Friday, February 20, 2009

online file backup service roundup

I'm in the market for an online backup service for my files. I had a hard drive die at work recently, and would be devastated if that happenned at home. I'm too lazy to burn DVD's every so often, not to mention i'd have to store them somewhere else anyways in order to have true protection (if my house burns down, i'd loose anything anyways).

Hence, online backup is the solution!! Heres a quick rundown of some options, and my initial thoughts.

My needs:

  • Photos

  • Music

  • Misc Data

  • Access from multiple computers, windows and mac, and ideally phone

  • Would like access from the web, and to send files/directories to friends

Sugar Sync

  • Mutli computers, no extra cost

  • They have mobile access

  • Can share files with friends via static and hidden links (ie your files are browsable)

  • They have a free trial, and decent pricing (premium 60gb for 100$/year)

  • Lots of good info on their site, including lots of details about how their s/w operates

  • Windows and Mac versions


  • Unlimited backup is one computer only - hence the 4.95 is deceiving

  • Mention of gzip/rsync,etc. on their site makes me think for a savvy user they'd be good, but...

  • Its hard to find details of what you can actually do with their software!

  • Block level incremental backup sounds great... but really, most of my files will never change


  • Excellent pricing 150gb for 4.95 a month

  • Good looking interface - focus on restore seems weird, and one of the main options from the web gui is "Enter your Credit Card"...?

  • Stores 30 past versions of your files! This is a great feature, even if you muck with stuff, or delete it, you can still retrieve.


  • Immediately turned off from their website - using fear to sell, not cool.

  • They say they backup your files twice... HA!! If they're using a reasonable encryption algorithm, this is pointless, and hence either they don't know what they're doing, or they're doing something non-standard. Either way i don't need to investigate these guys any further.


  • Cute little intro, windows and mac is obvious from site

  • Backs up everything, ala mac's time machine. I think i need more control than this...

  • However, its only 50$/year - mabye this is the way to go?

  • Its a new product, hard to say i'd trust all my data with it.


  • No pics of their software, or mention of its web capabilities - no go.

HP Upline

  • Looks like it will meet my needs - 59$ year

  • I actually tried this a while back, but they had some downtime and the client crashed a couple times... not sure if i should go back

Any thoughts or experiences out there? I'm leaning towards trying sugarsync's demo on one computer, and perhaps backblaze on another one.

Update 1
-Some good comments on techcrunch about online backup services.
-iDrive requires a credit card to signup - makes it a no go
-JungleDisk is another option. Pay per use is interesting.

Update 2
- My goodness, sugarsync doesn't seem to support my external usb drive!!! YIKES!! I was very close to purchasing, but without this support this is useless to me! I guess its back to the drawing board, i'll have to re-evaluate to ensure what i choose had this (i assumed an external drive would be transparent, i guess not).


  1. IDrive does NOT require a credit card to signup unless you want to start with a paid plan. The free 2GB plan does not require a card. See details at

  2. I recommend SugarSync as I have been using for almost a year. It certainly does backup but also many more things (remote access and sharing, phone access, syncing accross PCs and mac, etc)

  3. Another option you might want to consider is SpiderOak. They are cross platform, allow sharing and allow access from multiple computers. They are a little more expensive than Mozy or IDrive but they might be exactly what you are looking for. I have been testing them out for a review and have been pleasantly surprised with them.

    If you have a few minutes it would be great if you left a comment on my site about what service you choose and why to help others. Thanks.

  4. the list of online backup vendors will soon be extended by CloudBerryDrive, the backup product that works on top of Amazon S3. It will have only Windows client as we believe only by staying focused on a single platform can we offer the best solution. If you want to sign-up for beta go to the website

  5. Thanks for all the comments!

    @Raghu i went back to the site and downloaded the software, tried to "sign up" and once again was forced to enter a credit card. I putzed on the site a bit and then found the option you mentioned. However, when i went to sign up, i found i could only use a-z0-9 in my password. Unfortunately, this just won't cut it for all my data. Its a minor quible, but something idrive should consider beefing up (ie allowing special characters in password ;)).

    @John Scolly, glad to hear SugarSync is working for you! I'm VERY happy with it so far, and the iPhone app is quite sweet. I'm leaning heavily towards them.

    @John Tucker, thanks for the tip. SpiderOak does look very slick, unfortunately the pricing model just isn't going to fit. I've got about 100GB of data to backup right now, and would ideally like to backup more. Hence, i'll be moving into the 20$/month range fast, and thats just too much of a plunge right now when there are solutions out there like backblaze that claim to do it all for 5$ a month (i will post this on your blog too, once i've made my decision ;)).

    @Andy, cloudberrydrive looks pretty neat too, but online backup is not something i can really trust to a beta product. Coupled with no pricing information so i don't know what i'm getting myself into - i can compare with jungledisk, which is likely going to be too expensive. They claim 0.15$/GB/month

    Perhaps i'm too cheap?? Mabye i should think about paying ~300$/year for online backup, my data is a big part of my life after all...