One of the great advantages of the digital age is photos, videos, music and documents that don't degrade over time. Your digital family photo will look just as vibrant and colorful in a thousand years as it did when the photo was captured. The home videos will look just as crisp as they did when you hit record. The documents won't be withered and yellow with age. The same can't be said for non-digital media because the quality fades with time.
However, one of the disadvantages of the digital age is the ever-present threat of data loss. This can happen in many different ways. You could accidentally delete a file. You could spill coffee on your laptop. You could drop your laptop. A thief could make off with your laptop. Your computer could contract a malicious virus that wipes your hard drive. Your house could be damaged by a flood or fire. Even under ideal conditions, the hard drive that stores your important files will be lucky to last more than five years. The best hard drives rarely last longer than a decade. Regardless of how it happens, your hard drive will fail and your data will be lost if you don't back up the files.
Using an online data backup service ensures that your important photos, videos, music and documents are safe because the data is stored on a server in a location far away from whatever disaster caused your data loss. The best online backup services, Carbonite, IDrive and CrashPlan, provide comprehensive backup and restore tools while protecting your files with military-grade security features. To learn more, you can read articles about Online Data Backup Services in our learning center.
The most important characteristic to consider when looking for the best online backup service is the storage capacity included with the subscriptions. You want a plan that will give you the storage capacity to back up a lifetime worth of data, a plan that will grow with you through the years, a plan that won't limit or cap your usage. The best online backup services offer unlimited online backup storage.
After storage capacity, you'll want to consider the backup and restore features, safety protocols and mobile access. These features help you determine how reliable your backups are and how easy it will be to restore lost files. Below are the criteria we considered when comparing online data backup services.
Backup and Restore Features
After considering storage capacity, you should consider the maximum file size and the files archived. While most files are smaller than 1MB, high definition movies can be many gigabytes apiece. In addition, file archiving is important because it maintains older versions of a file, allowing you to reverse unwanted changes or errors made to a file. The best online data backup services don't place limits on these features, which means you can upload any file size and restore all past versions of a file.
You'll also want to consider the backup method. Incremental backups are preferred for the fast upload times and small backup sets. A continuous backup method backs up the files as soon as the files are saved, which makes the process easy. Other backup tools include external hard drive backup, file syncing with multiple devices, backup scheduler and bandwidth throttle controls. The more comprehensive the options, the more you have control over when and how your backups are saved.
The last feature we considered was the share options. This includes creating private share folders that allow you to collaborate remotely on documents with coworkers, fellow students or friends. The other share feature is public share or public linking, which allows you to share files or folders publically through a link or email attachment.
Your files should be encrypted for both the transfer and during storage to ensure that your files are protected if the servers are hacked. Without an encryption key, a hacker can't decrypt your files. In addition, the best online data backup services promise that you are the only one with access of the encryption key. Services that don't give you ownership of the encryption key can't promise that your files won't be subjected to third-party surveillance.
Other important security features include folder permissions, remote wipe and geo-redundant storage. Folder permissions allow you to customize who can edit or view files in a share folder. Remote wipe is a tool that allows you to delete files from a stolen computer. In addition, geo-redundant storage promises that your data is backed up to at least two servers located in different geographical locations. This protects your data from being lost in the event that one server location is damaged or destroyed by a natural or manmade disaster.
Being able to access your files at any given time is important to many people, especially if you need to edit a work file while you're on the bus or at a coffee shop. For this reason, the best online data backup services should offer mobile apps that allow you to sync your files to your phone or tablet. In addition, many services allow you to back up your phone, saving you from losing valuable contacts, photos, videos and text messages. These apps should be free to download with your subscription and should be available on the major mobile operating systems.
Help & Support
While many cloud backup services have streamlined the process to make backing up as simple as possible, it can still be a complicated process where many issues arise. If you experience any issues or problems with backing up data or restoring files, you should have the best support available to ensure that your photos, videos, music and documents are accessible and safe. For this reason, you should consider services with phone, live chat and email support. In addition, to help you resolve common issues and to learn various functions, the support should include a detailed FAQs page, tutorials and a user forum.
Your hard drive will fail. It's not a matter of "if," it's only a matter of "when." When it does fail, the hard drive will take all of your important files with it unless you copy the data to another device. Online data backup services are the best option to ensure that your files are always safe from data loss.
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