Last week, I touched up on using Time Machine to backup your Mac. It’s simple, it’s free, and it’s included on every Mac running at least OS X 10.5.
However, there are many more solutions to backing up your data, such as backing up to the cloud. These services aren’t meant to replace any local backup solution you may have in place; instead, they’re meant to compliment them in case your local copy can’t be used.
While there are many, many different online services from which to choose, I’m going to cover just two of them.
I love Backblaze for off-site storage. For $5/month (or $50/year), your important files will be backed up to their servers. This price includes unlimited data, so no matter if you’re backing up 2GB of data or 2TB of data, you won’t be charged a fee for going over your storage plan since there isn’t one.
Of course, depending on your internet connection will determine how long it will take to backup your data. With most users having access to broadband internet, this shouldn’t be an issue as Backblaze backups as long as you have an internet connection. And if you lose your connection? Backblaze will pick up where it left off the next time you’re online.
Restoring your files can be done one of 3 ways: through the web, having a USB flash drive mailed to you, and having a USB hard drive sent to you. If you choose the web version, which is free, you simply log into their site and you’ll be guided through the process of having your files archived into a .zip file which you can then download.
The USB flash drive and USB hard drive do have additional fees (you didn’t think they’d send your data on these devices for free, did you?). This is to cover the cost of the hardware and the cost of mailing it to you.
There’s a 15-day free trial for Backblaze, so be sure to sign up and try it out for yourself. You have nothing to lose. Works on both Mac and Windows platforms.
CrashPlan is another service I use. It works the same as Backblaze, but they offer plans from Free to Enterprise. CrashPlan is a separate app, relying on Java to display options and settings (since the app works on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Solaris).
The Free plan allows you to backup to an external hard drive (just like Time Machine) or to a friend’s computer via network. Both options have no storage limits within the app, but of course, depending on the hard drive size, that is your true limit.
Backing up to a friend’s computer is a nice addition that can come in handy if you’re a student in college or you live with a roommate or two. A great idea if you’re low on money and need to backup your data.
As for privacy, CrashPlan encrypts your data as it’s being backed up, so only you have access.
CrashPlan+ actually has 3 different sub-plans you can choose from, depending on your budget and storage needs. Keep in mind, that all plans, paid and free, all have the ability to backup to local drives and other computers with CrashPlan installed as a basic service.
CrashPlan+ – $2/month gets you 10GB of storage
CrashPlan+ Unlimited – $4/month gets you unlimited storage
CrashPlan+ Family – $9/month gets you unlimited storage for up to 10 computers in your household
CrashPlanPro and CrashPlanPro E
Both options are geared toward businesses. Unfortunately, the pricing isn’t listed on the website but you can go to the website to find out more about them.
Just like Backblaze, your initial backup will take a long time, depending on your connection speed and how much data you choose to backup. Both services also allow you to backup connected drives, so if you’re like me and have data stored on an external drive that isn’t stored locally, you can choose to have that backed up as well.
Just like Time Machine, if you need to restore just one small file, or a whole folder, it’s simply a matter of connecting to the service and clicking a link to start downloading. It really is that simple.
I learned the importance of backups a few years ago when I foolishly replaced an internal hard drive and didn’t back up my stuff before formatting the old one. I know have an external hard drive used for backups as well as Backblaze and CrashPlan+, just to be safe.