Back your shit up

BackUpHow many times have you heard a version of this story? You have carefully catalogued your digital photos over the last 5 years, including many important points in your life: your trip abroad, your niece’s first steps, that thesis you’ve been working on for 2 years. One night, you are gesturing rather emphatically to your roommate when you accidentally dump the drink you have beside your computer. The drink is all over your laptop. Something starts to smoke, pop, and hiss. Yup, you’re screwed.

Unless, that is, you were smart enough to run some backups. I know, I know. Backups are boring. Backups are tedious. Backups are confusing. Even as someone in the tech industry, I’d agree with you. You barely had time to upload those 500 photos and now I’m telling you to back ‘em up? Fortunately, the internet has made it easier than ever to protect your information. Check out these three web-based backup options. All three make backing up your computer as easy as turning the computer on.

First, a Techsplanation:
Each of these services uses computer-side encryption in addition to a password. Encryption is the process where digital files are turned into gobbledygook code neither computer nor human is able to read. In order to read it later, the computer needs a specific digitized “key” in addition to your password. While it’s always possible for hackers to get into your files, computer-side encryption in addition to your password makes it very difficult as well as highly unlikely. Even if you don’t go with my recommendations below, you should ensure that any web-based backup encrypts your files prior to upload.

None of these services will backup your Operating System (an Operating System is the main form of software running on your computer, such as Mac’s Leopard or Windows 8). While it’d be nice to have, it’ll slow your computer down and it’s just not worth-while to do over internet speeds. To be absolutely safe, I recommend keeping a backup on an external hard drive of everything (Operating System as well as all of your files). But, hey, lets just start with the online backup if you’re not doing any backup at all.

Backblaze (5GB Free or $5/month, $50/year, or $99 for 2 years)
Backblaze is cheap compared to what you get (and, lets face it, what lezzer doesn’t want to catch a bargain!?). It doesn’t limit you on the type of files you’re allowed to upload (with very few exceptions). You also have unlimited storage, so if you have converted your entire DVD collection to video files, you still won’t have to pay anything additional. Backblaze makes life easy by unobtrusively backing up all files, including external hard drives, while you work.

Mozy (2GB Free, 50GB, 5.99/month or 125 GB, 9.99/month)
Mozy might be a little more user-friendly, but it limits your storage. Luckily, Mozy gives a non-technical explanation of how much you’re able to store in your backups. If you’re an average person with just a few photos and videos, the $5.99 plan is probably for you. Unlike the other services, Mozy gives you the option to have 3 computers on one account with the $9.99 plan. If you run out of space, you can always buy more for $2/month. Mozy seems hit-or-miss with its external drive backup.

Carbonite (Based on service levels, starts at $59/year)
While the most expensive of the three, Carbonite benefits from experience and reputation. If you’re looking for excellent customer service above a price break, then go with Carbonite. This company has won several awards since 2010, making it a favorite in the industry. Of the three, however, I found Carbonite to be the most confusing. The price tier isn’t explicitly based on space. It does, however, limit which files are automatically backed up (which, in essence, saves space without the company explicitly stating storage limits). It also does not backup 4gb files automatically. While most of your files won’t hit that limit, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with that kind of ambiguity. Lastly, unlike the other companies, Carbonite does not back external drives unless you purchase the $99 service level.

Of the three, it’s obvious that Backblaze is my favorite. It’s both low-cost in addition to being extremely easy. While backups might seem excessive now, how would you feel if you lost everything on your computer? I know the photos I have are priceless, so I’m OK with paying for an online backup service to ensure I’ll have them forever.

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About Tina

A transplant from the snow and mountains of Upstate NY (why, yes, there IS an entire state above NYC!), Tina moved to Chicago in 2005. Since then, she’s taken full advantage of Chicago’s sports scene, participating in rugby, volleyball, and hockey – just to name a few. Her first love, however, is soccer. She's proud to have participated in both the 2006 and 2010 Gay Games as well as the 2009 Out Games. In addition to sports, Tina enjoys traveling (she tries to cross the atlantic at least once a year). Tina is a ‘Jackie of all trades’, so prepare for the unexpected!


3 Responses to “Back your shit up”

  1. Tina, Yev from Backblaze here! Great write up! Thanks for including us in your lit, and I’m happy you are enjoying the service!

    Posted by Yev | April 30, 2013, 12:58 pm
  2. @Yev – thanks! Glad you appreciated the write-up :).

    Posted by Tina C. | April 30, 2013, 1:27 pm
  3. Great post Tina! Shared! 🙂

    Posted by A. Turner | May 5, 2013, 9:55 am

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