Back That Thing Up! Breaking Down Online Back-up Services

 

We at the Alliance have pestered you via aticles on this website. We have reminded you on the podcast. Heck, if we met you in person, we probably nagged you about it then, too. BACK UP YOUR STUFF! For the LOVE of all that is HOLY!

You still haven’t? Yeah yeah, you’ve been meaning to, but, well, life gets busy. It’s all organized and ready to be burned off onto DVD or copied to your Terabyte drive… but….but…..

No more BUTS!

There are automatic services out there who have something to say about your “buts”. No, no, not www.sirmixalot.com, but Online Back-up Services. You may have even seen the Carbonite TV commercials and thought “hmm… yeah… I should do that.” Well, it’s as simple as choosing a service, paying and installing it, and then…. you don’t have to do a dang thing. These applications will scan your computer (or selected folders) and looks for new files every day, and copy them over to their secure servers. If you’re like most computer users, you KNOW what it’s like to be amidst technical difficulties and stressing over the possibility of a DEAD ERASED HARD DRIVE…all your pictures, movies, music, important documents, ARTWORK… gone. In an instant. All that work, years of comics and books and website design… wiped away like it never existed. Okay, here’s a paper bag, inhale slowly…

So, yeah, when I said “It’s as easy as choosing a service”.. I kinda lied. This is the whole point of this article. Choosing is the hard part, and I have been bouncing around for a while now trying to find the perfect concoction of a back-up service that meets all my finicky needs. It’s NOT easy. But I will make up for my little white lie with this comprehensive breakdown of all the top back-up services out there. A quick google search will give you plenty of great similar articles, helping you choose a perfect back-up service for your situation.

 

Lets take a look at the Heavy Hitters!

Pros:

  • Been around for a while; we’re talking about backing up over 100 billion files, restoring 7 billion files for customers!
  • Unlimited space! Don’t worry about how much you have, just back it ALL up!
  • Easy to use and set up on mac, windows, and a nice mobile app.

Cons:

  • Doesn’t support Mac outside of US, and doesn’t support non-Intel Macs.
  • Basic prices only cover one computer. Pay more if you want to back up more than one.
  • Doesn’t back up network drives, no hosted file sharing.

Pros:

  • Like Carbonite, easy to set up and nicely designed interface. Well-known company.
  • Right-click any file in Windows Explorer to add to the backup list.
  • Supports PPC (non-intel) Macs.

Cons:

  • External drives not supported.
  • Only one computer per account.
  • Initial backup takes a while.

 

Pros:

  • Easy to use, with unlimited file storage, with continuous backup monitoring (not just once a day)
  • Can help locate a missing/stolen computer. I mean, that’s ANOTHER way to lose your files, too.
  • One of the cheapest plans (for one computer) out there at just under $4/month

Cons:

  • No support for non-intel macs.
  • No file-sharing, or mobile apps. Also, only way to control what you back up is to EXCLUDE folders, which can be more tedious, depending.
  • VERY pricey if you wish to back up more than 1 computer.

Pros:

  • Fast and easy initial backup. Though not that flashy, it does it’s job.
  • Pretty reasonable price at $50/year. Recently allowed plans to include multiple computers.
  • Supports non-intel Macs.  Can even backup networked external drives & USB keys/flash drives.

Cons:

  • No hand-holding in the setup process. Select what you want to back up, figure it out yourself. Loads of options, which can be daunting if you’re not accustomed to it.
  • No file sharing.
  • Mobile app doesn’t give you access to your backed up files.

Pros:

  • Extremely simple. A folder is created on your computer. Put what you want to backup & sync in said folder.
  • Supports everything, has a great mobile app.
  • Strong focus on SYNCING. If you’re a computer-bouncer, and like to access the same files on each computer, this is a great service for that. All-in-one.

Cons:

  • The first point in the “pros” could also be a con, if you don’t want to keep all your stuff in one folder.
  • A bit pricey compared to its competition. Cheapest plan only for 1 computer.
  • security: files are not encrypted with a private access key, so be careful who you share our folders with, if the link is passed on, anyone could have access.

 

A Few Other Options to Consider:

  1. JustCloud – A sync/backup service similar to DropBox, supporting all systems. Better price, but the initial backup seems to cause a lot of headaches.
  2. SpiderOak – $100 a year for unlimited computers isn’t too bad. Supports all systems. Never deletes previous versions of files, so it’s a lot like Mac’s Time Machine as well. Take a while to backup.
  3. Norton Online Backup – Up to five computers supported, a web-based interface, backs up networked drives as well.
  4. CrashPlan – Offers an unlimited storage plan for a reasonable price, but just for 1 computer. Can choose to backup to a friend’s computer, which could be handy.
  5. For you Google Fan Boys & Girls… Google Drive is coming… so keep an eye out for that!

 

________________________________________________________________________________

Dawn Griffin is a self-described “crazy chick”. She likes steak, Cleveland sports, video games and oh yeah, comics. She spent her high school years either playing street ball, pitching, or drawing comics and submitting them to syndicates. Once she –accidentally– discovered the world of webcomics, the sydication route became a pointless hurdle. After all, “Crazy Chicks” do things their *&%$ selves. Dawn is the mastermind behind Zorphbert and Fred, and the illustrator of the Abby’s Adventures kids book series. She can be easily bribed with ice cream.

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29 Comments

  1. OR You can get a portable hard drive and just save that. It is not like a so called secured service, but as you know and anyone else knows, once you have your info online it can be hacked no matter how good they say it is it never is that safe. Also if something happens and they loose all the info or something happens you get screwed.

    Over all, get a portable hard drive and every few years switch to a new one. It is much safer and cheaper then these so called services. My Hard drives cost me less then 100$ each and lasted over 2 years so far, and still going strong. I do not have to fear someone else may accidentally get my stuff, I do not have to fear any hackers beyond what normally suspected, i do not have to fear the service ending or a failed back up. Much more fun

    • Lexia,

      Online Backup today is a must for any creators (art, music, etc…), as Bearman mentioned above, you are never protected from a disaster like a fire. You may have insurances that will give you back your computer, but the data would be lost

      If you can’t afford an online system, at least back your most important stuff on a cheap media (DVD, USB) regularly and put it somewhere else than your home (a friend, mom, etc..)

      • Hmm… I think Lexia has a point with the hackers or the system failure, though, nothing’s really, truly “safe”… maybe we should see another article soon with the pros and cons of alternative storage options? I do have a USB drive, but like a knucklehead I’ve got it with me (Mainly backed up in the case of hardware failure, which seems all too common for me with all this cheaply made modern tech.)

        • Like I stated below, if you’re afraid of hackers (more than you’re afraid of fires/floods/failing external HDs or DVDs), then please stick to on-site backup. Best bet is to backup to an extra HD, but also to DVDs in case that HD fails. Even safer, Make 2 copies of the DVDs and take to a friend/family member’s house. Be sure to create restore points on your PC periodically, or use Time Machine on a Mac.

          There’s not many other options than that.

          Personally, IF anyone were to hack into my account with an online back-up service, they would find artwork files, pictures, music, movies. I don’t backup anything to do with internet browsers, or personal info. So, I’m pretty safe there. Anything that personal, I have backed up to DVDs.

      • A must is a little pushing it. Maybe at best a need. I back up my art plenty well on HD’s my HD’s work well and I use DVD’s time to time I also have a host which I can upload stuff to as well if need be.

        Now saying online back up is a must is over doing it, it is a convenience not a need, you need air and tools not online back ups. It is nice to have but not needed…

        • Are you externals set to backup whenever the documents change? Or do you have to do a manual backup?

          I forget to back up to my external more often than not, so having the online backup running in the background is pretty helpful to me.

          While I would not say it ranks up there with air and food in terms of my survival, it does rank up high enough to make it a need, because it brings a certain amount of peace of mind.

          “But I guess if you trust a bank with your money you may as well trust a company that only has an online promise they can change and cut off at any time, may as well.” – So do you keep your backups under you mattress with your money? Or buried in a mason jar in the backyard? Any company can change a promise they offer at any time, what makes the fact they are online any different?

          • Mm… I do not need it backed up all the time it changes.. Not like I need another useless program updating in the BG. You just leave yourself open to many things when you have programs like that running.

            When I change the file after I back it up most times it is the back up I change anyway, I rarely go back and change things when I done with it anyway.

            You say you forget to change the back up over all, that is an issue with you but I am sure when your program can not connect or the file comes up corrupt or they changed a file you did not mean to change I am sure you will just mock it up to mistake and forgetfulness.

            “So do you keep your backups under you mattress with your money? Or buried in a mason jar in the backyard?”

            I explained that way beyond you asking already.

            “Any company can change a promise they offer at any time, what makes the fact they are online any different?”

            MANY THINGS, online company can change on whim while building companies have policies and have to give warnings and have rules and laws they have to follow. You can say that an online company has to follow some laws but really over all they not as ruled as other companies are

          • “I am sure when your program can not connect or the file comes up corrupt or they changed a file you did not mean to change I am sure you will just mock it up to mistake and forgetfulness.”

            When the file of the 80 page comic I am working became corrupted I can tell I was damn happy to have my online backup from the day before available and not just overwritten by the latest version. Given that it has taken nearly a year to get to the end point of this project I don’t relish the idea of having to start over.

            Obviously online backup is not for everyone, but I think at least 60% of the comic creators out there would find it useful.

          • Well maybe 60% of them will find it useful and maybe 55% will hate it, who knows.

            BUT if you done normal back ups you would figure that you still would have a backup as normal. I do after I finish all my comic pages I make backups. And when I done I make a DVD or CD varies on room needed.

            I do find it useful all I was doing was stating a fact. You found the service useful that is fine, and no matter how many other found it bad you will always find it useful because of your experience till one day they mess up you will trust it.

        • well, if you wanna be literal, yes, nothing is a “must” except, like, breathing. Most people who use these services enjoy the peace of mind and the convenience. I am not trying to force-ably push an online service on you. As long as you take *some* precautions to duplicate your work elsewhere (DVD, HD, server), that’s gonna protect you pretty well.

          A lot of people who create content consistently wish to use these online services, consider the idea worth the $50/year or so, and have a hard time deciding which is right for them. That’s why I wrote the article.

    • Antoine beat me to it. 2 reasons why I won’t rely 100& on an on-site external HD (or DVDs for that matter). #1– if there’s a fire/flood/etc, everything is wiped anyway. #2. external HDs will fail as well, eventually. In fact, I have had far more issues with external HDs failing than internal. I have lost about 4, before I gave up and just installed an extra internal one in my mac. That one’s been around for 5 years, knock on wood.

      Yes, nothing is 100% safe. There’s no guarantee. The odds are extremely low that YOUR hard drive will fail at the EXTACT same time as the online service’s server, and your info is lost in both places. As for fears about being hacked, I would never suggest backing anything up to these services that include personal financial information or anything that would serious cause issues if it fell into the wrong hands. I use services like these mainly for my artwork, picture, music, movies.

      If you don’t trust online services like these, then my suggestion is to double-backup. Backup to an external HD or burn DVDs, and make copies to back-up off-site as well. This is actually how the companies I have worked for handle things (dual backups), though they are now considering switching to online services like the above options.

      • #1 how often are you in fires/flood/etc that you fear this? Really it must be hard to keep them together and just carry them out even in a rush I remember my laptop bag.

        #2 Yes I stated that in my post change them up every so often, but your experience is after all YOURS mines is great I have 3 external drives and I had them over 2 years and they all run great till this day.

        Sadly your two examples also apply to the other company as well, what if they have a fire/flood so on they do not care about your stuff, company take over lay offs so on you can loose your stuff more with the online one then you can with an external drive. At least with an external drive or DVD’s you can only blame yourself or the company that makes the product. With online there is to many factors, Viruses, hackers, company going down, server not connected correctly, a employee erasing it for fun or by “mistake”.

        But I guess if you trust a bank with your money you may as well trust a company that only has an online promise they can change and cut off at any time, may as well.

        Over all up to you but for me it is useless, not 100% but pretty close and not worth the money when money is in short demand.

        • #1 never, thank goodness, but all it takes is once to WISH I had backed up my work off-site. Imagining losing everything I have ever created is pretty frightening. And a tragedy like that can happen when I’m not home, so I won’t be around to rush around and collect my computers, DVDs, and other storage devices (not that I can say I’ll be in the right mind to do that, if I was home). But the *MAIN* reason (underlined, bolded) I use a service like this is convenience. It’s a hassle to burn DVDs 1x a month or more and make duplicates to keep at my folk’s house.

          #2 Because it was my own experience, I decided that just backing up to an external HD wasn’t going to be enough, seeing as how so many HDs in general failed on me. No, that doesn’t mean it has to be how everyone does it, but for me it justifies writing this article and making the suggestion (not a demand) to others. I’m glad you never had an external HD fail, it’s a pain! But I consider you lucky, and myself the norm for having to deal with it at least once in my 15 years owning my own computer. Just my own opinion.

          Also, when I mentioned the companies I worked for, I was talking about their own property, not my personal files. All the design work was backed up to DVD and then duplicated and mailed elsewhere, so if one place had a flood/fire, there were duplicates of the files elsewhere. That’s initially what made me think about doing it myself. If a major Philly design firm was doing this, I considered maybe it had some validity. (this was also a duty of mine as an intern at my first job– archiving & burning copies, mailing to a different office… was not the highlight of my job, LOL)

          It’s a good idea to research and read reviews on the company before you fork over your yearly payment. Yes, nothing is guaranteed, but a handful of bad reviews and pissed off customers will deter you from going with one service, and have you consider another with better reviews, happy customers. (key suggestion: look for reviews outside of their own website… I tend to check out PCmag, PCworld, or Cnet.

          I understand you are simply not interested in any online service because of the risk and waste of money, and I am not trying to convince you. I am explaining why others (including myself) prefer to spend money on these services, why they would trust them with their files. In the same respect, I will not be convinced that it is more likely your files will be deleted/stolen/hacked by an online service, than it is that your HD will die or a DVD not burn correctly or get corrupted/scratched, or even that a fire/flood or other act-of-god event could ruin your on-site backup. When I weigh the odds of each, I’d rather take my chances with off-site backup with an online service, than trust my HD/DVDs 100%.

          Tho, I still DO burn backup DVDs for further peace of mind. But, I only do that like 1x a year, not every night like iDrive does.

          To each his own, Lexia. If online backup is something you don’t trust, don’t need, or can’t afford, I get it. I’m just here to help those who are considering it. I use iDrive, and I would recommend it, or other services like it, to others who would enjoy the convenience and peace of mind it offers (and can afford it). If there’s anything I am trying to push on you guys here, it’s to back-up your work in SOME form, which you do. So, great!

          • All I was doing is pointing out a flaw in the whole idea. Really at end of day you are getting a 3rd party involved in this whole process and with ID theft and hackers all around and even it is said that the process is updating at all times, but that is just a open way for hackers to get in or a virus depending how their servers work.

            Macs are good and all but they do get viruses after all, and there is no 100% safe way but to me it seems that this way seems like a way it would fail more.

            But either way I do not say your article is bad just that this is not the best way on earth. And from what you said it seems like your company uses this service to transfer to another area to save it on their side. But I can be wrong in that but I only know what you said.

          • Thanks for your response, Lexia. Just to further clarify one thing….
            My first job as an intern back in 2001 (before online backup services), we were making duplicate backup DVDs and keeping one, snail-mailing the 2nd DVD to another office in case the main office had a fire/flood. My current company (2012) does the same thing but is slowly converting over to cloud-based/online automatic back-up services as the manual back-up gets frustratingly annoying with our amount of constantly created, large data. Point being, if major corporations are willing to put their digital property in the hands of these online services, maybe us creators could give them some consideration, too. It’s not for everyone, I understand that.
            With the future being online business in almost every field, I am moving beyond any distrust I’d have with a company just because it’s online. Terms of Service, like brick-and-mortar store contracts you’d sign, are there to protect you, as well…. they should be read thoroughly. And again, I would never suggest backing up online anything that would allow an identity to be stolen or fraud to occur. For the purposes of this article on this website, this is mainly about protecting artwork.

            That said, there are some services that brag about Fort Knox security. They make it a major talking-point. May be worth it, if you’re at all interested in giving it another look in the future.
            http://www.securebackup.com/details/
            http://www.mypcbackup.com/secure-online-backup
            “Amazon s3 storage has 99.999999999% durability guarantee that’s how confident they are in their storage security. This equates to just 1 file lost every 10 million years.”

            have a great weekend!

          • Well… I guess companies do know what’s best after all.. Since they always make the right choices.

            But your figures make sense if you take what they say at face value, that is like the commercial with the ID Theft they say it will protect you even the CEO gave his SS# on TV that makes you feel all good and warm inside, then you find out that after that commercial his ID was stolen 13 times, and it was not his company that stopped it all.

            It’s all fine till that day someone decides to do something.

            Being 99.999999 whatever safe on internet is just not possible you know that you work in marketing they can say anything as long as it holds some truths to it, and maybe when it started they was safer but as with PSN and so many other times, things happen and they will always happen.

            All I saying is just think about it before spending the money.

            Also once these incidents start to happen I see these corporations using that as an excuse as to why they loosing money and so on.. The service is still to new to use it half heartily.

  2. Lexia which is good unless your house burns down. With an external drive I would back up at least monthly and leave it offsite ex safety deposit box. I use Carbonite but don’t put anything on it that would be sensitive info in the wrong hands. Primarily for my work and personal photos

    • To be honest I keep all my stuff together, my laptop, HD;s and so on so really to get a bag before you leave is not hard even in a fire, but I do not fear fires as much as some seem to

  3. I’m a Backup Freak

    I have all my comic stuff and Photos on my internal hard drive. I have a 2TB External drive where all of the above is being backed-up automatically. I have a 500 Gigs portable Hard drive backing that up as well, whenever I plugged it in my computer and finally, I do have Backblaze.

    I may add a few things to know as well about Online Backup Systems:

    1- When you first set-up such service, it WILL take a while for the original backup to be completed. You will probably have TONS of data to back-up and depending of the type of internet connection you have, it may take a while to upload all the files. Also, I know for a fact that Backblaze are not using the entire speed of your internet connection in order to avoid stopping you for doing something else using your internet connection, which is a big plus IMO.

    2- These are mirroring the folders you choose to back-up. So if you modify a file on your computer and overwrite the file with the new changes, the online system will do the same thing. So if you are deleting/overwriting a file by mistake, you better go get it back ASAP before your backup service changes it as well

    So Dawn, with all this research, which of these services did you end up using?

    • RE: #2, some services (like SpideOak) will actually save deleted files too, so if you ever want to go back and find a deleted file, you can. A bit like Mac’s Time Machine combined with automatic backup.

      and yes, RE: #1, be prepared for a long initial backup. With ANY service. Once that’s done, the rest is cake. Just set it (if possible) to backup new files at night and you’ll sleep soundly knowing your work is safe.

      In the end, I am sticking with iDrive, which I used for a while now. It’s not pretty but it does it’s job. I almost switched to SpiderOak, due to the allowance of multiple computers, just JUST recently, iDrive now allows multiple computers for the same low price! I have to cancel my current account and sign up again, but I’ll be able to pay the same $49/year to backup both my mac and PC. That was my only issue with iDrive… though -truthfully- I haven’t had to restore any files yet. The assurance that it’s there in case I do, is keeping me very happy.

  4. If you do not back up your work, or your computer files, you are playing Russian Roulette. I know this is supposed to be about online back-ups, but, I do not like them. I used IDrive when it first came out years and years ago. Time consuming and it would not back-up files needed to put my computer back in order. As for the other services listed here I do not know if they will, or can, back-up the reg. and .io files you will need if your computer crashes. And that ability is extremely important. And then there is the price for the service.
    I do back up constantly, and I mean constantly. I uses a Mac Mini as my main computer that is connected (WiFi) to my Airport router. The router has a 500 gig hard rive and through the program Time Machine (comes with the Mac) I back up every 30 mins. It is seamless and you would not know you are being backed up unless you noticed the Time Machine icon on the top bar spinning.
    Since I have two other Macs using the router’s hard drive I connected a 2 TB external hard drive to the router. When the 500 gig drive fills it places the info on the 2TB drive.
    But mostly it is the operating files that the Time Machine continually backs up that are important. If the Mini crashes I can transfer all my drawing programs and folders to the new Mini in a few minutes. Very easy and convenient. The price for the 2TB external drives is less than one year of service to most back-up companies.
    However…if my house were to burn down all my files would be gone. And that is the best selling point of online storage. 🙂

    • Thanks for the feedback Michael, I have been saving up to buy a TB drive so I can use Time machine on my mac, to keep a direct copy of my work on a separate drive. For me, ideally, the online service is worst case scenario.. if my regular HD fails, I want to grab everything from my TB drive. Considering I have an old mac that is now obsolete, I may just wait until I get a new computer. But that’s a WHOLE other dilemma for me, lol
      Thanks for sharing!

  5. I’ve got three backups – I use a few external drives, Dropbox, and Time Machine on my Mac with a separate internal HDD. It’s also set to backup my Dropbox folder. Time Machine and Dropbox backup my stuff automatically. The External requires me to manually save (which I do every week or so).

    Setting all of this up takes no less than 10 minutes, and you have 3 backups of your work.

  6. I really wished I had used an online backup solution. Recently the external drive I stored my iTunes library crashed. No biggie I think as I load up time machine. Well at that exact moment my time machine drive crashed as well. So now I have been trying to transfer files off of my semi dead hard drive (it stays connected for anywhere from ten to thirty minutes)So far i have transferred 17 of 500 GB of music. It’s a pain in the tukus that if I backed up online would not even be a problem.

    • ughhhhh.. this sounds awful, I was cringing while reading. I had something similar happen (long ago, before back-up services) where my external HD died, and I had to re-convert all my CDs to MP3s in iTunes. Not once, but 2 months later, AGAIN! It was awful. Needless to say, I backed up my entire music library immediately to DVDs. Since then, I haven’t had a HD die on me! *crossed fingers*

      I hope you get that sorted out… sounds like a frustrating headache :0(
      and, just like to note that I have never heard of a dead HD staying connected for a certain period of time like that, that’s so strange!

  7. Pingback: Webcomic Alliance - WordPress Security: Don’t wait until it’s too late!

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