Losing a file is one of a reporter’s worst fears. Over the years, I have lost many, many files to Microsoft Word crashes and malfunctioning flash drives. Each time my file didn’t save properly, got corrupted or simply went missing, I freaked out. What I needed was a more foolproof file backup system than a flash drive + Dropbox + Google Drive. An online backup service fit the bill. But I wasn’t sure which service was right for me.
For the November issue of Money, I tested a number of options. I spotlighted four services for the magazine’s tech column. (Here’s the online version of the story.) CrashPlan was my pick for families, Carbonite for a person who prizes simplicity above all, Backblaze for a person with a ton of files and SpiderOak for a person who needs to share files with others.
As those categories indicate, CrashPlan is the most affordable option for three or more computers; Carbonite has a super-easy user interface; Backblaze offers fast uploads and downloads and SpiderOak can handle both file backup and file sharing (and syncing). These services have other standout features, as well. For example, SpiderOak is best known for its file encryption and data privacy practices.
If you’re interested in online backups, I would recommend doing a test run of several services. Most of these companies offer either free time-limited trials or a few free gigabytes. Different services vary widely in terms of their UI/UE, speed, customizability, backup frequency, pricing, encryption standards and the quality of their mobile apps, so it really is worth trying before you buy. If you tend to work on the same file and revise it frequently – like a reporter does – you’ll also want to check exactly how a service saves iterations of a file, a.k.a., file versioning.