July 30, 2012, 11:21 AM — You can lose your valuable data in plenty of ways, including hard-drive failure, theft (laptops are particularly vulnerable), and catastrophe (fire, extreme weather, earthquake). Although the cloud cant rebuild your home or office after a disaster, it can provide a safe haven for your files.
Having a mirror image of your entire Windows environment (the operating system, all of your programs, and your data files) is great if something goes terribly wrong, and Carbonite will build such an image for you if you subscribe to its HomePlus ($99 per year) or HomePremier ($149 per year) plan and provide an external drive. Once you have that image, we recommend storing the drive offsite (with a friend or in a safe deposit box). Carbonite also offers an opÂÂtional courier service with its HomePremier plan, enabling you to store your backups on an external drive at Carbonites location (shipping charges apply). If youd rather stick to a more basic backup arrangement, Carbonite has a $59-per-year Home plan too.
The services tight integration with Windows is our favorite feature. For example, you can right-click any file on your machine and instruct Carbonite to back it up straightaway. We also like having the ability to instruct Carbonite to take a nap during specific hours, to prevent it from hogging the Internet connection at peak times. And all three Carbonite plans include unlimited storage.
Of the three online backup services we examined for this article, CrashPlan is the only one that provides a genuinely useful free account (most users will find Mozys 2GB of free backup space to be inadequate). Theres a catch to CrashPlans free offering, though: You must find family members or friends who are willing to host your backups on their computers (CrashPlan allows you to back up to multiple destinations, including a local NAS device).
CrashPlan supports more operating systems than most other service providers do, including Windows, Mac, Linux, and even Solaris. Paid service plans, which let you back up to CrashPlans servers, cost $25 per year for up to 10GB of backup storage and $50 per year for unlimited backups.