Hard drives aren't forever. That's why backing up your digital data is critical. Unfortunately, far too many people take the less than satisfactory approach of doing so by simply burning copies of their digital files to DVD and calling it good. This is better than nothing, and is actually one of several steps that's suggested by the 3-2-1 rule – but if you really want to ensure your family photographs, media files and important documents are safe, no better way exists than to migrate to the cloud.
In ever-increasing numbers, people (as well as a huge number of business ranging from Mom and Pop shops to international corporations) are flocking to online data backup solutions as a way of staving off catastrophe. Some of the best online backup services – like Carbonite, IDrive and CrashPlan – differentiate themselves by offering a lot more than mere cloud storage space. In most cases you'll get a well-rounded service that brings with it convenient features like mobile smartphone access and the ability to schedule backups to run automatically so you don't have to constantly remind yourself. To learn more, check out our articles on online backup services.
There is no shortage of cloud backup solutions out there. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. With so much choice, you might be tempted to just go with the service that costs the least out of pocket. Instead of doing that, pay attention to some of the important performance criteria that should inform your decision. Here are the ones we think are crucial to look for when seeking out the best cloud backup for your needs.
Backup & Restore Features
One of the first things you'll want to look at is the amount of online storage you can secure with a single account. There are many cloud backup solutions that offer truly unlimited capacity, but not all do. Additionally, it's important to examine all of the various account management features provided. Automatic backup, for example, scans your computer and uploads files to the cloud automatically. Continuous backup makes sure that every time you update a file that's already stored to the cloud, that file is updated immediately. Incremental backup is another important feature to look for, because it identifies files that have changed and backs up only them, saving a lot of bandwidth and time in the process.
Additionally, you may find it valuable to pick a service that gives you control over how much bandwidth you consume while you're uploading your data to the cloud. Bonus features like deleted file recovery and file versioning, which gives you the power to revert to a previously saved copy of a file, can also come in handy.
Transferring your private data via the internet and storing it online comes with a certain amount of risk. For this reason, it's important that you find an online data backup service that employs state-of-the-art encryption to keep your files safe in transit as well as when they're at rest. Access to all accounts should be password protected, and you should be given the ability to set a personal encryption key that only you will have access to. The security measures taken at the actual data centers where files are stored is important. The best cloud backup companies have data centers that are protected with 24/7 security. Geo-redundant storage is also important. This means that the company has more than one data center and that duplicates of your files are stored in multiple locations to safeguard against risks like fires or natural disasters. Remote wipe is another feature that can serve to keep your data from falling into the wrong hands if your computer is stolen.
Most online backup services have smartphone apps that you can use to access your stored data from remote locations. The best online backup services offer apps for a wide variety of different operating systems – the most common being Android, iOS and Windows Phone. While most apps enable you to access your files remotely and securely, still others come with the ability to back up data from your mobile device. Look for online backup providers that offer a versatile mobile experience.
Help & Support
Getting help and finding quick answers to your questions is important, especially with a service like cloud backup where you'll be manning the controls from the start. A good online computer backup service will offer you a diversity of choice when it comes to seeking out help – including phone support, live chat support, email support, FAQs, tutorials and an online knowledgebase with a wealth of information that you can access at any time.
Considering the fact that computer failures happen every day, the likelihood is high that at some point you may benefit from a cloud backup solution that will keep your important files untouched in the event of catastrophic loss. Check out our lineup of the best online backup services available – and then get your backup on, ASAP.