Tech Talk: Online Backups


This week’s featured post series is about technology that Hoboken residents may be using or in the planning stages. Share tips and tricks with each other to make an informed decision… so what is on tap for today?

Online Backups – getting mainstream!

With hard drives getting bigger, faster and cheaper – along with the speed of our internet connections – managing the massive pile of files you’ve (legally) downloaded is no easy task.

What do you do if your computer crashes or gets destroyed in some fashion? Are you prepared in case disaster strikes?

In the past, backing up to CD, DVD or external hard drives might have been your best and only option – but thanks to the high-speed internet we all (hopefully) have – your options just got better.

Carbonite, Mozy and BackBlaze

There are many online backup options out there now.. all at around $5 a month or $50 a year.

You’ve all seen commercials for Carbonite and Mozy – claiming to be easy, painless and automatic. There are even a ton of reviews out there comparing the two.

It got a bit confusing to me, after reading all the pros and cons, new players and more – until I stumbled upon BackBlaze.

BackBlaze is similar to Carbonite and Mozy except that they offer automatic backups of your external drives as well. The interface is simple, and you can choose how much bandwidth to give the program as it backs up the files – and even when it backs up. $5 a month – or two cups of coffee – is so worth it!

And what really impressed me with the BackBlaze corporation was – that they were so proud of their inexpensive storage solution, that they shared the technology with the world. Call it “open source” if you must. Incredible how much cheaper you can create your own storage, compared with the over-priced giants like EMC.

You still need to be cautious!

No matter what online backup solution you choose – you still need to exercise caution when dealing with your data. In my case, BackBlaze only backs up your data files – not your programs, not your operating system! So your treasured videos, songs and pictures may be safe – but not the rest of your system!

You may want to use a separate program (like Norton Ghost) to create an image file of your hard drive (or something that comes with your OS, like the Windows 7 backup – which is pretty good!) – and keep that backup somewhere safe as well.

You never know how much you take your computer for granted – until it breaks down.

Do you use an online backup? If so, which one? Why?

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3 Comments on "Tech Talk: Online Backups"

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rich k
rich k

It’s not as webby as Mozy, et al., but Mac OS’s Time Machine recently saved my neck when my iMac’s HD started behaving badly. Since I had a spare external drive, I re-booted from a system install DVD, and created an external boot drive that was as current as my most recent back up. Since Time Machine does background incremental back ups every hour, that was pretty damn recent. That allowed me to finish the work at hand, and put off dropping off the Mac for repair until it was convenient to me.
The HD was replaced, with the nice dividend of getting a bigger drive back, and the Mac was returned in two business days. I then use another built-in utility to clone that external drive back to the new internal drive, and was up and running with 400 GB of data, OS and Apps a few hours later.
For extra safety, you can archive TM backups onto another drive, and store it somewhere else. Best experience I’ve had, including Retrospect Enterprise and BRU.

A few points … – Generally CONSUMER backup services fall into 2 categories — unlimited plans (Mozy, Backblaze, Carbonite) or pay-per-gigabyte (SugarSync, iBackup, JungleDisk/Elephant Drive, – Nearly all the consumer services; including Mozy, Backblaze, and Carbonite; let you backup external USB Drives. So long as the drives are considered “fixed” it will back up. Consumer accounts do not, however, allow backup of network shares (i.e. mapped drives). – Mozy has a notoriously bad restore procedure ( The restore procedure needs to be followed closely to avoid file loss ( – Backblaze has a maximum SINGLE FILE size is 4 Gigabytes. For most people this is not a limitation, but if you have large DVD ISOs or other large media files its a problem. – Services based on’s S3 service are an interesting alternative (JungleDrive and ElephantDrive) because the S3 service is designed for read/write access, not just backup. You will pay for monthly storage (about $0.15/gig for the first 50TB) as well as transfer fees (about $.015/gig for first 10TB), but those prices are rapidly declining ( – CrashPlan is another interesting alternative. It has a number of backup models: to CrashPlan’s cloud (like Mozy), through a centralized office server (like in house corporate backup), and also to friends (where each friend donates space). – Backblaze did share their hardware design, which generated quite a buzz in technology circles. They did not share the corresponding software. – Comparing Backblazes’ 117k per Petabyte to the $2.8 million of EMC… Read more »

As a freelance designer, my livelihood is on my computer. I have to make sure I have access to my fonts, extensions and contracts at all times– especially after a system crash or any other disaster. I have two redundant local back-up drives in my office as well as off-site back-ups.
I’m on a Mac, and I used Mozy for a couple of years – when I finally needed to restore some data to a new computer I couldn’t even access my account online. It was beyond frustrating, it was like paying for really terrible insurance. Their customer service is *rotten* and the Mozy application really slowed my system down during uploads.
I tried a few other online back-up options, nothing met my expectations or needs until I found Sugar Sync: I loved that they let me start out with a free account, not just a free trial- but a real 2 GB account without entering my credit card. That alone, proved to me that they were confident in their service.
I loved the simplicity in their back-up application and how I didn’t even notice any lag at all when my back-ups were uploading. I can’t say enough about Sugar Sync, really- thank goodness they exist! 🙂