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Help me choose an online backup service

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Ok after a recent hard drive crash scare, I'm ready to finally bite the bullet and pay for an online backup service.

I do feel quite good about my local backup policies, but I am very poorly protected if there was ever a fire or home robbery, and I feel like it's time for me to address that.

The choices for online backup services are a bit overwhelming -- so let me try to be a bit specific about what I'm looking for.

Price:  It's going to have to be under $100 a year.
Capacity: I'd probably only use this for my coding and document backup, not backing up entire pc images (though that would be nice).  So a 100-500 gb maybe.

Use: My plan is to use this as the final emergency safety in case of fire or theft.  That is, it is very unlikely i will ever have to restore from these backups.  I have my own local backup process that backs up my files regularly to separate hard drives, and versioned backups of my documents -- so i will only need to get data from my online backup if there is a truly catastrophic disaster. In an ideal world i'd also be able to upload a couple of large 100gb full drive backup image files in addition to my documents, but if i can't do that i can live with that.

What I care about:

I like to have complete control over what is being backed up, when, where, etc.  I don't want some opaque thing meant for people who don't want to know details.  I want to be able to see exactly what it is doing and when, and have control over it.  I want to be able to see what's been backed up, how much space i have, etc.  I want flexibility in choosing which folders and file EXTENSIONS are backed up or ignored, and what the schedule is. BUT at the same time, I do not want to have to select every individual file that i want backed up one at a time.

What I don't need:

I don't really need mobile access or synchronization features -- i know that's something that many services are offering lately.  I won't be using this to access files or move them around.  I don't mind having these features -- i just don't need them.

What I've looked at:

I've only begun to look around at services.  Carbonite seems attractive to me.  I don't really need the "unlimited" space, but it wouldn't hurt.  From what i read though, it doesn't seem like it's super nice in terms of allowing you to control stuff, like which file types get backed up -- or to see and control things at a finegrained level of detail.

Acronis Online Backup actually looks surprisingly good to me.  From the screencasts I am impressed with the level of control and transparency.  I've had pretty good experience with Acronis, so that's another plus -- though i'm a bit skeptical of their tendencies to bloatware.  Its $50 a year for 250gb, which is in my pricerange.  It does look like going beyond 250gb is not an option, which is not great.

There are a ton more of these services (mozy, sugarsync, etc.) that i haven't looked into yet.

I have no idea how the cpu/resource use of these things compare.

So.. anyone gone through the process of evaluating these services have any recommendations?

I am using BeeCloud Backup (who are using Livedrive). I started with a free version for 500GB, and upgraded to a €2 per month version for unlimited backup size. Downsides: The Livedrive application / connection gives slow upload speed, 380kbps, and too much CPU usage when scanning. Everything else is fine. They are now keeping 1.6TB for me at €24 per year.

Edited: Funny; they just updated the desktop application right now! Maybe they've improved it further? It is too early for me to tell.

Hmm... I now realize that BeeCloud Backup is situated in EU. Do they have an American based server as well? I don't know. Livedrive is fine / the same, but more expensive:

Do you have a website or a blog?

We will offer you a free unlimited backup account (yes, you read this right, not 512GB but UNLIMITED), if you write about us on your blog or website !

Read how:
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Just trialed corbanite (in a virtual machine of course); it's not for me.  Not enough finegrained control and i dont like how it wants you to select and show files to be backed up.

I tried Acronis ONLINE backup, and I actually really liked the interface.  Unfortunately I have never before seen a process completely chew up and waste cpu cycles like the resident TrueImageMonitor.exe; it literally rendered my vmware session unusable, and this was while presumably doing nothing but waiting in the background.  Surely a bug in the software of some sort but that would be a completely unacceptable behavior on my real pc if it was eating anywhere near that many cpu cycles when doing nothing..

Since I run true image hard drive backup software, i notice that i already have trueimagemonitor.exe running in the background on my real pc (this is what i meant about acronis bloat); however it may mean that since i already have this running on my pc and it behaves locally, maybe i won't have the crazy cpu usage on my real pc.

Glad you're asking about it, because I've been thinking the same thoughts lately. To your requirements I'd only add that I'd rather not have to use yet another app specifically for online backup. I'm using four separate backup apps already (not all running at the same time, but still). Better to re-use tools I already have.

That pretty much excludes all the web-based online services :-)

Have you considered (s)ftp to your hosting provider? At Dreamhost I have the least expensive plan (ca $110 a year), and that includes 50 GB specifically for backup, outside of the /home directory. 50 GB may not be enough for your needs, but perhaps there's an ISP out there that can do better. You probably already use a backup app that does ftp, and in any case it can be easily automated in all kinds of ways.

And, most desktop backup apps (SyncBack, Backup4All, etc.) will give you the level of control that you need, plus encryption (which you didn't mention, but you're going to encrypt the backups, right? :-)


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