Everyone seems to be jumping on the online backup bandwagon these days. Enterprise software giant EMC bought SOHO online backup provider Mozy a while back. Now EMC is flogging Mozy Enterprise for all it’s worth. I’ve received links to no fewer than four white papers about Mozy Enterprise, the first of which boasts a provocative title: “You’re Not as Backed Up as You Think.”
EMC is coming late to the online backup game, and has the likes of LiveVault (bought by Iron Mountain in 2005) to contend with for the enterprise market. (Though there’s a difference between LiveVault’s Continuous Data Protection, which updates files as they change, and Mozy’s scheduled backups.)
Most of the new online backup providers seem to be targeting the consumer and home-office market, however. I’ve written before about Mozy Home, Carbonite, and other online backup providers. Do a search for “free online storage” in Google and you’ll be overwhelmed with possibilities. (Tip: read the reviews, and the fine print of the license agreement, before signing up with any of these services.)
The amount of storage space you get for free is usually modest even for a home or home office user, and certainly not suitable for the enterprise. But there are more and more home users producing data that needs backing up, and more of them have high-speed connections, so everyone wants to be in on it.
There’s Dell’s DataSafe™, now offered free with the purchase of a new Inspiron or XPS notebook. The first two types of files they recommend backing up are photos and music, followed by Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint slide shows. 100 GB of storage costs $119.00 per year, which doesn’t dent the small-business budget too much. It isn’t clear whether it’s possible to back up more than one computer to a single DataSafe™ account, but I suspect it’s not. (This is also true for Mozy Home.)
If you want to back up your network drive online, you probably need either an enterprise product or a geeky homemade hack to upload the files to a server. My own network drive, to which all three of the computers in my household (my two laptops and my housemate’s desktop) back up automatically, backs up to a USB drive. I shudder to think how clogged our cable connection would get if I tried to send 617GB up that 6Mbps connection every week.
But I digress. (Gosh, how unusual.)
Not to be outdone by its rival, HP has also launched an online backup service, HP Upline, complete with glossy website. It even offers multi-user options. Unfortunately for HP, Upline suffered a week of downtime, with security issues for good measure. TechCrunch and its readers had some fairly pungent things to say about that, and one wonders whether the service will survive the bad publicity long enough to establish credibility. I can’t see myself signing up for the one-year limited-storage free trial.
Computer Technology Review provides a good overview of what an organization should look for in an online backup service. While not all the same considerations apply to home and home office users, it’s still worth reading the article before signing up with a service provider.
Online backup is a good supplement to your other backup methods. Unless you can guarantee that you’ll always be able to connect to the Internet in the middle of a data loss crisis, however, I wouldn’t rely on it exclusively. Especially if it’s free.