How to Choose an Online Storage Service - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell
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Backup: Mozy and Fabrik

The best backup services we know come from Mozy Inc. and Fabrik Inc. I’m lumping them together because they use the same client software, and offer the same basic features.

Mozy provides consumer (Mozy Home) and business (Mozy Pro) services. Fabrik Ultimate Backup is similar to the Mozy Home service. They’re cheap, secure and easy to use.

Both companies offer 2GB of free storage along with free downloadable client software. Mozy Home and Fabrik Ultimate Backup cost $5 a month for unlimited storage for one computer – less if you pay for a year or two years at a time. Mozy Pro is priced per desktop ($3.95) or server ($6.95) and per gigabyte ($0.50) per month.

As with other backup services, the Mozy and Fabrik client applications ‑‑ virtually identical except for branding ‑‑ let you choose which files and folders, and also file types, to back up. After initial backup, they only copy files that have changed so subsequent backups are relatively fast.

Both perform backups either when the computer is not in use or according to a schedule you set. And both can backup open or in-use files such as Outlook database files. Mozy Pro will automatically backup files as they change, and it keeps multiple versions. Fabrik Ultimate Backup detects changed files and backs them up every two hours.

Strong Security

Security is as good as most small businesses require. Mozy and Fabrik both protect your data with 128-bit SSL encryption during backup – the same technology banks use for online transactions.

They store data with 448-bit Blowfish encryption to ensure it’s safe from hackers. Mozy Pro subscribers have the option of 256-bit military-grade encryption with user-set keys.

Mozy looks like it should last. It was originally launched in 2006 by an entrepreneurial firm, but was later acquired by EMC Corp., a multi-billion-dollar diversified IT company.

EMC has always been focused on areas related to storage and backup, so it may be more likely than most to survive the inevitable consolidation in this market.

Fabrik launched in 2005. In 2007, it purchased the consumer business of SimpleTech Inc., then the third-largest provider of add-on storage products. And last month, Hitachi Global Storage Technologies purchased Fabrik outright. So it too has a storage pedigree and strong backing from investors.

Proof in the Pudding

The real test of any online backup service is restoring files in an emergency. Your correspondent can confirm that Mozy and Fabrik work.

My laptop recently died, thousands of miles from home. Luckily I had a second machine with me and had backed up important data using free Mozy and Fabrik accounts.

Both offer a few ways to restore files. You can do it using the client software, but you can also do it from within Windows Explorer or by logging in to your account at the Mozy Web site.

Since my computer was dead and the client software inaccessible, I had to restore from the Web. It took more than two hours to download my 1.5GB Outlook file to the backup machine, but just having it, under the circumstances, was a blessing.

Backup: Other Options Abound

There are lots of other providers, including many that offer similar features.

iStorage from Iomega Corp., another multi-billion-dollar storage products vendor, promises strong security – 128-bit SSL or 256-bit AES – but costs a little more, with prices for iStorage Home ranging from $5.99 a month for 1GB of capacity to $50 a month for 15GB.

Intronis, which started out targeting Fortune 500 companies, launched its eSureIT online backup service in 2003, making it a pioneer. It also boasts strong security – 256 AES encryption during backup and archiving. Intronis offers 2GB of free storage, but charges per gigabyte per month ($2.99) for additional – and you have to provide billing information to get the free capacity.

Back Up My Info, which we wrote about here, is more expensive again but differentiates itself by offering highly personalized service. Its employees check to ensure subscribers’ backups are completed regularly.

Other options include MyOtherDrive (which includes sharing features as well as backup), Storage Guardian (another pioneer that has been in operation for 10 years) and iDrive.

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

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This article was originally published on March 19, 2009
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