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Online Backup Service Buying Guide

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Online Backup Service Buying Guide

Tips for finding the best online backup service for your situation.

David Blane
by | Posted: April 16, 2013 | Updated: May 9, 2013

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It's time to pick out online backup. How do you choose the best backup plan for your situation?

There are five key factors that will simplify the process and make your decision a piece of cake. We will determine which plan is best for you based on amount of space, level of service, types of features, comparing with other services, and test out the service.

1. Amount Of Space

Figuring out how much space you will be backing up is one of the most crucial steps in finding the best plan for you. This is because a lot of companies price their plans according to how much space is used.

To see how much space you will need organize your files and add up the total amount of bytes they take up (Megabytes, Gigabytes, Terabytes, etc…). Learn how to find large files on your computer to easily sort out those you want to backup from those you do not.

Tip: on a Mac right-click on a folder or file and select "Get Info" to see the size of an items contents. On a Windows right click on a file or folder and select "Properties" to see the same information.

2. Level Of Service

You may already know the answer to this question. There is a difference between personal and business backup. Personal plan prices start a little lower but you get less space and features. Business plan prices are higher, have more tools, better technical support and more space (sometimes, The total space is shared among several users).

An example of this is SugarSync's two plans, personal and business.

  • SugarSync's personal plan comes with 60GB's for $7.49/month for 1 user. You can use that 60GB's for anything you want to sync across your personal devices. You do not get features like admin dashboard, user management, collaboration or email integration.
  • SugarSync's business plan comes with 1TB of space and three user accounts for $55/Month. That's around 333GB's and $18/month per user. You get features like admin dashboard, user management, collaboration and email integration.

Not all personal and business plans are this simple. Others may incorporate other unique tools and more space. It varies based on the company.

The deciding factors comes down to space, users and features.

3. Types Of Features

Different companies will offer different features in order to stand out from the crowd, but these companies all share some of the same, more common features. Here are the most common features and when they are useful.

  • Syncing - Useful for a person or company who needs data automatically delivered to multiple devices using the internet. Syncing is commonly done with a special folder that you put files into. All files inside this folder are copied to all other devices which also have this folder.  
  • User Management - Only applicable to multiple user plans, this feature gives administrators control over the users through permission settings. businesses like this type of control so they can specify roles for employees and give them a set amount of backup space.
  • Collaboration - This takes advantage of syncing technology by keeping all documents up to date real time across multiple computers. Businesses like this feature a lot because it allows for everyone to work on a document together and make changes quickly. This feature usually has the document history saved so that each time someone updates the document you can still retrieve older versions.
  • Scheduling - A must have feature for both personal and business users. Scheduling allows you to plan backups for when the computer will be the least busy so it does not tie up resources. Two examples are businesses which schedule backups for everyday after work and personal users who schedule backups for nights and weekends.

For a full list of common terms used by backup companies and what they mean check out our list of definitions.

4. Compare The Services

For this you need a piece of paper and an hour or so. Select a few companies (use our top picks list). Once you have found some companies, make a table like the one below. This is an simple example of how we break down backup companies.

Company Price Space Users Syncing Visit
MyPC Backup $4.95/Month Unlimited 1 User 1GB Sync Folder Go
SugarSync $7.49/Month 60GB 1 User Fully Syncable Go
IBackup $9.95/Month 100GB 1 User No Syncing Go
Box

$9.95/Month

25GB 1 User Fully Syncable Go

You can expand this comparison table to include features like we listed in step 3 should you find them an integral part of your online backup search. If you want to learn more about each company, simply click on their name to view our review of them.

5. Test Out The Service

Don't hesitate to try out a company. Most will let you use a free trial or offer a money back guarantee. Worst case scenario is you pay for just one month of service up front and cancel if you do not like them.

If you have followed our comprehensive backup guide, you will be prepared for testing each company with the process that's best for you.

Here are some things you can test.

  • First start by testing the backup software installation. Was it easy? Did you have any issues right off the bat? Or did it simply just work?
  • Second, test the how easy it is to configure your first backup. How long did it take you to figure out how to select files and folders? Was the interface easy to navigate?
  • Third, monitor the speed. How fast were you able to backup your initial backup (these normally take a couple of days depending on files size)?
  • Fourth, test how easy it is to retrieve files. How easy was it to restore files from the web? How about using the software? Can you get the functionality out of syncing across multiple devices that you want?
  • Fifth, ensure features live up to expectations. Does scheduling work well? How about collaboration? Can you share files with the people you want to?
  • Sixth, conclude results. If you were dead set on one company before you started but they have performed badly, don't waste your time and money giving them the benefit of the doubt. Testing companies is the sure-fire way to know what you need and cutout the riffraff.

Conclusion

Essentially what we have taught you in this guide are the most effective ways to pick a backup company. Since we have used backup companies for years, our guides are written from experience.

David Blane

David is fascinated with technology and loves trying out the latest and greatest apps. He's a big proponent of using technology to simplify your life; not make it more complicated. This is why he loves online backup and cloud syncing services. Follow him to stay informed with his latest posts!

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About Online Backup Search

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