Five Considerations for an Online Backup Service

Online backups for your computer have really gone mainstream. You may have noticed commercials on TV for them; specifically Mozy and Carbonite. There are others in addition to these which are less well known: Ibackup, IDrive, Iron Mountain, SOS Online Backup to name a few.

The importance of backing up your computer files for your home based business cannot be overstated. Online backups are replacing the old style of backing up (burning CD’s, copying to external hard drives, etc). Online backups have the indisputable advantage of giving you an “offsite” solution to your backups, which those old school backup methods did not. So what are some things to consider when selecting an online backup service?

Price – Obviously price would be the first thing to look at. Also look at what the pricing options are. Do they have an annual reduced fee for example? And don’t forget to look at how much storage you get for the advertised price. In most cases, there is a cap on the storage. Make sure you understand what that is. Do you have to pay extra for storage above that limit?

First Backup – These services work by dealing mostly with changed files. That means you have one master backup that encompasses everything. Then subsequent backups only deal with files you’ve changed, added, or deleted. This first backup can be ‘painful’ however depending on how many files you have and how big they are. Check to see how the service handles this “first backup”.

Software – All the online backup services I know of use at least some client side software. That means you are likely to have to install their software on your computer. Does the software run all the time? Does it impede computer performance? Can it easily be turned off when not needed?

Ease of Use – The software should be easy to use. It should be easy to choose the files you want to backup and retrieve. And it should do this via a schedule of your choosing. The software should automatically perform the backup according to whatever schedule you set. (Hint: set the scheduled backups for late at night and leave your computer on that night).

File Retrieval – The most important activity you might need to do with an online backup service is retrieve a deleted file. Perhaps you deleted it by accident or you moved it somewhere and can’t find it. How easy is it going to be to get that file back? I have read that Mozy for example, deletes files when you do. In other words, if you delete a file, it assumes that you want that file deleted and it deletes the file from you online backup! Check for issues like this when you’re shopping for an online backup service.

Many of these things are somewhat subjective and can’t be determined until you actually try the product. Check to see if they have a free trial period where you can ‘try them out’. With all these choices, there are few excuses for not backing up your home based business files! Also, all these choices make it easy to switch service if you are not happy with your current one. Be sure to also refer to the related post Tips for Managing an Online Backup Service.