dotTech Showdown: Free online backup services – which one is the best?

Off-site backup for Dallas companiesSometimes hard drives croak. Maybe you’re writing an essay and your computer catches fire. Perhaps you deleted that file that you needed by accident and now you don’t have it. If you did not make external and/or offsite backups, you are SOL. Today we take a look at some of the top free online backups that could potentially save you when a disaster strikes.

In round one of the Free Online Backup Showdown, we take a look at the purported features, speeds, and prices of six popular online backup services. The contenders are Mozy, which advertises about automated online backup; ADrive.com, which boasts about its free 50GB of storage; Windows Live Skydrive, another popular tool from Microsoft; IDrive, claiming to protect your critical data; Dropbox, another popular storage site used for both sharing files and keeping backups of private files; and humyo.com, which wants to improve your efficiency.

When it comes to selecting an online backup service, something you need to ask yourself about an online backup is what do I want from an online backup?

What do I want from an online backup?

There’s a lot of things to find in an online backup tool. Do you want to share files with friends? Have your data backed up (and not waste bandwidth)? Do you want your financial documents the pictures of your dog secured so no one else can hack into them? Lots of free storage space? A fast connection? Are you OK with uploading through a web browser, or do you want a program to do it for you? The following chart answers those!

(Click on the chart to view it in full size.)

My Favorite

My favorite service was probably Dropbox. Its Windows Explorer integration is superb and has a tiny learning curve. Its public folders have simple right click options to copy the link to public files. That text file was just saved like any other file, right into the Dropbox folder. That’s how easy it is! It also has a Photo Gallery option:

Dropbox photo galleries allow you to share photos with anyone (even non-Dropbox users). These photos will be presented in a photo gallery that is viewable online.

Pretty cool, no?  You can even get an extra 250MB by signing up at this link!

What I liked

From what I used of these online file backup sites, I liked what I saw from Skydrive, Dropbox, ADrive, IDrive, or Dropbox. They were all pleasant to use and fairly quick too. I’d recommend to a friend that wanted a desktop client Dropbox- one of the major things that makes Dropbox popular is its integration with Windows. For someone who didn’t care about that kind of thing but wanted lots of free space, I’d choose ADrive. Why? It has a lot of free space-50GB-for free.

What I didn’t like

One word: Mozy. It was slow on the old laptop I tested it on (what wasn’t?) and even refused to let me upload a custom file and at multiple times either froze or refused to log in. Given that uploading a single file was how I was testing these, I really don’t like that. Another thing I didn’t like was humyo for the sole reason of its extremely slow download speed. Perhaps it was other people on the network, but on this 20Mbps connection (~16Mbps, or 2MBps, if used at a fast site) I don’t want my 36MB files taking nine minutes to download.

Your thoughts

Tell us what you think. Do you use an online backup service? Will you ever use an online backup service? Which one is your favorite (your favorite does not have to be from the five that were reviewed in this article)? Are there any features you find that all backup services lack but you would like them to have? Feel free to share it all in the comments below.

Photo credit: alexmuse

This article was originally written by Locutus at his blog Cogizio on March 20th, 2010.

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105 comments

  1. Susan

    I’ve been using SpiderOak for backups of data & manuscripts & am more than happy. Free 2mb is plenty for me, prices above that are comparable to others. They have backup and sync options, automatic or on-demand, an onboard client. I’m stuck with s-l-o-w dialup (yes, we do still exist out here in the boonies!), but in spite of that, the upload & download process — while it can get tedious at times — has never failed me or given me any problems. Highly recommended.

  2. Jacky

    The cloud has become a lot more powerful. Not only you can backup files to the cloud, you can also move your file server, FTP server, email server, web server and backup system to the cloud. You can create sub-users and sub-groups; you can set different user roles; share different folders to different users with different permissions. For a small business, Cloud-based storage, backup, sharing and Cloud IT Solution can save you a lot of cost, while offering better, more secure and reliable services that can be accessed from anywhere. DriveHQ.com is one of the first few companies offering such cloud based services. For more info, please visit:
    http://www.drivehq.com/
     

  3. RobCr

    @Tom:
    I like the sound of Unite.
    I have the latest Opera.
    Does the person I wish to allow to ‘download’ from my Opera PC, have to have Opera as well ?
    Or do I just email them a link to my PC ?
     

  4. jivadas

    @jumbi: I don’t understand what you’re saying.
    “Public” files are invitational. You have to send your friends the URL for any file you wish to share. Such files are read-only.
    But you can also invite a reader into a public file. Then your computers get synced, so that you can collaborate wiki-style.
    This is a great system, and easy to use.
    xØx
    jd

  5. Frank

    I signed up for iDrive account a few days ago.
    No matter what connection I have (upstream), I get no more than 200Kb upload speed. Sincerely I would not recomment iDrive right now.
     
    Frank

  6. Mr.Dave

    @Ashok: Thanks for the compliment!  Trackmania is one of my favorite “guilty pleasures”, and it’s FREE, great fun to race and I also like to build tracks.  I only built one so far, but as you can see from the photos & movie, it’s a monster.  My best time is 11:35 start to finish!
    Glad to see you were able to access the files.  After GaryKC’s comments I was beginning to wonder if ZumoDrive worked for others.  It would help to know what the difference is (between GaryKC’s setup and yours) in case I try to share files with someone else and hit the same snag….
     
     
     
     
     
     

  7. JohnD

    Carbonite is on special (Ends today 4-23) at Costco online, 2 years for $59 plus tax, free shipping.  I’m going to check it out, I have off computer backup, but if the house burned down I would have some major troubles.

  8. .mau.

    I tried to sign up to Storegate, but after putting my username and password I always end up in a (Swedish) page which says “you’re logged out”. I just contacted the people there to see what happens.

  9. GaryKC

    Only service I’ve been able to upload to and access with any degree of consistancy is storegate. Thanks to everyone for your suggestions. Regarding Mr.Dave’s link, here’s what I see. Something is blocking my ability to view what’s there, I’ve been running every anti-mal-virus-spam-utility in my arsenal, no luck…yet. [IMG]http://i566.photobucket.com/albums/ss107/garykc/zumoscrshot.jpg[/IMG]

  10. Caleb

    I use dropbox.
    For my important files, I’ll make symbiotic link from the file on my dropbox to my hdd, so that when I use my desktop or laptop, I always have the latest version, and a copy is stored on my hdd as well as my dropbox, and not just dropbox.

  11. Mr.Dave

    @GaryKC: Thanks for giving a try.  I noticed my link was replaced with dottech.org, but if I paste the text of the link, it takes me to a page where I see a list of files.  I’m using Firefox 3.6, also tried it in Chrome (4.1.249) and it works the same.
    The page says “ZumoDrive” at the top.  In the right-hand side of the screen there’s a button to download all of it as one big .zip file, or you can “Accept a Share” – this takes you to a sign-up page for ZumoDrive, and if you go through all that, you will have a live copy of my folder on your ZumoDrive.  If I add or change files, you’ll see the updates as well.  Not sure if you would be able to add or change things.
    You can also click a filename to see more details or download it.  If you double-click you see the picture full screen (almost).   Near the upper left are buttons that switch between list view and gallery view.
    And it still is asking me to sign in, so I don’t think I see all this just because I have an account.  I don’t know what might be blocking it on your system — I’m running a bunch of different security/monitor programs (Avira, Anvir, Adaware, Windows Defender, Online Armor).  I hope you can find something that works for you, there are so many helpful people on this site and many good suggestions!
     
     
     
     
     
     

  12. bem

    Call me a troglodyte but I put NOTHING online with anybody.  In a world where even defense computers are being hacked I have zip faith that someone somewhere can’t mine it for their own purposes.  Worse, the site owners themselves might use personal info for their own gain.  Even Microsoft has sunk to this level, though they didn’t have far to sink.

    I don’t tweet, twitter, face or blog and as a result receive near zero spam.  I certainly wouldn’t upload my personal files.  I can’t see a need for it, at least in my case.  I have way more than enough external storage to keep my backups at home where no one can get at them or hose them but me.

    Untrusting?  Paranoid?  Yes, but I haven’t been hacked, attacked, infected or seriously spammed since I was a noob running 98.  The simplest security starts with closed, locked doors.

  13. Sandy

    @jivadas:   Thank you so much!  I feel much better – having someone who has done this before  – confirming the choices I made, since computers are not my area of expertise.  Best of luck on the success of your book!

  14. Mr.Dave

    @GaryKC: I just checked ZumoDrive and it appears to do what you want.  Below is a link to one of my folders containing pics and a movie from a Trackmania racing course I made.  See if you can access these files, and please let me know if you can see anything outside of this folder (you shouldn’t be able to, but I’d like to know that for sure!).  You could also try deleting or changing one of the pics, you shouldn’t be able to do either one.  You can also create a link to an individual file, it’s all very easy to do.   And, there is a “share” option that gives others access to add and (I think) edit and maybe delete files in a folder.
    Here’s the link:
    http://www.zumodrive.com/share/3k7rOGFlNz
     
     

  15. jivadas

    @Sandy: I’ve used Carbonite for several years, and never had a problem with corrupted files. Lost files (including, I think, prior drafts) are easily restored with a couple of clicks.
       I use Dropbox mainly for collaboration, and have never tested their backup system. For a very small charge it backs up every version of a file separately.
       I’d recommend sticking to Chapter files, if your book is large, simply for ease of downloading to another computer. (A very large file can take a long time both uploading and downloading.)

    xØx
     jd

  16. Sandy

    @jivadas: Would you mind if I ask what program you’re using for your book?  I’m working on one as well – and am using  MS Word – and I also backup with Carbonite.  However, I have heard of large files corrupting – and so I’ve been saving chapters separately to keep the volume of each file lower… .  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Because I don’t always go back and open each file I’ve finished, for a few months (sometimes), I’m mortified at the thought of opening one 5 months down the road and finding out I can’t!   Or, worse (well, maybe) would be loosing a file that contains research.
    Thanks!!

  17. jumbi

    Thank you all for signing through my link earlier.
    I am very happy with my 4gb space on dropbox, so all new readers, interested for dropbox, please sign through Locutus link on post # 67.
    I am certain he needs it!
    And he will use the extra space for more great dottech articles :-)

    # GaryKC
    I think I read before a month that dropbox supports file sharing not folder sharing. If you want to share a folder there are other solutions or if you like dropbox, just zip whichever folder to one file (you may zip without compression depending on the contents) and share it, either public or by invitation.

  18. Tom

    @GaryKC
    Gary, why don’t you look at Opera  - their latest version comes with Unite, a feature that let’s you share pictures or files with friends. The data remains on your pc which can act as a server.  You specify what is shared and what remains private. Ther e is no need to upload or download anything.

    Obviously this feature is for sharing stuff not for backups.

  19. Tim

    I would check out CrashPlan– http://crashplan.com. I’m surprised it wasn’t in the initial list. Cheaper monthly unlimited online backup than Mozy or Carbonite (i.e. 100GB will cost $5/mo. for ALL your computers, not each computer) as well as the option of backing up to external hard drives or other computers onsite or offsite, anywhere in the world. And that part is Free. Works on any platform too. It was Macworld’s Editor’s Choice over all those other services. Honestly this is the only “all-in-one” backup solution out there. Just doing online backup isn’t really backup – you need multiple copies of your files. And no other program will let you manage all your backup destinations in a single interface like CrashPlan does.
    Everyone should be trying this. If you choose not to use their online backup service (Crashplan Central), then it’s completely free, and you can backup to as many different locations as you want…for free…forever.
    Don’t confuse this with  file syncing, like dropbox, and likewise don’t confuse file syncing for true backup. I would use dropbox in conjunction with CrashPlan, but not just dropbox alone.

  20. Michael Rapini

    The online backup service I use and love is carbonite. Its very light on my systen resources and internet connection and I have a 4 year old laptop thinkpad T-43. I even forget its there except for a small icon in the tray. At $58.00 per year Im very pleased with this service. Everytime I change a file or folder its backed up. I have no idea yet what if any the limit is however as of this time Im over 150 gigs

  21. Ashok

    @GaryKC: Humyo allows you to create a direct link to any folder and share with your users. On the right part of the screen, you would see “Sharing” under which is an icon “kind of orange arrow” that creates a direct link which you then publish to any user.

    I am a paid member of Humyo so I hope this sharing works for gratis members too :)

  22. Bonnie Domeny

    I use Mozy paid and haven’t had any difficulties with it on Vista 64. It backed up 72 GB in the background over 2 days and then does incremental updates daily.
    My laptop (XP) has the free version and sometimes it gets slow and bulky.  The laptop is old and slow anyway so that could be part of it.
    I also use Carbonite for keeping things synched between computers.  Love that feature.  It’s a little expensive to use as a full backup, but it’s great to have my important files wherever I need them.

  23. jivadas

    I think I first heard about Dropbox here.
       Besides backing-up my files (which you too should do as often as possible: I also use Carbonite for this purpose, having hired them long-ago when my PC burned a wire), Dropbox allows me a unique method of pre-publishing the 500 Chapters of a book on which I’m working. The 500 Dropbox Keys [URLs] will each open its Chapter. Collaborators, after an email invitation, can add their comments, which will appear within moments in the Dropbox. 
       Dropbox has numerous forums for its users.
       And it’s easy to use.
       A++

     

  24. Tony

    Thanks for this.
    I have previously backed up mainly photos with gmail and skydrive.
    Gave Dropbox a whirl today, so easy to use and syncs very well.
    Got an extra 250 mb thanks to the referall and an extra 250 by completing the getting started section.
    Going to give a few referals now to family and friends to get a bit more space.
     
    Thanks again :)
     

  25. Rocky

    This article came just at the right time. I tried using Mozy a couple of weeks ago and ended up uninstalling it. I’ve been searching for a good alternative and most of what I need to know is right here. Thanks

  26. GaryKC

    Is there anywhere to upload jpg files so others can download them? I’ve uploaded 100mb to both humyo and dropbox, both require providing email addresses of those I want to let see them. A link to the files would be great without having to give addresses.

  27. old poet

    jumbi #41 – you are correct, I forgot – I got on to Jungle disk when it was free and just starting- now it costs me $1/month + Amazon S3 storage charges which for me are a few cents/month. If  starting with it now I guess the fees are as you discovered. “old” as in forgetful!

  28. Dave McGraw

    Locutus,
    Your chart shows “NO” for encryption under Dropbox but I’m confused by that because the Dropbox web page at http://www.dropbox.com/features says…
    - All transmission of file data and metadata occurs over an encrypted channel (SSL).
    - All files stored on Dropbox servers are encrypted (AES-256) and are inaccessible without your account password.

  29. Jabtano

    I use dropbox on my desktop and laptop. it fits my needs very well. it does what i need it to do without any hassle.So i’m very happy with it. for me there is not need to be using another when dropbox fir my needs so perfectly.

  30. jumbi

    # Mr.Dave
    Zumodrive seems very interesting. I am sticking to dropbox but will test it in the future.
    Thanks
     
    # Zain
    Ahhh Zain, you underestimate the possibilities…
    Let me give you a simple example:
    Just think of someone who has multiple computers. Nowadays its not so rare with cheap netbooks etc
    e.g. I have 7 computers and I NEED at least 4 of them (home pc, job pc, notebook, netbook) to share the same data.
    He wants to have his favorite 100 files available all the time, even when he is off internet. And I mean of course the last versions of them.
    Downloading all the time the last versions manually with idrive is very time consuming. Dropbox does it automatically, you dont even have to make a single click !!

  31. Ash

    Memopal (and their counterpart in US just launched Safecopy) are very price competitive now. However their speeds of upload/download have not been as lightening as iDrive so I stayed with iDrive after my 1st year.

    Acronis also started an online backup service but its new, interface sucks, froze many times so its not mature at this time.

    Dropbox has been great for free 2GB which allows me to share files with anyone I like, however their pricing plans are a bit steep. I wish it would drop so many of us would jump on to it.

    So my favorite and reliable service remains iDrive.

    If above posters dropbox links are exhaused after the max 8GB limit, anybody wanting to sign up using my link below would get us each 250MB extra. Thanks folks and enjoy:

    https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTMyOTc1MjA5
     
     

  32. Zain

    I use IDrive and pretty pleased with the performance. It offers you 2 gb free space and after creating account just sign in with any email address of yours in idrive referring panel and get and additional 10 gb free . that’s total of 2+10= 12 gb free.
    Its desktop client is lighting fast, lets you retrieve files instantly with an impressive download/upload speed.
    The best thing about iDrive – when you need to backup a file all you have to do is to right click the file and select back up!
    … you don’t have to copy the file and put it in the stupid ‘drop box’ type folder on the same hard drive.

  33. Mr.Dave

    Thanks, Locutus for your excellent review and getting everyone thinking about offsite backups.  We keep a stack of DVDs in a safe deposit box but they don’t get updated as often as they should… and we should upgrade to a small external drive for that anyway, much more storage and it would still fit!.
    I’m surprised no one has mentioned ZumoDrive yet (or does everyone else know somthing I don’t?).  I’ve been using it for a few months now and it seems very similar to Dropbox.  They start you out with 1 GB for free but if you work your way through their online tutorial (and get your Zumo Black Belt) you get another 1 GB free.
    It supports multiple “watched” folders for synching, can keep all file revisions if you want, you can create public URL links for specific files or whole folders for sharing, and can also share files/folders in a way that others can make changes and add new files – great for collaborating with a group of people.
    Storage can be expanded to 10GB for $2.99/month, 50GB for $10, on up to 500GB for $80/month.  It looks like another drive partition so you can use another synch program or encryption to put things in there (I like Karen Kenworthy’s free “PTReplicator” – she offers lots of other useful tools WITH VB source code).
    I’ve found it to be slow for uploads and reasonable for downloads.  It has a task-tray icon for status (I think you to turn this off, takes about 57MB of memory on my PC!), and a nice web interface with built in picture slideshows.
    Can you tell I like this one?  But I use it for sharing files more than for backups.  Even 10 GB of space would backup less than 2% of my files.  But I think with Karen’s Replicator and some more planning, I could make an automated offsite backup of some of the more critical ones. And for the record, I have no affiliation with ZumoDrive, I found it through Yahoo mail where it’s one of the “applications” they support – quite pleased when I realized it’s not limited to Yahoo!
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  34. Jon

    I have never used an online backup service; that really has more to do with a lack of money, but also a lack of time to do the research.  I’m one of those poor schmuck’s that has always done backups the conventional way.  That’s not to say that I haven’t been interested in perhaps looking into an online service.  And so, I find this article, and the comments very interesting and I will be looking into it.  Lot’s of good info in here.

  35. jumbi

    # old poet
    Perhaps no one has mentioned Jungle Disk, because it is not free as the title of the subject says. Is it?
    (At least I cant find a free service at their homepage).
    If its not, it should be compared with other commercial services like norton, acronis, etc… but that’s another post subject.

  36. Samuel

    @Loctus: For the most part I love the article. I backup to my WHS so no need for online for me :D

    While include SkyDrive though? While I do use it, it’s not ment as a back up solution and there for does have its flaws for that kind of usage (mostly those steps need to make it work like one).

  37. old poet

    Thanks for the review Locutus.
    Dropbox is soo useful.  I use it to share files with others and to make cross platform exchanges.
    No one has mentioned Jungle Disk which I also use and I am quite happy with the results. Each “disk” may be password protected and it does daily backups.

  38. David Roper

    Question?  Let’s say I back up a file online called Taxes2008.xls
    The next week or day, the file Taxes2008.xls gets corrupted.   But I don’t realize because I don’t use it everyday.
    The next week that file gets backed up automatically with all the others.   The CRC on it has changed.  Corruption changed its date as well.  I didn’t know about it.   After all, I will not use it for a year.
    Now what happens when I try to use it next year?  UhOh?
    Methinks the dedicated folder for backup is the way to go, but even that won’t prevent errors in data or date.
    What Am I missing?  Help.
     
     

  39. Eddy

    Does anyone know if DropBox works behind a company firewall (without special settings on that firewall). The latest version of Memopal has a problem with it (earlier versions did not).
     

  40. jumbi

    # Adrian
    I know about the writer, I have already mentioned later, perhaps you haven’t seen later comments.
    I also use Adrive for secondary big files that I do not need to carry to every computer.
    Nevertheless it cannot be compared to Dropbox’s syncing functionality.
    If you try it, you will better understand what we all mean.
    Dropbox is miles ahead…

    By the way, BIG THANKS TO ALL FRIENDS here, who have taken advantage of my dropbox invitation thus increasing mine and their initial space an extra 250MB.

    https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTU2NzYzMjQ5

    IF I am about to reach the free limit, I will all let you know so that others take advantage as well. Feel free to publish your link as well-I dont want to be accused for exploiting dottech wonderful forum :-)

  41. Joji

    You know, when I visited dot.Tech today, I’m like “hey… why is Locu’s post on dot.Tech? Did Ashraf steal it!?” Then I’m like “nahh, not possible” and I looked  carefully who wrote it and it’s written by Locu himself! XD
     
    LoL… nice post ,but what happened to that computer in the picture??? What’s that black piece of sh#t? O_O
     
    ~Joji~

  42. anemailname

    Thanks for the article Locutus. I had been looking for storage, Mozy is terrible!! Sorry Sue, but I didn’t like their idea of security.
    Anyway, I’m going to try Adrive even though their site hurt my eyes! LOL But I will keep Dropbox in mind as well!

  43. redmaledeer

    Locutus – What about the stability and permanence of these companies?   For Skydrive you say “You know it won’t disappear overnight.”   How did you decide that,  and what about the other companies?
     
    Thanks for a very interesting review.

  44. Locutus
    Author/

    @Sue D. Nymme: Unfortunately I did not call their support staff.  I didn’t realize that their free customers could!
    I now am using 225 MB of Dropbox’s space.  I use it only for the pictures I put in articles… why do I do that?  *ponders*

  45. Sue D. Nymme

    I don’t know what the problem with Mozy was; I’ve been using Mozy for maybe six months now, and I have almost 150GB backed up with them.  I have a friend who has been using them for over a year.  Sorry to hear it didn’t work out for you.  Did you call their tech support?
    And I agree that Dropbox is great, if you don’t mind the size limitation (or are willing to pay their steep prices for additional storage).

  46. Eddy

    @Jumbi: Thanks for confirming! Well, it is not a major problem, but it means that I have to re-organise my existing folder structures and move all of my working folders into the shared folder.  Technically, there is no reason why DropBox would not be able to watch multiple folders.
    At the time, I decided to go with Memopal. A commercial solution: 50 euro/year for 200 GB.
    + : – Memopal can watch any number of existing folders to backup.
    – One subscription can be used on any number of pc’s.
    – Lots of GB’s for your euro’s (or dollars)
    - : – The GUI sucks …

  47. sunrise

    @jumbi:yup…already give permission :) i believe if something come from dottech is free from spyware,etc :) unless ashraf himself write a spyware :) but this will make a big conspiracy between ashraf and other loyal member :D

  48. jumbi

    # sunrise
    you have a shared folder, thats all. No spyware unless shared is spyware for you. Just tell Online Armor to permit it (if you want the service).

    #RobCr
    For Dropbox, I mentioned above: You have the files in your desktop folder so you encrypt them as you like.
    So the hacker, has to crack as well axcrypt or truecrypt… quite difficult.
    Even so, its your choise what you upload or not. You dont have to upload financial data or you may write in a way that only you know. To give an example: I do have some sensitive data encrypted on dropbox with passwords and numbers but even if a hacker manages to cracks everything and reach my files, he will not understand what I mean cause I replace some characters with something I only know.
    e.g. k…. is my typical password for a word starting with k and has 6 characters. I use it often, I always remember but no one can guess it.
    4…5… is my typical number password which has 8 numbers/symbols and only 2 of them are visible.
    Simple and safe tactic. There can be many personal variations.

    # Eddy:
    This is indeed how it works (with a shared folder) but I do not understand your problem. Into the synced folder you may have any others folders just like into your documents and they are all automatically syncronised.

  49. Eddy

    I tried DropBox more than a year ago. One feature that made me decide to NOT use it was the fact that files to be sync’ed and backed up had to be stored in one particular folder only. It was not possible to select multiple folders for DropBox to watch and synchronise.  Is that still the case in the last version?
     

  50. .mau.

    I have an account on aDrive and humyo,  but I did not use them a lot.  (I prefer to keep an external hard drive for backups) Dropbox… well, it’s not a backup system, but it’s a must for everyone working on more than one computer!

  51. Ashok

    Spent considerable effort last year testing and choosing various players listed above and settled on iDrive 150GB deal for $50/year.

    Upload/download speeds are great, can choose own encryption so even their system can’t peak at my files. Maintains 30 versions of any file forever (not 30 days like some other companies do).

    It does not have sync features but you can access your data from any computer (even while traveling from any hotel or café computers) using the web based interface, no client install required. One other drawback of iDrive, unlike Dropbox or Humyo, it can not share files or folders with anybody.

    Deleted files are stored permanently on the cloud backup until manually deleted by you (using a sync feature) which has saved me many times when I deleted a file and didn’t remember it. Most sync services such as DropBox would delete such files permanently.

    iDrive just announced a new product iDriveSync (unlimited capacity for $5 per month) which allows you to sync your data on upto 5 computers (similar to DropBox) and share any file/folder with upto 10 people using their email addersses. This is different from iDrive Backup service as deleted files are also deleted from sync’d computers so the combination of the two (iDrive Backup and iDrivesync) might be helpful but then its $50+50/year for the two services.

    Humyo had a promo for 50% off on Jan 1st so I got 100GB sync service for $32 for a year and it has worked great. Humyo is sync service but also maintains older versions and keeps deleted files.

    Also signed up for SpiderOak paying $75/yr promo but then it had problems, froze in 2 days, had automatic sign ins on a shared computer so anybody could see data backed by the admin etc so contacted the company and managed to get 50% refund even though I never used their service to begin with. Their reasoning – we give you 2GB free to test our services before you buy.

    iDrive has been real fast for both upload/download so I am very happy with $50/yr of 150GB online backup using my own encryption key!
     
     BEWARE: Many promo services that give you 2GB or 10GB free allow you to upload the data but retrieving is VERYYYYYYYYYYYYY slow forcing you to buy their paid service. Try retrieving your free upload data and you would notice what I am telling you with Humyo (10GB service) or Mozy.
     

  52. jumbi

    # Ashraf:
    Yes, I noticed afterwards that Locutus is the guilty criminal writer :-)

    Correction to my fast enthusiastic post:
    “After Dropbox, I do need to try any other online backup systems.”
    is of course:
    “After Dropbox, I do NOT need to try any other online backup systems.”

    # phoenix_rising: I am glad you feel the same and I am not alone :-)

    # Locutus: Congratulations for the super article!
    Whoever reads this and tries Dropbox will thank you for ever!
    Are you trying to drive donators to your account?!? :-) :-)

  53. Ted

    Carbonite works very good and it costs me $54/year, unlimited storage space.  I’ve recently used it to re-load a new laptop.  Very easy to use, and it also notifies you if (for some reason) it is unable to upload your current files.  Highly recommended, and you get a free trial.
    Ted Browne

  54. Ron

    @Locutus: Your article started me thinking (never an easy option!), so I went to the Acronis website to check up on Acronis Online. Looks like it interfaces nicely with TI Home 2010, so maybe….
    It’s an interesting idea, anyway. I’ve had drives fail a couple of times and an external HD get corrupted. I’m going to investigate this a little more. Thanks.

  55. ha14

    for large free space WINDOWS LIVE SKYDRIVE,
    IDRIVE: It offers 2 gb free space. but after creating an account and simply referring idrive to your contacts you can get 10 gb extra free space
    ADRIVE: does not provide desktop client in free account any more or this is what i think

  56. jumbi

    Ashraf, you must be kidding me!
    You should have written this article before I had spent so much time searching!
    (unless you discovered Dropbox from any comment of mine during last month where I “advertise” all over the net).

    I had search in the past and did not find any practical online backup.
    After a year or so, just last month I discovered accidentally Dropbox.

    Its amazingly practical! Its my second hand now and I can’t live without it!
    I stopped copying files all around 3 usb sticks, emailing, using google docs, etc…
    Even to-do lists or business files, are all automatically syncronised!

    After Dropbox, I do need to try any other online backup systems.

    During my recent research, I checked again to other services. Some of them from the past have stopped totally or stopped free services (I have a 30 day trial of Norton Online Backup but I am not going to try at all).
    I had found also that adrive offers this huge 50gb space, so I kept it for big files that I want archived but which I do not need access often.

    Notes for Dropbox:
    - Encryption is not a problem with Dropbox, as you may use whatever tool you like for encrypting files or folders in the syncronised forlder from your desktop (eg with axcrypt or truecrypt vol files).
    - Speed is automatically selected (and not full all the time) according to your free bandwidth. Very handy for background sync.

    P.S.
    Whoever subscribes to Dropbox through my link invitation below, gets an extra 250mb to the 2gb free space! (Through invitations, you may get up to 8gb max free).
    Nothing to lose, just both gain and if you try it, you will not regret it:

    https://www.dropbox.com/referrals/NTU2NzYzMjQ5

  57. Ron

    The only time I used online backup was to set up a convenient way for her to sync My Documents between her netbook and desktop. Dropbox was what I picked; so far it seems to work, even though I’m usually the one who does the syncing for her. (It’s interesting being a geek when your best friend is a confirmed Luddite)
    My personal backup habits are so ingrained that online storage is hardly a consideration otherwise.

  58. Sandy

    I have to say I have been extremely satisfied with Carbonite.  I recently experienced (I am NOT kidding or exaggerating) my PCU hard drive crashing in the same week as my lap top crashed and two external drives crashed.  I was able to recover everything from Carbonite – and that included all my tax info which I needed this past week.  I had lost and it recovered over a quarter of a million files!  I had no idea I had that much crap!  I have needed to cntact them 3 times for help on something – and each time, I was able to get online to chat with them within a few minutes, they all solved my issues, and everyone of them wrote  (chat) in English which any lay person could understand, as well gave me the opportunity to copy the comments and/or receive them via email.  It’s extremely user friendly, priced fairly (and if any of you wan to mention me recommending it, I’ll save 3 mos. worth of renewal.   lol  But, srioiusly, it’s not why I mentioned it – I really do believe in their product and their customer service.