A Roundup of Free Online Backup Services

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Online backup services allow end users to manage their data online, by having the ability to transfer and store files between a backup server and computer. Online backup has become increasingly common over the years, and is set to rise as we grow to depend more on the cloud.
 
Online backup is more than just backup; it’s a data management tool in its own right allowing you to synchronise data on all your devices, allowing you to start a project on one computer and then resume on another without having to copy files across manually.
 
This is particularly attractive for mobile workers who work off laptops, who want to keep their data safe while on the move, it is also very useful for users who have multiple computers who need to access their files from all devices. 
There are numerous free backup options available that provide ample space to backup your important files.
 
 
SugarSync offers 5GB of free storage, and has good support for Mac, PC, iOS and blackberry. Free storage space is expandable to a maximum of 10GB, earning 500MB each time you refer your friends. SugarSync keeps 5 version histories of your files, so if you need to refer back to a previous version it’s possible to do so, although the process isn’t always easy. SugarSync works automatically, after you save any file it is uploaded onto the SugaySync backup server, the free account supports synchronisation across unlimited number of computers.
 
 
Mozy is one of the most popular backup providers, and offers 2GB free accounts.  While it’s not a lot, Mozy is easy to use and leaves little footprint on your computer resources, so it’s ideal for netbooks. The bandwidth throttling feature makes sure that it doesn’t hog your internet connection. Mozy supports both PC and Mac, but does not have automatic synchronization abilities. 
 
 
Dropbox is popular amongst computer enthusiasts due to its support for Linux, which not a lot of services cater for. In addition to Linux support, Dropbox has other cool features, like the ability to use private truecrypt keys and the ability to right click and upload web files into your Dropbox using the Cloud Save Chrome app. 
 
Like SugarSync, Dropbox also supports unlimited computers on its free account and you can synchronise the data between your computers using it. The drawback is that Dropbox starts at 2GB free storage to begin with, but you can upgrade to 8GB free storage by referring friends to the service.
 
Windows Live Mesh & Skydrive (http://explore.live.com/)
 
Mesh allows you to synchronise your files between your Windows PCs, it also allows you to sync your Internet Explorer favourites and MS Office settings. The downside is that WL Mesh is only compatible with Microsoft products, which rules out cross platform synchronisation.
 
Mesh is not a backup service, but simply a synchronisation service; it uses 5GB of the total 25GB data allowance from Skydrive. Skydrive is a less flexible browser based storage service, but you can use a third part app called SDExplorer to use Skydrive as a drive on your computer.
 
 
Opendrive is the least well known backup service out of the bunch, but based on my tests it performs just as well as the other services like SugarSync and Dropbox. It allows full synchronisation between unlimited PCs on the 5GB free account. It has a 100mb limitation on file size which can be restrictive if you have any large video clips you want to backup.
Additionally it places a watermark branding on any images you share with the public. But transfer speed is fast and is perfectly suited for storing documents.
 
Conclusion
 
While online backup is convenient and easy to use, it shouldn’t be a substitute for proper local backup solutions. Taking regular image backups of your system onto external drives is the only method which you can put faith on, as it allows you to create archives of your data on disk, which is in contrast to online backup which use regular hard drive to store data.
Clonezilla (http://clonezilla.org/) is an excellent freeware imaging solution, and should be used alongside online backup. That way you have an image state that you can use to restore your computer back to a fully working state, and an online backup to restore your most recent backup.
 
By Abdul Karim, webmaster of online backup services (http://www.onlinebackupservices.co)
 
 

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