There’s a lot of important stuff on our computer. Pictures of Annie and Andy, blog post archives and photos, recipes, family stuff, etc. All of that is stored on one little hard drive, just waiting to die. That’s scary…like scarier than Halloween scary. So this week I wanted to talk about some of the options for keeping your data safe and backing it up so if (when) something goes wrong with your laptop (insert thought of toddler pouring milk on the keyboard just to see what happens) you won’t lose all your files – only your mind. By the way, some of this stuff will apply to your cell phone/iPhone, tablet/iPad as well. Since I’ve used several of these products and haven’t used several others, I’ll only give you the details on the three we use and I know work well.
Dropbox (FREE, 2GB, for computer/phone/tablet)
I’ve used this service for about three years now and would be very sad without it. I use it as a go-between on my home and work computers and my iPhone and iPad. Quick example: since I’m a nerd and keep my checkbook register and our budget in Excel, I can keep the files in Dropbox and access them anywhere I have internet. There are two ways I use Dropbox: 1) download the software and put stuff in the folder it creates on your computer. It will automatically backup anything in that folder online. 2) Go to www.dropbox.com and sign in to access any of the files from your computer’s Dropbox folder or to add to/modify/delete what’s already there. The only downside to Dropbox is it is limited to 2GB of space. That’s a lot for basic files and I’ve not maxed out, but partially because you can refer friends and get a lot more space pretty easily by doing so. Love me? Sign up for Dropbox using my link. We’ll both get extra space if you and it won’t cost either of us anything.
Google Drive (FREE, 5GB, for computer/phone/tablet)
Google Drive is one that’s a little newer to me, but I’m learning to love it for some things. Tied to my Gmail account, Google Drive replaced Google Docs (confused yet?). Let me try to simplify. Just like Dropbox, Google Drive offers free online backup of any files you put in a specific folder on your computer after you download the software. The big difference, however, is that Google Drive likes to work with Google, so if you don’t have Gmail already, this one is probably not for you. It also likes to put everything in a Google Docs format, so if you don’t love that, this one probably isn’t for you. Here’s where Google Drive shines: Stacy and I have several files we share (the family Christmas list, financial data for Humorous Homemaking, etc.). Because we both have Gmail accounts, this works beautifully because either of can log in to our own Gmail account, click DRIVE at the top and voila. The files are there, shared and easy to collaborate on. Even though I find it to be a little more restrictive than Dropbox, if you’re a big Google user, this may be the service for you. If you need extra storage, you can buy it from Google.
Carbonite (NOT FREE, UNLIMITED SPACE, for computer/phone/tablet)
We’ve used Carbonite happily for a couple of years and it is an excellent failsafe for ALL our files. We kept hearing about it and wanted some way we could create an automatic backup of every file on our computer so we gave it a try. Carbonite shines at easy, no-fuss backups of your complete computer. How much space do you get? Unlike the other two services I mentioned, they limit the storage to a single computer, so the only limit is the size of your computer’s hard drive. You can also go to carbonite.com and get your data from any internet device (just like the services above). The only downside to Carbonite is that it does cost money. Right now it is $59 per year for Mac or Windows. That’s a lot, but I had a hard drive crash a few years ago and it was awful. I’d pay twice that to avoid having that happen again. Carbonite does give you a free, 15-day trial to see if it is what you want before you have to pay for it.
I’m familiar with some other programs like Mozy, Amazon Cloud Drive, ADrive, IDrive, etc. but since I’ve not used them, I can’t say whether or not I’d recommend them. Do you have any online backup services you love? If so, why?