Data loss. It’s any computer user’s nightmare, and it can be devastating. Once upon a time, of course, computer backup was simple, but in a world where everything is done digitally, backing up your system can quickly become a nightmare. Here are 8 different programs and services, using a variety of storage options, which you can use to backup your system.
1. Your OS
Whether you’re a Mac or a PC user, your operating system comes with pre-installed backup software. For Windows it’s called Backup and Restore. On Mac OSX, it’s called Time Machine. The upside of these options is that they come with your computer. They’re both relatively easy to use, and you can get help through the Microsoft and Apple websites respectively. The downside is that they require you to purchase an external hard drive separately, which can get pricy.
Probably the most popular remote backup system is Mozy.com. Mozy is a pay-to-use service that stores all your data on their servers. It costs $4.95 minimum per month, depending on which plan you purchase. The benefit of storing your files remotely is that, in the event that something happens to both your computer and your external HD (such as theft or a power surge), you can still access your files. It also can be cheaper than some hard drives.
SyncBack, from 2BrightSparks Software, is one of the best backup programs for PC, with recommendations from a number of tech reviewers. It costs $30 for the basic version. SyncBack does require you to purchase an external hard drive; however, it comes loaded with a variety of other functions, including synchronization between multiple PCs and automatic backup.
Technically, Dropbox is a program which allows you to transfer individual files between computers and access them from anywhere. However, many people use it as a remote backup program. It’s free to use (you can buy more storage space), fairly inobtrusive, and it’s easy to acquire more space by inviting friends. It’s not the best solution for mass storage, but if you have small-scale needs (3GB or less) it’s a great option.
SuperDuper is a Mac-only program designed to supplement Time Machine. You pay a one-time cost to download the program, and then have free access for as long as the program is installed. It doesn’t provide remote access — you need to purchase an external drive. But like SyncBack, it provides other options — such as automation and easy back-up installation — which you won’t get with the basic Time Machine program.
Carbonite is a remote backup subscription service. It’s designed to automatically back up files as they are added or changed; it functions by continually searching for files with a recent date stamp and then uploading them to the server. It’s comparable in cost to other remote backup programs, but rather than a monthly subscription you buy the service for a year.
7. Acronis True Image
True Image is a PC-only backup program with a one-time cost of $50. This is one of the most adaptable programs on the list. It facilitates both local and remote storage, with a user-friendly interface that allows you to pick and choose what you want to back up and where. It also has a spate of other features to help you automate and manage your system, as well as intuitively simple restore options.
The free version of CrashPlan has two main features: it facilitates local backup to your external hard drive, and allows you to remotely backup your drive on a friend’s computer, if the friend also uses CrashPlan. It’s an interesting approach to remote storage. Of course, you have to have a friend who’s willing to host your files for you. The pay-to-use service is similar to the other remote backup programs on this list, in both functionality and cost.