Selecting the best online backup service is key to data management and disaster recovery. Whether you call it “managed services,” “software as a service” or “cloud computing,” the fact is that more than ever, businesses and home computer users are turning to online sources for activities they used to perform in-house. This is especially true in the realm of disaster recovery. Backing up critical business or personal data used to be a hassle of configuring tricky backup software, paying for storage sources like tapes or external drives and storing the data offsite. Realizing an opportunity, online backup providers are now providing convenient and easy backup service at much lower cost than DIY options. The only real chore now is to determine which company offers the best online backup choice for you.
All online backup companies provide the same service, which is to give you the ability to upload files to their online storage in case of emergency. So which should you choose for your home or business? Determining the best online backup service depends on many factors but the key elements are cost, file options, scheduling and extras. Evaluating these areas, online backup shoppers can decide which option fits their needs.
Online backup pricing varies depending on the number of computers and the amount of data being backed up. There are free options available if you don’t have much to back up. These offerings are targeted at home computer owners and are limited to a single computer and up to a few gigabytes of storage. This makes these free options unsuitable for most small businesses and today’s multi-PC households.
Paid services can range from $50 – 200 annually, with the more expensive choices offering unlimited data storage or high amounts of space for unlimited PCs. To choose which is right for your home or business, evaluate what you’re backing up and how many computers you need to recover.
Choosing what to back up is crucial. After all, this is the whole reason you’re trying to determine the best online backup offering. Free and inexpensive online backup services often set these options in stone, only backing up the typical storage folders like My Documents in Windows or the User files on a Mac. This just is not enough for anyone who has done customization or who needs to restore computers and not just documents.
Better online backup service providers allow their customers to get more in depth when choosing files to recover. These services offer a directory tree with checkboxes or even a right-click menu for easy file selection. This type of flexibility allows customers to pick any file they want, from typical documents to vital system files, with just a few easy clicks.
The next important consideration when choosing an online backup solution is scheduling. Deciding when to backup is important, especially with the number of changes most of us make to important documents. What good is it to restore a file that you’ve edited many times since the last backup?
The no-frills scheduling option consists of merely telling the online backup service when to back up. Schedule the time, such as “every Monday bat 2am,” and you’re all set. This is the simplest method and is the sole solution offered by the more inexpensive companies. The more effective options are continuous backup and hybrid.
Continuous backup runs as a service in the background and uploads copies of your files when changes are detected. The hybrid solution will back up certain files, chosen by you, continuously while backing up others at set intervals. This offers maximum flexibility and protection. Aside from cost, the drawback to continuous and hybrid solutions is that they can cause web and PC performance hits from time to time. They are also more expensive.
When comparing multiple online backup solutions, most consumers eventually narrow down their choice to a handful of companies offering similar services at a similar price. Now it’s time to weigh the extras. A popular extra is local backup. Why wait for files to download when it’s time to restore? Some online services supply their subscribers with free software that will back up their chosen files to an external hard drive for quick local restores. Other key additional options are file sharing, image backup and disc mirroring. These extras offer more convenience for customers and, if you need them, will aid in choosing among online backup options.
Online backup is fast becoming a convenient and even vital option for today’s computer-dependent households and businesses. With so many providers offering a multitude of outstanding products, comparing price, file choices, scheduling options and extras is a crucial first step toward figuring out which is best for you.