By Paul Gauntlett
Offsite backup is the holy grail for those of us who want belt, braces and a pinch of salt to throw over the shoulder. I've tried lots of alternatives and my current choice is Mozy. It's ok for the price but I have encountered unexpected slowdowns and connection problems that other testing proves is nothing to do with my ISP. I was happiest with Jungle Disk but found it relatively expensive for the amount of data I am storing (130GB). Memopal was also a great favourite (a bit like Dropbox but the Mac software is not yet up to the mark). I'm only on a monthly contract with Mozy so could move elsewhere at any time. If I could face three weeks' backing up all over again that is.
I kept this informal list of frustrations as I tested each service. Bear in mind, though, that several of these tests were done some time ago and things might have changed. There is a vast list of factors that can influence the speed and efficiency of a backup service, not least of which being your own ISP's upload speed. Typically, upload speeds are a low fraction of the advertised download capability. Most of these services take weeks to do an initial backup of even, say, 35GB: From then on it is considerably faster.
- Steek: 100GB limit
- Elephant Drive: 1GB file limit
- iDrive: Uses a lot of memory
- Jungle Disk: Too expensive the home use
- Backblaze: Seems slow but offers zip-file restoration
- Mozy: Bad past experience, including slowness
- Safecopy: No way of seeing speed of transfer
- Novastor: PC only
- ADrive: 50GB limit and expensive
- Diino: 100GB limit, clumsy software
- Spideroak: $10 per month per 100GB
- Data Deposit Box: $2 per GB per month!
- Memopal: Allows file search, instant updating (like Dropbox) and download links. Slow, buggy software (seizes up)
- Carbonite: Uses up huge amounts of CPU, backup sometimes slows to a glacial speed.
So offsite backup is not yet for the faint-hearted, but it does work once you have overcome the initial obstacles. Michael Evans, who uses Carbonite, has had a number of issues and is currently working them out with the help of technical support. He'll report on his findings when (if) the problems get resolved.