Backing up data is a hassle. Rather than purchase an external hard drive, you can manage your backups via the Web. These eight services are worth considering if you worry about the security and protection of your data.
Most of these tools offers mobile-device access so your iPhone or Android-powered device can connect and access these documents. Another great feature offered by online backup services is a version service, which shows you iterations of your documents or folders allowing you an easy way to restore a file to a previous version.
Dropbox is a service I have used for years. Mostly for sharing large files when I cannot e-mail them easily, but just as often for storing important files and folders. It works great as a collaborative sharing service, too, which means you can upload photos or videos or documents and share them with employees or fellow business owners. They offer a free plan with up to two gigabytes of storage, then $9.99 for 50 gigabytes of storage.
Box.net is another popular backup service that offers a larger five gigabyte free plan. Box.net's first paid tier on the personal plan is $9.99 per month for 25 gigabytes. You can also get a business plan which is $15 per month, with a three-user minimum.
Carbonite is another great backup service that charges by an annual fee versus by the computer or by the gigabyte. Business plans start at $229 per year year.
Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service)
Just about everyone on the planet has heard of Amazon, but many small business owners have not heard of the various Amazon Web services that can help you develop applications, or store data, video, audio or just about any filetype. The service is aimed at developers, but any Amazon customer can take advantage of it. The service takes some technical know-how, but most business owners can easily configure it. Storage starts at 14 cents per gigabyte. That’s $7 a month for 50 gigabytes.
Jungle Disk starts at $2 per month for personal use with five gigabytes free. Business plans are just $4 per month.
Elephant Drive runs on Amazon and offers a plan that would work well for a home-based business starting at $9.95 a month for up to 100 gigabytes.
Pogoplug is unique in that there is a Web-based online storage plan, but there is also a terrific physical device that will allow you to place your own external hard drive online for easy and secure access while you’re traveling or working remotely on a daily basis. Rather than have to back everything up to the cloud, you can connect your drive to the Web directly. There's a free app, then a premium app for a one-time fee of $29. If you want the physical device, it starts at $99.
IBackup is an interesting and customer-friendly backup service. If you have a large amount of data (100 gigabytes or more), iBackup will send you an external hard drive to back up all your data and then the company uploads it for you. Plans start at $9.95 per month for 50 gigabytes.
With these services, it is possible to create a data recovery plan that doesn’t cost much in terms of time or money. Plus, it allows you to do what most experts recommend: back up your core data in a location other than your primary physical business location. If these don’t work, you could always consider an indestructible external hard drive from ioSafe.
If you want additional reasons why you should consider the cloud, read Jennifer Van Grove’s post on 5 Reasons to Use the Cloud for FileManagement.