recent TV commercial, so I started at their website. Then I Googled 'online backup' and a slew of companies and articles popped up. I had no idea there were so many options to choose from.
Here's what I've learned: Finding the right online backup company comes down to deciding what features are most important to you. Things to consider are:
How many PCs do you own to be backed up?
Do you have only Microsoft machines, only Apple machines, or both?
How much data (or how many gigabytes [GBs]) do you envision backing up?
And, do you want to be able to share backed up files (ie: photo albums or Word Docs) with other, remote users?
I read a thorough article by Michael Muchmore for PCMAG.com (published 10/28/2010) discussing the site editors' top online backup picks. (Read the whole article here -- seriously, it's great!) Basically, it boiled down to this:
For $54.99 per year, you get unlimited storage for just ONE PC. Muchmore says, "Carbonite is a mature online backup service, but it lacks many desirable features you'll find in the competition. It offers unlimited remote backup storage, and handily marks backed-up files in Windows Explorer. It also has a good Mac version and a so-so iPhone app. But an account only covers one PC and its backup servers aren't geographically redundant. It also lacks file sharing or viewing, live protection, and doesn't back up external or network drives."
IDrive (Spring 2010)
For $4.95 per month per PC, you get 150GB storage space. Muchmore says, "IDrive's support for up to five computers in one account, version saving, Web interface and fast operation are welcome, but you can't mix Macs and PCs, and there are still some rough edges, compared with the competition. Still, the service is much improved since our last review."
For $10 per month, you get 50GB storage space on unlimited PCs. Muchmore says, "Already-impressive beta service MiMedia offers hands-off, automated backup, the ability to play media files online, and a cloud-based disk drive. For more control over the upload process and backup set, SOS has it beat, and for simple syncing, DropBox is a better bet. But if you want anywhere access to your digital media, you could do a lot worse than the reasonably priced and well-designed MiMedia."
For $54.95 per year for only ONE PC. Muchmore says, "Mozy improves ease of use and setup, but still supports just one computer per account and doesn't let you back up network or removable drives. That keeps it a step behind the competition."
Norton Online Backup 2.0
For $50 per year you get 50GB storage on up to 5 PCs. Muchmore says, "With this release, Norton has brought its online backup service's features into the mainstream. Support for multiple PCs, including Macs, in one account and a slick Web-based user interface make this a Norton Online Backup 2.0 a real contender."
SOS Online Backup Home Edition 4.7.4
For $9.95 per month for 5 PCs and up to 50GB. Muchmore says, "SOS still offers more than other online backup providers: multiple PC coverage, external and network drive backup, a local backup app, and an excellent iPhone app. Its Live Protect that watches folders for file changes and backs up immediately. In sum, SOS delivers more than any other online backup service."
Personally, I feel myself leaning toward Norton, because I have been very happy with their Anti-Virus software for years and trust in the quality of their company. Also, I work on a Microsoft desktop now but anticipate adding a MacBook to my office (well, I dream of the day...), so I like that Norton interfaces both platforms.
Most of these companies offer free trial versions. I'm considering trying a couple out. The advantage to this, in addition to prolonging the time when I actually have to pay for the service :p, is that I will be able to make a more informed decision. The disadvantage is spreading my data across corners of cyberspace. I mean, these companies swear their storage centers are super-encrypted and secure, but, come on. Hackers are like cockroaches. They can squeeze into impossibly small access spaces. My files = my identity, after all.
Anyone all ready using online backup? I'm interested in recommendations and hearing your experiences. Please share!