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17 Online File Storage Services Tested 186

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the kicking-the-tires dept.
prostoalex writes "PC World reviewed 17 online file storage services. According to the summary: 'Of the 17 services we tried, our favorite backup service is IBackup, while the GoDaddy Online File Folder is our pick of the storage sites. And for sharing files, we like the free 4shared.com service.'" They're also thoughtful enough to include a warning about the pitfalls of saving your data online.
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17 Online File Storage Services Tested

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  • And thankfully... (Score:5, Informative)

    by daveschroeder (516195) * on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:19PM (#15587114)
    ...there's a printer friendly version [pcworld.com] with the entire article on one page, so you don't have to click through 458 different pages, each with its own half-sentence of the article on it.

    I'd also note that Apple's .Mac [mac.com] service is missing. It provides AFP, WebDAV, and web-based access for Mac (and Windows) users, as well as online file storage [mac.com], online file, calendar, mail, and preference syncing [mac.com], online backup [mac.com], and the normal collection of web [mac.com] and email [mac.com] services.
    • Re:And thankfully... (Score:5, Informative)

      by MustardMan (52102) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:21PM (#15587120)
      And a pathetically tiny amount of storage space, and no domain name registration.

      I'd register a dotmac account in a second, if they didn't max out at two gigs of storage.
    • I'd also note that Apple's .Mac service is missing. It provides AFP, WebDAV, and web-based access for Mac (and Windows) users, as well as online file storage, online file, calendar, mail, and preference syncing, online backup, and the normal collection of web and email services.

      I reckon that's probably because it was written by PC World. Whaddya think, hmm?
    • Re:And thankfully... (Score:3, Informative)

      by telbij (465356)
      Another one they missed is Strongspace [strongspace.com]. Although they are a bit more expensive, they offer SFTP and shell access in addition to their web interface. I don't doubt that some of these others have cool features in their clients, but I'm guessing a sizable minority are happier using standard unix tools like rsync. How scriptable are those other services?
      • Strongspace is cool, but I've quickly become a fan of Amazon's S3, using the likes of Jungledisk - which has a Mac and Windows client which mount themselves as hard disks so any backup solution can do a copy over. 1TB/space and 1TB/transfer will cost $25/month at $.10/G/month storage and $.15/G/transfer. Can't beat those prices...
    • Slashdot (Score:5, Funny)

      by TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) on Friday June 23, 2006 @01:06AM (#15587505)
      I like to use Slashdot.

      Oh, and if you'll excuse me:

      EUBlwnaUF7o+vCdUMIVZE7y9zYT3oEDfgE0Qtcbrtr+TmY+cby taK1IINefHALf9
      MODwUT4bXdlAXI3y8vW840JVYJ9ZSv7q6H Z6PGnkER0yfzcmCedJiRKE7liPupAN
      6njGVp4ngTLk6/yrZL x2McRrIm4ktCWrgXpqjaQilwRREf1+BIjpyBU8O3GUuytD
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      1iCR6xmaNsFiv3xKwar2FODwdDYvvQK3unPm zUH8cOaGL7MQ8AIlBxG6oQO3pY6Q
      hFpjybv7jzT4kGrthEk9 RbFZo9zgLLcgJZ2OM3zHCgmNFvQCXrmmGvBzi2Kl/Mb1
      97rv ys8ffGM2DLUnYJd4bw+JPLicafZD7cs/eVJ7R9f7webpA66jGc mxrO1uquWF
      hC5VpCBZa25MCTZ6TlP4qrBA71xH7a3k1e7GzD 6hHr69Gv3n5OtLnv1KGrkOlQlN
      yWPc2H7iDIhrffQHTTGhDD JNDhVOMPwLSLh1/LYiYoy+WTphcRO7nSZfPkMXlzCg
      Jj9KV+ pPrannvmbtLWaQVHtu51tpq7OiIEN9zdOi7yEH5T6+75xjN1vV xFNz70b5
      2LRoYAmShv62qRXBAxF+2AuN0dHXvC6P7cYsdMQo yFJWoUbBwZflFAY7cNpiGORJ
      p0WzEAWtOq8+aSoJ0bvARyP/ S3YXXnnhlcJeei3J8dTSAa79l+4iuv5ItMb0lNqo
      HFGqUXR/ 4DESI3vb42US1wfsaqhpLwROZkWfiJgjV+qpAIphQBIIlJ2RDS BGFqyb
      8VKPbqbhq8Xi2SPsFERIrRQ2B53pJiKLNYkBZnWsYz 5II5zEf5DtTK7b4yh6nIEa
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      W4dsrt7sSqHCa0QqzHPcLkaYYmARdpj68Uo6haCc4vIC 5DSQgs9l+ueXISWB5m4l
      lAgUkQeLhE9zNk0QVWiCNblrF4yb fp/q9676jyT+w26q5FmnWXX/EGbS3AcxJcbn
      cLMLw78cS8mC kPCzhX7hRCBf06Ca874UVscHWOaCuemrsdPR9OvEiUocKMSd+s 83
      dqsiWNks0hWUROn0za5k9pqtkdP+svtg7MuY5tTNZ8jWhV /oL+QEtGH/y49D2uGI
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      uXMnvj/umUFI/iC2MlYsLIOT60GNuiya 20hvLsJwSBE+WBuHpTrrJBSw8PXS4HKm
      • Re:Slashdot (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Ed Avis (5917)
        I like to use Google. When I accidentally trashed most of my bin/ directory [membled.com], I was able to recover most of the scripts from Google's cache.

        Another alternative is to make yourself a Sourceforge/Savannah/whatever project and use their CVS service. You do keep your important stuff in version control, right?
      • forgive my humble noobness and high userID, but err,

        I don't get the joke.

        maybe it's just the lager.
    • by CastrTroy (595695) on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:59AM (#15589163) Homepage
      I'd just recommend that if you know how to use FTP, go for a web hosting service. I pay $7.95 and I have 20 Gigs of space and 1000 GB of transfer. So, I can store tons of stuff, and have lots of other features like a blog and photo galleries. It's much cheaper than these services look, and you don't need any special software installed to access your stuff. Even windows comes with command line FTP.
      • Leechftp, while written in the win98 era, is still the best multithreaded FTP client that I've found. If anyone can offer me a better free-as-in-beer alternative, I'll switch.

        Only thing it chokes on is files >2GB; but again, it was written for Fat32.

        Every other Win FTP client I've tried chokes on large files as well. If I have a 22GB file that I need transferred, it either gets copied to the USB 2.0 external drive, or " netcat " gets the job done.

        http://stud.fh-heilbronn.de/~jdebis/leechftp/ [fh-heilbronn.de]
        • I use filezilla. I'm not sure how well it compares to Leech ( I remember liking that a lot) but I find that it's good enough. Plus it's still being maintained, which is a big plus.
          • Tried it; still choked on 4GB file. :(

            Honestly, there's no excuse for that these days - where are all the Bigfile, multi-threaded, free FTP clients for Windows - especially now that most users are using NTFS instead of Fat32?
  • by yagu (721525) * <yayagu.gmail@com> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:23PM (#15587124) Journal

    I've been waiting a long time for the arrival of internet storage -- I'd much rather let someone else manage the integrity and provide peace of mind.

    Concerns about services going out of business, security, their own data integrity aside for the moment (but NOT to be ignored), these listed and reviewed services still far exceed prices I'm (and I'm guessing many others) willing to pay. I easily have 100+GB I would like guaranteed safe and ongoing synced and always backed up.

    For now, I continue to maintain multiple hard drives on multiple machines with scripts that maintain backups, not easy, but effective and way more cost effective. And I expect soon NAS will come down in price enough to easily compete with any internet service -- of course internet services should come down in price too.

    Sigh... always just waiting for that tipping point, that threshold, but at the same time seeing my requirements always slightly ahead of that threshold... pictures get bigger, videos get easier, and my mp3 collections (ripped from my own CDs) is a given constant.

    Also for large internet storage, the big-pipe problem remains. I want an online storage from which I have reasonably unencumbered upload and download access. It would also be nice to see full T1 speeds at least (something not accessible to normal DSL or even cable subscribers). Don't know if and when that gets solved, and if solved how much additional expense is incurred. Sigh again.

    • You say it's too expensive and then you say you're concerned about these services going out of business.

      Well, you can't have it both ways. A cheap backup service is much more likely to go out of business.

      Backup is one service where you don't want to go to the lowest bidder.

      If your data is important enough, you'll pay a professional service a professional rate, to back it up. A backup service should be much more than some guy selling off pieces of his own USB drive attached to the Internet.
      • by Znork (31774) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:46AM (#15588265)
        "A cheap backup service..."

        An expensive backup service might be expensive because it's buying shiny crap at exorbitant rates. Which makes it even more likely to fail than the cheap one. The price tells you nothing about either what equipment they're using, the failure rates of said equipment, their redundancy level, or their solvency.

        "Backup is one service where you don't want to go to the lowest bidder."

        Yep, that's one of those typical backup salesman lines to watch out for.

        Backup is, in the end, about this: redundancy, redundancy and redundancy.

        For backup purposes, you'd be better off buying cheap pieces of USB drives off two different guys in their basement than a single expensive service.

        You _do_ want to go for the lowest bidder. Several of them, in fact. Redundant array of inexpensive backup solutions, as it were.
    • Actually, from the article, the yearly prices for storing any significant amount of data (100Gb+) are so high that buying an external HD pretty much pays itself in 1 or 2 months. From the article:

      Mozy's for-pay service is cheap compared with the norm: $20 for up to 5GB, $30 for 10GB, and $40 for 20GB--per annum. You get only five free restore operations per month, but that should be more than enough for most users.

      and

      The pay plan is more expensive than that of the other free service I looked at, Mozy, but a

      • Actually, from the article, the yearly prices for storing any significant amount of data (100Gb+) are so high that buying an external HD pretty much pays itself in 1 or 2 months.

        Depends how much your data is worth to you. If your house burns down, you may have lost all your physical drives in one go. That's why I like the idea of remote storage.
        • by balloonhead (589759) <doncuan.yahoo@com> on Friday June 23, 2006 @11:40AM (#15589820)
          Find a like-minded geek. Slashdot seems like a good place to start.

          Each needs:

          - storage space
          - high speed internet
          - always-on connectivity
          - high-level security (by which I mean encrypt your own data as much as you need to)

          Offer a swap. 100 GB each. You now have secure-enough (assuming good encryption), free (cost of your connection, already paid for), always-on (assuming each is geeky enough to leave computer on 24/7) backup and data storage.

          Of course, it all depends who you link up with. But you can get a few and have some multiple redundancy.

          I admit it has faults - but there are a few people here with large pipes, storage space, technical know-how and inclination to make it work. It has the added advantage of encouraging good encryption and security practices (i.e. if you don't follow them, your data is wide open).

          Don't like it? Pay for one of these data centres. Or stick it on P2P.
        • Generally speaking, most home users could get by with a backup window of a week (or even a month). Which makes it practical to use removable or detachable hard drives rotated to an offsite location (office, friend/family's house, bank vault).

          Get a good Firewire/USB drive enclosure like the BYTECC ME-835U2F, stick whatever sized drive in it that you want. Alternately, get a 5.25" enclosure like the ME-340U2F and stick DRW115 drive caddies in (with a small bit of drilling).

          Encrypt the drive with TrueCry
    • by OlivierB (709839) on Friday June 23, 2006 @03:18AM (#15587895)
      Sounds like you could use a Dedibox from http://www.dedibox.fr/ [dedibox.fr]
      They Offer a dedicated server with 160GB of HD, your OS of choice, 100MB bandwith and unlimited data.
      You can SSH, FTP, VNC, whatever you want. How does that sound?
      Price is 30/month.
      • Sounds like you could use a Dedibox from http://www.dedibox.fr/ [dedibox.fr] They Offer a dedicated server with 160GB of HD, your OS of choice, 100MB bandwith and unlimited data. You can SSH, FTP, VNC, whatever you want. How does that sound? Price is 30/month.

        This is very interesting to me; I was looking at virtual hosting a short while ago but I could not find anyone that offered enough space to backup my data (I'd be looking for 120gig minimum).

        Are there any English language equivalents that offer vast storage and

    • It would also be nice to see full T1 speeds at least (something not accessible to normal DSL or even cable subscribers)
      I have 20MB/s download and 1MB/s of upload. Granted the upload is somewhat less than a T1, but the download is just 10x faster. So all in all, I wouldn't trade my DSL connection with a T1, but for a pouch of gold.
  • Go GoDaddy! (Score:5, Funny)

    by ScentCone (795499) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:27PM (#15587137)
    A perfect place to put your data. And for only $4.95 per year more, they'll make it private.
  • what about eSnips? (Score:2, Informative)

    by justshawnf (866632)
    I'm kind of dissappointed they didn't look at http://www.esnips.com/ [esnips.com]. I know it's still beta, but 1 Gb storage free look like the best one going.
  • Sharepoint (Score:3, Informative)

    by mkendall (69179) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:30PM (#15587148) Homepage
    For businesses wanting online storage and sharing of files, an obvious contender not mentioned in the article is Microsoft's Sharepoint [microsoft.com], which is available as a hosted service from a number of providers such as Apptix [apptix.com] (who have a free 30-day trial).
    • Sharepoint is more of a document management system then a filespace. We use it at work, it's not that great. Zope is better in just about every aspect (except checkin and checkout which are still a royal pain in plone)
      • I am with you there. We use Sharepoint for our Intranet, and it's clunky at best... I've been charged with trying to make it's use better, but there's just enough of a learning curve that people would still rather stick to using a regular file server instead.

        That said... We had a strong need in my office for a file-sharing system recently... Our requirements were 1- Easy to Use. 2- Branded with our logo/colors 3- multiple levels of access and file restrictions, so that users only saw the files we wa
    • by killjoe (766577)
      Ifolders rocks. It's different in that everybody has the files locally but all files are synced. Cross platform too. Really great and open source.
  • Data Dumps (Score:5, Interesting)

    by headkase (533448) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:30PM (#15587150)
    Reminds me of a scene in The Turing Option [amazon.com] where the main character has to physically make a trip to an out of country data dump to retrieve some bad mojo. This leads to a question of where the posts data dumps are located? Which jurisdictions do they fall under and therefore what laws?
    And relatedly when gigabit connections become common sometime in the future you could keep your mp3's or divx movies in a dump and not notice any latency accessing them when the net isn't down ( ;) ).
  • MySpace (Score:3, Funny)

    by quokkapox (847798) <quokkapox@gmail.com> on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:36PM (#15587174)
    I'm still pissed about MySpace. I uploaded all 10MB of my pirated mp3s there back in 1999 (I also used IDrive until they too sold out). Now MySpace is just a cesspool of bad web design and a mirror of our vapid post-millennial American excuse for a culture.

    I want my 10MB back.
  • Perils (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lord_Dweomer (648696) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:39PM (#15587187) Homepage
    The major peril given a single-word mention in the article is PRIVACY. Remember, Google handed over Gmail emails, there's sure as hell nothing stopping them or any other company from handing over all of your data to the courts and probably even the NSA if they asked for it. Their advice to encryptt should be taken seriously. Can any more encryption-savvy slashdotters suggest some powerful encryption tools that would be suitable for backing up files online to be accessed from a remote location?

    • at least Mozy does, even in their free offering.
    • Ran any more encryption-savvy slashdotters suggest some powerful encryption tools that would be suitable for backing up files online to be accessed from a remote location?

      RAR archives can be encrypted, and I haven't heard of any cracks. Install WinRAR and it's a right-click away.

    • Encryption tools (Score:4, Informative)

      by ronys (166557) on Friday June 23, 2006 @05:00AM (#15588158) Journal
      For encrypting single files, gpg [gnupg.org] is probably the simplest solution. Note that you don't have to bother with key-rings, digital signatures, etc. Just use conventional encryption and a GOOD (can't emphasize this enough) password.

      A more user-friendly approach would be to use an encrypting file system, such as TrueCrypt [truecrypt.org], which presents a single file as a drive on your machine, and backup the encrypted file regularly.
    • When did Google hand over email, without a court order?
    • You should encrypt it before sending it out to the service provider. This way you don't care, what method THEY are using. In fact, you'd rather they used none at all.

      Personally, I am happy with CCrypt [mathstat.dal.ca], which is a secure replacement for the simple-minded Unix crypt(1) utility. The FreeBSD [freebsd.org] port [freshports.org] makes installing a breeze, as usual.

  • by NynexNinja (379583) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:43PM (#15587201)
    Anyone who takes thier data seriously would never think of doing such a thing. You have no idea what happens when your files get copied to some third party network.
    • by cdrudge (68377) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:58PM (#15587249) Homepage
      But couldn't use use that same argument with any type of hosting/shared server? How about companies like Iron Mountain that handle off site backup storage/archiving? Even if you kept 100% of your data in house, unless you keep everything under a very tight lock and key, it's still subject to employee/insider theft/misuse.
      • But couldn't use use that same argument with any type of hosting/shared server? How about companies like Iron Mountain that handle off site backup storage/archiving? Even if you kept 100% of your data in house, unless you keep everything under a very tight lock and key, it's still subject to employee/insider theft/misuse.

        It's all a question of managing one's risks:
        - A tight contract with a company that handles off site backup storage/archiving including penalty clausules for data loss or data leaks is a muc

    • as far as I know anyways. Encryption is going to be just as safe for 99% of the world as having it sit on some hard drive within their control.

      But that's beside the point. The vast majority of people don't have interesting data. The family photo album or the mp3 collection just doesn't matter to anyone but me most of the time. One person's treasure is another person's trash.

      Or hell, let us be honest - most people browser the internet using IE. Most people are NOT worried about security. If you are worried a
      • Everyone has interesting data. Most of my e-mails could be considered "boring", but they're interesting enough for Google to search through them to generate ad keywords so they can show ads at me.

        An MP3 collection leads to "buy this type of music!" ads. Photo albums (with tags) lead to "Go to this place!" ads. There's a lot that can be found out from your files, even if you think they're uninteresting.
    • I have about 20 GB of photos that I'd like to backup. Nobody really cares about them except for me and a few family members. None of them are private. They have value to nobody but me.

      But they have a great deal of value to me. They could be on a public server and it wouldn't matter. They just need to be available to me.

      Security isn't always about keeping other people out.

    • by asuffield (111848) <asuffield@suffields.me.uk> on Friday June 23, 2006 @02:34AM (#15587771)
      Anyone who takes thier data seriously would never think of doing such a thing. You have no idea what happens when your files get copied to some third party network.

      I can't really say that I care what happens to my heavily encrypted data while it's on some third party network. If they can't give it back to me in identical form, they don't get paid any more, and they aren't the only place where I store it.

      Not seeing your point.
  • GDrive (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ironring2006 (968941) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:44PM (#15587206)
    So I started trying to read through all the 17 different ones they reviewed, but when I saw such small numbers as 50MB and actual dollar $igns, all I could think of was the Gmail space [mozilla.org] extension for Firefox. 2GB and growing storage in a single gmail account. Also, it's not like those that have gmail accounts don't have extra invites laying around. Mind you, it isn't quite as elegant a solution as some of these offerings, but the price is right and the storage space is always growing (to infinity + 1!!!! [elliottback.com]).

    I know a lot of people that use their webmail accounts in this manner (yahoo, hotmail, etc) where if they think they need to be access a file somewhere else, they'll just e-mail it to themselves in an attachment. In all honesty though, the adoption rate for something like this for home personal users isn't going to ramp up until the average upload speeds of a home connection increases. Especially for large files, too many Joe Computer users are going to think their computer froze just because it's taking so long to upload their files.

    • Re:GDrive (Score:3, Insightful)

      by OverlordQ (264228)
      Gmail Drive is good if you dont mind it being slow, unreliable, and having the possiblity to completely fail at any given moment. Much less Google locking you out if they decide they dont like people using Gmail as a file backup.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:46PM (#15587211)
    What?! No review of Gmail Filesystem [jones.name]?

    • Exactly. One of the cheapest, albeit, if you are worried about privacy, it might be less than ideal. No I don't know for a fact, but rumour has it they go through your mail.

      On the other hand, why not get a cheap hosting plan that offers shell access. Park your, properly encrypted, of course, files there. If you use Linux/*BSD most desktop file managers allow seamless SFTP access to remote places. If you are a Windows user "SftpDrive" is your friend, gives your $HOME a letter under windows. Pretty much guara
  • by sleeplessmind (984416) on Thursday June 22, 2006 @11:50PM (#15587224)
    about five years ago a friend turned me to streamload for file sharing. I tried it out and didn't like the fact that i had to get people to send the files to me through unaffiliated forums, so I quit. However a year later, I was going to Australia for an unknown amount of time, but i couldn't Bing my HD. I turned to streamload once again but this time for file hosting. Now I use it for file sharing, and back-ups when I need to (currently in Japan, so it helped a lot.) Their new service is a little buggy still but over all Streamload is the way i would go. It is cheap as follows:

    - Basic Account - $4.95/month or $44.95/year - Unlimited Storage
    Download Up to 2 GB/mo.

    - Standard Account $9.95/month or $99.95/year - Unlimited Storage
    Download Up to 25 GB/mo.

    and it goes all the way up too:

    Premium Account $39.95/month or $399.95/year - Unlimited Storage
    Download Up to 100 GB/mo.



    Or even terrabytes for businesses (a state university in America, I believe, Uses a fair percentage of streamload)
    http://streamload.com/ [streamload.com]
    Stremaload also allows you to host files for people that do not have Streamload accounts. The downloads are cheap and the uploads are quick. (By the way. My streamload account has more then 40 terrabytes of things that i can download.)
  • That's why I just use http://www.dropload.com/ [dropload.com] when I want to move big files around.
  • I can't believe that while the headlines are filling with reports of spilled personal ID data, PC World would even consider recommending any distributed data service that doesn't encrypt your data locally before sending it over the network for storage. Instead, they include the weak "Be sure to encrypt all files holding personal data", when of course that's the first feature that every service should automate. PC World influences millions of naive PC users around the world, and flipping off security like th
    • Re:In the Clear (Score:3, Informative)

      by cheezedawg (413482)
      Mozy encrypts all data locally using a 448-bit Blowfish cipher before uploading. You can chose your own private key when installing the software- even the free accounts.
  • by kaisyain (15013) on Friday June 23, 2006 @12:37AM (#15587374)
    Unfortunate that the review doesn't mention S3 or JungleDisk as those are excellent options for these same things and are much cheaper for most uses than e.g. GoDaddy. Their open source clients do lots of nice caching and encrypting as well.
  • The biggest problem (aside from upstream bandwidth, which isn't something they can necessarily do anything about) is obviously price. I know lots and lots of people who've looked at this kind of storage for backup, but invariably just go to using hard drives with USB enclosures because they are thousands of dollars less than it would cost to use even the cheapest of these services for more than a few dozen gigabytes of data.

    Looking through the features, I think I see why they all cost so much -- they all of
    • you haven't looked very hard have you?

      http://www.fsnhosting.com/backups.php [fsnhosting.com]

      I sell exactly what you're looking for =)
      • I sell exactly what you're looking for =)

        I don't see anything like what I was talking about. Your offsite backup is a live RAID5 array that costs $150/month (which, I'll grant you is a MUCH less expensive option than the ones in the article, and I'll certainly direct some customers towards a service like yours).

        I'm talking about something more along the lines of selling a high capacity tape archive for 200-300% of the media cost, and then the tape goes into your vault until the customer requests a restore (
  • by shoolz (752000) on Friday June 23, 2006 @01:02AM (#15587478) Homepage
    Why are we discussing the merits of 17 different online storage services when you can host your own for pennies? Mine is a PII 75Mhz that I bought for $25 and it's sitting 3 feet away from me.
    • The only reason I would want online backup is to protect against theft, fire, multiple hardware failure, or other disasters. Being three feet away isn't quite far enough.

      I am surprised by how high the prices on these services are. I just checked my Dreamhost account, and I now have over 25 gigs available for $10/month. I had no idea it had grown so much since I last checked.
    • by cgenman (325138) on Friday June 23, 2006 @02:18AM (#15587728) Homepage
      A friend of mine was dilligent about backing up all of her data. She kept a comptuer and USB drive. She never left the USB drive plugged in, in case a faulty power supply sent a spike down the line. She dilligently backed everything up every week. She followed all of the prescriptions.

      Then someone broke into her apartment and stole both her computer and the USB drive sitting next to it.

      I often think of that, when I think of the backup hard drive I keep in my computer case.
    • I backup with friends and colleagues. Peer to peer backups cost only bandwidth an some diskspace, which you share in return. Files are encrypted of course.
  • by Animats (122034) on Friday June 23, 2006 @01:43AM (#15587623) Homepage

    Well, let's see what they commit to contractually:

    • Ibackup Pro Softnet makes no representation or warranty ... (C) that the data and files you store in your account will not be lost or damaged.
    • XDrive Xdrive, in its sole discretion, may terminate your password, account or use of the Service and remove and discard any Data within the Service if you fail to comply with this Agreement. ... XDrive makes no representation, warranty, or guaranty as to the reliablity, timeliness, quality, suitability, truth, availability, accuracy or completeness of the service or any content.
    • FirstBackup Subscriber does not desire this Agreement to provide liability for loss or damage due directly or indirectly to occurrences, or consequences there from, which the service is designed to deter or avert. If subscriber desires additional liability coverage, it shall be the subscriber's sole responsibility to secure it from an insurance carrier or other agency of subscriber's choice, at subscriber's own expense. Subscriber shall bring no suit against FB as a result of any loss arising from this Agreement.
    • Acpana The software product and all services are provided "as is" without any warranty or condition of any kind, either expressed or implied. Use of the software product and all services is at end user's own risk
    • ElephantDrive The company's aggregate liability, and the aggregate liability of its licensors, to you or any third parties in any circumstances is limited to $100.
    • Mozy You understand and agree that ... you will be solely responsible for any damages to your computer system or loss of data

    So, even though some of these outfits make advertising claims like "IT NEVER FORGETS ElephantDrive uses military-grade encryption and large scale disaster recovery techniques so your data is stored safely for as long as you keep your account.", they don't stand behind those claims. It would thus be inappropriate to trust any of them with important data.

    • they don't stand behind those claims. It would thus be inappropriate to trust any of them with important data.

      There are varying degrees of important. Really important data should be redundantly protected at dozens of remote call centers on multiple continents linked by non-internet direct lines, all under your control. Slightly less important data can be protected under the wing of a large outsourcing corporation like IBM, with the guarantees and penalties you mention spelled out in detail, at the cost of
      • Well... I think that as backup goes, these systems basically suck (too expensive and slow). As a business proposition - I am thinking about it.

        My price per gigabyte has just gone down. I am paying $109 CDN ($125.35 CDN after tax) for a 250GB drive (that's "decimal" based GB). Which is 50 cents (CDN) per GB. Translating to US, its 45 cents US per GB.

        The drives have a manufacturing guarantee of 3 years, so my GB price per year is 15 cents. (Of course I don't rely on the drive to last - but I will get it repla
      • Like any consumer grade service it comes with nothing more than a gentleman's guarantee.

        Compare the warranty on your car.

    • What kind of waranty do you think you get from any hard drive manufacturer or OS vendor?? It's pretty much the same deal IIRC.
  • Please check out FolderShare (www.foldershare.com). All you need is to have a computer on-line somewhere, and you can easily set up syncing with your computer anywhere. Pretty nifty. I use it for backups of my computers. I have one computer at work, and two computers that share the same folders at home. No longer need for backup.
  • Strongspace (Score:2, Informative)

    by sun10384 (127920)
    I personally use Strongspace [strongspace.com]. Its a secure file storage solution which is accessible with a web interface or sftp and even rsync. Since the storage is built upon ZFS, it allows for some nifty tricks as multiple backups and even revisions. And did I mention that they use GiB? I mean, that has to be turn on for you folks. Here is a list of plans [strongspace.com] on offer, how you can put it to good use [strongspace.com] and some FAQs [strongspace.com]. Check it out!
  • If it's the security of offsite storage you want, there is a better solution.

    Join up with a friend and each get a hard drive with a caddy (a slide in tray which holds the drive, making for easy removal). Make them the same type of HD (and caddy, of course). Now you can each backup up your critical data onto the caddy drive and swap them. Next day/week/month backup onto the drive and swap again etc, etc. If you don't meet at work or very regularly, look at it as a good excuse to get together for a beer!
  • It's only on Windows, but at work we use Connected TLM [connected.com].
    It's fantastic.
  • by arafel (15551) * on Friday June 23, 2006 @06:36AM (#15588373)
    I'm amazed nobody's mentioned rsync.net [rsync.net] so far, particularly on Slashdot. Cheap storage, access via rsync, instructions for mounting it remotely on Linux/FreeBSD (as well as Windows), plus they've given some thought [rsync.net] to both the legal and privacy aspects: "rsync.net does not merely recommend that users encrypt their data, but provides resources, tutorials and unlimited technical support for such usage".
    • I'm quite happy with raidarray.net [slashdot.org], which I've been using for the past year. Their offer is very affordable (100$ for 25 Gb a year long) and it has all the Unix bells and whistles you need (rsync, ftp, etc). They also have a very helpful support team who helped me out with a sticky rsync-problem.

      Oh and for backup software I use Rdiff-backup [nongnu.org], which is able to make reverse incremental backups.

      • by StanS (31710) *
        This service does look fantastic for the price. They offer 50GB for $15/month and unlimited transfers with samba/nfs/sftp/ftp/rsync support, which is much better than the services reviewed in the article.

        Unfortunetly when you go to sign up you get: "Ordering is closed temporarily. It will return in 1 weeks time." To bad, I for one will check back in a week to see if it's up. It almost seems to good to be true, I tried doing a couple of google searches on it and came up with essentially nothing. Anybody
    • I am not surprised that the article did not have rsync.net in the comparison, since their candidates were pretty consumer-grade.

      But rsync.net is going to become known as _the_ choice for unix/sysadmin folks (and the generally clueful).

      They are the only ones that offer advanced backup and encryption services such as duplicity and rdiff-backup support, in addition to their basic protocols such as rsync, Unison, WebDAV.

      Also, and this is huge, they are the ONLY offsite backup provider with geographical redundan
    • Their warrant canary [rsync.net] is sheer genius. I love these guys!
  • I mean, nobody reads TFA anyway, but if the shill^Wposter puts the summary of the article in the Slashdot submission, why would we even read the article?
  • Here's a useless trick for free online backups I used to pull when doing fresh installs back in the late 80s/early 90s..

    I would get myself one of the ubiquitous AOL trial diskettes. (I'm dating myself referring to diskettes, but it's OK, I'm a cheap date.) I'd sign up for the freebie, and use the five screen names they'd give you to email myself zip files of everything important. I think the mailbox limit was two megs or five megs or something per screenname, but that was okay since I was mostly backing
  • by Kjella (173770) on Friday June 23, 2006 @09:41AM (#15589061) Homepage
    ...that'll let my group of friends create our own back-up service? I could easily gather up half a dozen ADSL 24/7 users who would be willing to donate 5GB of space for 1GB 5xMirrored. It'd be a gentlemen's agreement, not a SLA and they could of course block/delete it at any time, but then you've made a poor choice of friends. With a swarm download (getting a few blocks from each friend) speeds should be good even with the low upload. Back-up services are a bit too much like insurance companies - they compete really hard to give you the lowest price - but then they're also a bitch to get money out of. I'd much rather have a bunch of friends I could call up and say "hey, I just had a disk crash so I hope you don't mind that I leech 24/7 for a little while."
  • Free Alternatives (Score:3, Informative)

    by ThinkFr33ly (902481) on Friday June 23, 2006 @10:14AM (#15589242)
    As others have point out, they're missing a number of free alternatives.

    The one I use is RoamDrive [roamdrive.com]. It's free, it no longer has ads (it used to have a banner at the bottom), and it works with Gmail or Hotmail.

    They've been promising a pro version that lets you link an unlimited number of gmail and hotmail accounts for a virtually unlimited amount of free storage, but it's been over a year and nothing has been released yet.

    Still, the free version works really well. No limitations on file names or types, it automatically compresses files when necessary, and the only limitation for how much you can store is how much free space you have on the e-mail account in question.
  • From the article:

    Most of the fee-based services I evaluated cancel automatically at the end of the trial period, but XDrive rolls over to the pay plan without bothering to ask for your permission first.

    Not only that, but XDrive ignored my emails requesting that my account be cancelled. There are better places to do business with.
  • Carbonite (Score:3, Interesting)

    by CopaceticOpus (965603) on Friday June 23, 2006 @10:59AM (#15589527)
    I'm surprised that there is no mention of Carbonite [carbonite.com]. In terms of $/GB it blows everything else away. I've been using it for a little over a month now, and here's my findings:

    Pros

    1. $5/month for virtually unlimited storage. Seriously!
    2. Works without much thought on your part required.
    3. Doesn't overwhelm internet connection

    Cons

    1. Requires Windows.
    2. A bit too automated. The geek in you will want for options.
    3. Initial backup can take a long time.

    Carbonite does a slow-trickle upload of my chosen files and directories when the computer isn't in use. I've uploaded over 50GB in about 4 weeks. I still keep local backups of everything, but it's great to have an offsite option for so cheap.

  • I looked into GoDaddy's FIleFolder last year when I renewed my domain, but I decided against it when I learned there was no easy way to access it for linux file backup (I was thinking via Samba/WFS, maybe NFS, or FTP if desperate). I saw one on the site that had FTP. Anyone know of a decent one that supports something more secure like Samba of SFTP?

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