I’ve mentioned online backup services before, but not for a while, so it’s time to take a look at what’s changed, what’s available, why you might want it—and what it will cost you.
Actually, the answer to the last question might be “nothing at all.” A company called Streamload has just introduced what it calls a “Freeloader” account, which allows you to store up to 10 GB of files on its servers free of charge. The catch? Well, you can only download 100 MB of it per month, so in order to make a complete restoration, you’d have to upgrade to a paid subscription. The other catch? Unlike some sites which are dedicated to providing backups, Streamload doesn’t allow you to automate or schedule your backups.
Even so, 10 GB of free storage space is an amazing deal. Cost has always been the biggest reason for people with high-speed connections not to back up online. (The second biggest reason is concerns about the security of your data either in transmission or on the host site. And of course for anyone doomed to dial-up, the thought of gigabyte uploads and downloads brings nightmares.) Xdrive, probably Streamload’s closest competitor in terms of storage bang for the buck, charges $19.95 per month for that same 10 GB of files.
Streamload, which is really aimed at file sharing rather than backups, is just one example of the expanding range and availability of Peer-to-Peer networks. Another, Vembu StoreGrid, allows you to back up your data onto someone else’s hard drive or website.
Online backup services have the advantage of providing you with an off-site backup, the kind that will be there if your house is burned down. I’d recommend Streamload as a good place to make an extra backup of important files or those with sentimental value (like photos of your family). I wouldn’t recommend it (or any other online service) as a place to store anything that’s top-secret sensitive. And it’s not a good option for storing drive mirrors, because you’d have to have a working computer to get to your backup.
Remember: no backup is perfect, but any backup is better than none!
For more information about online backup services, read the November 18 PC World feature article. The article includes descriptions and reviews of several online backup services. Streamload is described in today’s Scotsman.
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