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Online Data Backup Software

25 Mar

This a long overdue post about my experiences shopping for online data software.  There are plethora of companies out there that provide this type of service. Before I talk about my experiences, let’s quickly review the reasons for using an online backup provider.

1) Hard drive crashes can happen at anytime, without warning,  even if you backup regularly. It is very easy to have important documents or photos slip through the cracks because you forgot to back up on any certain day.

2) If there is a fire, natural disaster, etc. your computer equipment could be destroyed. This includes your data backed up on  an external hard drive that is sitting in your home or office.

3) Your external data storage device could fail or become corrupted.

4) Professional data retrieval from a mechanically failed hard drive is a slow, very costly, and unpredictable process.

I am sure there are other reasons too. The most important thing to consider is the cost versus benefit factor. The costs are relatively small if your work and time are important. For less than $75 a year, isn’t the extra protection worth it?

I really didn’t know much at all about online data backup providers, but learned there are quite a few of them available. Two of the largest appear to be Mozy and Carbonite.  Both competitors offered unlimited data backup storage for about $54.95 per year. The biggest difference between the two is that users could not back up from an external hard drive using Carbonite’s services. Additionally, Carbonite doesn’t seem to have as favorable online reviews as Mozy. Mozy seemed like the logical selection for me until I realized they raised their prices considerably about a month ago.  Mozy now limits its storage capacity for personal users to 50 GB for a cost of about $60.00 per year.

That was enough of a catalyst for me to start shopping for alternative providers.  There are quite a few websites that provide comprehensive reviews on online data backup providers and information is not that hard to come by. What is a little more difficult and time consuming is differentiating between the competition on attributes other than price. After all, isn’t reliability just as big of issue? If your online data backup provider can’t secure your data…well, Houston we have a problem.

Some of the factors I took into consideration were how long has the company been in business and how big is it? Are there any negative reviews on the company? Also, functionality of the software can be an issue as well. How difficult is their program to use? I don’t think anyone interested buying these services wants to “test drive” the software of each provider to determine which is the most user friendly. One other issue that people seemed to have strong opinions on is the upload speed of the software. Backing up large amounts of data can take a long time and some services are faster than others.

One final consideration that I explored was the level of technical support offered. I called three different companies to ask questions about their products. One company was clearly better than the others in terms of the amount time I had to spend on the phone to get a live rep. Ultimately, I narrowed my decision down to three companies’ Backblaze, Crashplan, and Idrive.  Backblaze and Crashplan offer unlimited storage for around $50 per  year. Idrive offers 150GB for about the same price. That is a considerably more space than what Mozy currently offers.

All three companies are well reviewed and offer slightly different services. The most notable difference is with Crashplan, who offers a kind of “social networking” of backup services where the user can back up data to and from other computers as well. I eliminated Backblaze because they were the most recent and smallest of the companies to hit the market. I personally wanted a company that had more of a market presence, reputation, and employees. Meanwhile, Crashplan had some extremely favorable reviews online and certainly seems to be on the up and up. However, after doing some research, there seems to be some issues with their software corrupting the files of their customers; at least according to one very angry and persistent customer who blogs about it online. This company’s website offers a free forum and I read about some issues people were having with the software on it.

So, by process of elimination, I chose Idrive.  Their customer service is first-rate and their upload speeds are excellent. It took me approximately eight hours to upload 11 GB of data. The bottom line is this: it is important to back up your data online and it is a personal decision as to what company you want to use to do so.  Don’t settle on one company without first shopping around, Pricing aside, there are many other benefits and features to be learned about by comparison shopping. In the long run, it’s worth it.

By the way, if you decide to use Idrive in the future please let them know I referred you as they provide referral bonuses to their customers. Hopefully you found this blog useful. If so, I’d love to hear from you!

What Happens When Your Hard Drive Crashes?

20 Oct

When your hard drive goes be prepared to spend some time re-doing just about everything. It’s like losing your cell phone and not having all your numbers backed up.That’s what happened to me last week that’s why I am writing this post.  My hard drive went out about ten days ago – it warned me that it was failing and I started backing up like crazy! Fortunately, I’ve been fairly diligent about backing up all my files to external hard drives so it wasn’t a catastrophe. I have two external hard drives and I try to back up all my data to both sources. One source I keep in a safe deposit box so I still have my images in case my place burns down or floods when I am away.

I think sometimes we take for granted how much information we store on our computers. We are continuously adding things over times whether it be: images, software/updates, websites, word documents or spread sheets, pdf files, games, Photoshop plug-ins and actions  etc.

 That being said, I’ve been very fortunate that I have friends who help in times like these. I honestly couldn’t do it myself. After purchasing another hard drive and re-installing all the drivers we began to slowly resurrect my computer from the dead. I am going to list out the best advice I can give you to prevent a catastrophe from happening. Some of these may not prevent failure, but will certainly help keep your computer running as fast as possible.

1) double back-up everything important – also make sure you are current and well-organized in doing this.

2) make sure you are well-organized when it comes to tracking receipts and key codes. You will need to re-download all the software you’ve paid for if you don’t have hard copies…

3) be very careful of the programs you are running, especially if you are on a PC. Windows 7 can be very intrusive if you let it. Take control of your computer.

4) be careful with registry defrags and other software used to “clean up your computer”.  Emptying your recycle bin and deleting your browsing history is one thing, defragging and registry fixes are something else.

5) partitioning off your hard drive – is it good or bad? Honestly, I’ve read opinions both ways. I tend to believe it’s good,  but I am certainly no expert. Please do your own research and make your own conclusions.

6) disable or turn to manual start-up items that are automatically running when your computer boots that you don’t need. 

Well, that’s about it. I am certainly no techie so don’t read too much into this blog post. I just want you to be aware of the potential amount of work and headaches you can incur if you are not prepared ahead of time for something like this to happen.  Also, some quick tips to speed up your computer and keep it running smoothly. Have a great day!

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