Home > Computers, Software > Online & Peer-To-Peer Backup

Online & Peer-To-Peer Backup

June 20th, 2008

I’ve been assessing various backup options for both business and personal use recently so here’s a summary of my findings

The problem with any form of local backup such as CD/DVD or external hard drive is that it only protects you from a hard drive crash. If someone steals your computer or your house burns down, it’s likely that you’ll lose the backup as well.

Off-site backups avoid these risks although there are disadvantages – if you are doing it manually you have to remember to do it and to take the backup off site (e.g. store the CDRs/external drive at work or a friends house)

Online backups are automatic and are stored off-site, but the disadvantage is that backups and restores take a very long time. They can also be very expensive.

The final option is Peer-To-Peer (p2p) backup. This is similar to traditional online backup but instead of your data being stored at some company’s datacentre, it is stored on a friend’s PC. Most people have massive hard drives these days so setting aside some for a friend’s backup is not a problem.

Anyway, my findings…

Online Backup

Most of these are expensive – into the 10s of dollars per month once you go above 5GB storage, however if you look around there are some very well priced unlimited services.

Carbonite

Price: Free 15 day trial / $49.95 per year Unlimited Storage

This seems to receive good reviews and the install and configuration was simple enough. Some reviews mentioned problems restoring and also that tech support wasn’t brilliant. They also have an Acceptable Usage Policy so it’s not really unlimited. I decided against this one.

Mozy

Price: FREE limited version / $54.45 per year Unlimited Storage

Lots of positive reviews although some criticism of the UI being too simple. Personally I like it and it allows some powerful filtering. Tech support seems to be good, although I’ve had no contact myself. Explicitly states in the FAQ that there are no limits on number of files, file size, or total space usage. Free account gives you 2GB storage, although you get 0.25GB extra for everyone who you refer. It’s possible to get files sent to you on DVD although this is expensive and only available in the USA. Think I’m going to use Mozy for my online backup

Peer-To-Peer Backup (P2P)

There are plenty of P2P file sharing applications out there which allow you to synchronise a folder on your PC with one on a friend’s PC, however, by definition these allow your friend to read your files. A proper backup system will encrypt you files so your friend has no idea what data you are backing up to their PC.

FolderShare

Price: FREE

I’ve been using this for a few years and it works very well, however it is just a file sharing system. I mention it because it’s great for backing up something like your MP3 collection where you don’t mind your friend having access. You can make the shared files read only so your friend can’t change them. One problem with FolderShare is that it doesn’t cope very well with removable storage, so libraries on external drives can be a bit sketchy.

BuddyBackup

Price: Free limited version, £10 for full version (one-off fee)

On first impression this seems good, but I then had problems with it crashing, and didn’t receive any reply from tech support. Has lots of potential but doesn’t seem to be under active development.

LogMeIn Backup

Price: $39.95 /year per PC

Haven’t tried this. I have tried some of their other services so based on those I expect this to be excellent.

CrashPlan

Price: Free 30 day trial / $20 (one-off fee) for Standard version / $60 (one-off fee) for Pro version

This seems excellent and it looks like the one I’m going with. Reasonably simple to configure although it did require port forwarding Release Notes show the project is currently very active and they seem to respond to user comments. Another bonus is that CrashPlan works on Windows, Mac and Linux (soon) and each can backup to the other.

Useful features that are apparently coming soon:

  • Local backup to USB drive and later continuing differentially over the WAN
  • Local restore from a USB drive that was once remote

Conclusion

At the moment it looks like I’m going to end up with a combination of Mozy, FolderShare and CrashPlan. This will cost about £55 for first year and £28 a year after that. Seems good value to me. There is actually a hidden cost though – the hard drive space required to hold friends’ backups. That said, I just bought a 500GB drive for £60, so it’s not too expensive

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  1. June 21st, 2008 at 01:45 | #1

    On the subject of file backup, sharing and storage …

    Online backup is becoming common these days. It is estimated that 70-75% of all PC’s will be connected to online backup services with in the next decade.

    Thousands of online backup companies exist, from one guy operating in his apartment to fortune 500 companies.

    Choosing the best online backup company will be very confusing and difficult. One website I find very helpful in making a decision to pick an online backup company is:

    http://www.BackupReview.info

    This site lists more than 400 online backup companies in its directory and ranks the top 25 on a monthly basis.

  2. June 23rd, 2008 at 23:06 | #2

    Hi! Glad to hear we made it to the final round! :)
    Love to hear any feedback you have on product. Drop us a line at support (at) crashplan.com with any feature suggestions you might have.

    Best regards,

    ~CrashPlan dev team

  3. June 26th, 2008 at 13:10 | #3

    I discovered a Memopal (www.memopal.com) “cutting edge solution for online
    backup”

    They merged online backup, online storage and file sharing services into one product.

    If you try this service you will notice that (contrary to most competitors):
    – You can access your files in (true) real time with a web browser
    – They really offer 250 GB (some competitors offer a fake unlimited web
    space, they say “fair use”)
    – You can share a file or many files with the 1-click-share functionality
    – Some of your files will be uploaded very very fast (turboupload)
    – The service and website are in 10 different languages

    I’ve also found two useful guide to online backup on Wikipedia:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online_backup

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