Online Backup Service – Comparison

For those people spending a lot of time behind a laptop or desktop PC, some safe backup storage becomes very important. Until a few few weeks ago, I created every night an incremental backup for my files and stored this data on a USB connected hard-disk. While the HD was shock-proof (FreeCom), my motherboard was much weaker. It seems that the motherboard died during the daily backup was processed. Why? Because my hard-disk wasn’t accessible the next day. My backup seems to be worthless and I was very happy that a replacement of the motherboard was the rescue for my data.

Everyone will understand my next step: I started my search for a better backup solution!

Are online backup services the best solution?

Since my laptop has the Ubuntu operating system, I gave Ubuntu One a try. They offer 2GB of free backup space and since Ubuntu version 9.10 you need only to register an online account. That sounds easy right? Just put your backup data into the Ubuntu One directory and wait until the demon has uploaded all files. They offer great features too; synchronization between multiple PCs, sharing files with trusted contacts and there is  a web browser interface. They offer also a paid plan; 50GB storage for $10/month. Not so much actually, but maybe to much for a beta service. In my case Ubuntu One wasn’t the best solution for me. Uploading files took a lot of time and the demon/client needs a restart frequently.

Important: You need to trust your backup service provider!

There are more professional online backup services

There are many companies offering these services and they offering different packages for different needs. Since the synchronization features are very nice (think about how easy you can restore your data to a new computer) I searched  for services offering this features. A second requirement were multi-platform capabilities. The last one is very important because you never know where you need to work with your data. Maybe you need to switch from Linux to Windows or Mac. We tried the following 3 services, all of them offer 2GB of free backup space. So if you like, you can try them all for free.

Mozy – Home Edition

Mozy Online Backup ServiceThey offer unlimited space for a low monthly price: $4.95 (discounts for yearly payments are also available). Sounds great? It is, for Windows and Mac user. They backup after the first full backup only changed/new files and it’s easy to restore your data if you need that. A Mozy backup is a great “mirror” for your data, but doesn’t offer synchronization features for multiple computers. Mozy is a great solution if you have a lot of data (for example photos) and you need “only” a secure backup solution.


I’m sure most of you already know Dropbox, they offer all you need: online back, synchronization and file sharing. First 2GB of space are free and 50GB of backup space are only $9.99 a month. Check these features:

  • File Sync
    • Sync files of any size or type.
    • Sync Windows, Mac and Linux computers.
    • Automatically syncs when new files or changes are detected.
    • Efficient sync – only the pieces of a file that changed (not the whole file) are synced.
  • File Sharing
    • Shared folders allow several people to collaborate on a set of files.
    • A “Public” folder that lets you link directly to files in your Dropbox.
    • Control who is able to access shared folders.
    • Automatically create shareable online photo galleries from folders of photos in your Dropbox.
  • Online Backup
    • Automatic backup of your files.
    • Undelete files and folders.
    • Restore previous versions of your files.
    • 30 days of undo history, with unlimited undo available as a paid option.

Dropbox is a great backup service for Windows, Linux and Mac users with a lot of features. They have also a great referral system, if you refer friends you get free backup space for your (free) account. Special is also that you’re able to share single files with other people, even if they are not a Dropbox user.


The features for SpiderOak are almost the same compared to Dropbox, but their paid plan is much cheaper, only $10 / month for 100GB of backup space (discounts for yearly payments are also available). The service looks more safe, Encrypted (FAST) data transport and fully encrypted data storage. The company looks more professional to me, but this is only my personal opinion as an open source fanatic. They don’t offer single file sharing, but they offer file sharing functions for directories. There is one killer feature which Dropbox doesn’t have: Using Spideroak you’re able to backup/sync every directory from you hard-disk, while Dropbox has only one directory which is used for the backups.

Do you use Google Apps for your e-mail, calendar and online documents? Maybe you our new article about Spanning Backup for Google Apps, a backup service in the cloud. With Google Drive it’s possible to sync your files, too.

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  1. I use both Dropbox and Mozy, but for different purposes. Mozy helps me sleep at night by handling my backup chores, while Dropbox works great as a file sharing hub for my classroom. I trust Mozy more with my data because it’s owned by EMC, and all data is encrypted before they’re transferred.

    1. hello Tom,

      Right Mozy looks really good I think it’s the first choice if you need a pure backup service. Btw. the other services encrypt the data too. Check the information provided by SpiderOak.

  2. I use SafeCopy online backup for all my backups and it is really good for me because i can use one account for all my three Computers and with all the three computers i only pay 50bucks per year for 150GB storage and this is cheaper than other backup systems where one pays for each computer.They also offer a free unlimited 3GB trial version.

    1. Hi Britti,

      thanks for sharing. SafeCopy looks really good as backup solution (Win & Mac only).
      Don’t forget that Dropbox and SpiderOak are able to synchronize the data between multiple computers.

  3. I agree with tom on this one. While dropbox is very handy on multiple computers. Mosy is differently the leader. idrive is ok, but the software is too buggy.

    Great review.


  4. Just found some promotional coupon code for Mozy backup:

    Save 10% and get up to 3 months free by using the promo code AUGUST

    This coupon is valid until 31-august 2010.

    1. You’re right Dropbox is maybe the most powerful online backup solution. Keep in touch an read my update very soon :)

  5. Mozy is overpriced. I go with SecurusVault. Based in Canada and stored in Switzerland. More secure and much more affordable.

  6. I now hate Mozy since they banished the unlimited backup plan and now i have opted to use Safecopy backup.I think it suits my backup needs.

  7. Dropbox is so cool and so great and on the other hand,i also tried out Safecopy backup and wow it is also cool.

  8. I’ve been using mozy for several years now and really like it. It’s very simple to configure, backs up automatically, and is free. It’s all I need from an online backup service.

  9. I think SpiderOak works better too.And the fact remains that everyone has an online backup service that works better for him or her.

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