What to look for in an online backup service

By: George Lange

There are many online backup service providers today and their number is increasing everyday. Each new provider tries to differentiate their services by offering additional features with their innovative online backup system. Below is the list of the most useful features which can help you choose the one best for you:

Accessible anywhere: you should be able to access files protected by Online Backup systems at any time, directly from the client installed on your PC. Or you can access your files from any PC or cell phone with an internet connection via the service provider’s website.

Multicomputer (several computers, one account): only some services let a single user protect several computers with the same account. Most follow the concept: one account, one computer. Thanks to this system, you can Backup your home and office computers and access data through a single interface regardless of where the saved data came from.

Permanent storage: You should pay careful attention to storage length. In fact, some services guarantee protection for an amount of time that can be virtually infinite (as long as you pay the subscription). Others, on the other hand, only backup and protect data for several days (usually 30). This means that you only have 30 days to recover data that was backed up online. Otherwise data is permanently lost.

Real time backup: If a user creates a new file or changes an existent one, the client immediately and automatically saves new or changed files on the remote server. Not all services include this function. Some only backup files every 12 or 24 hours.

Fully automatic: Once you choose what to save, the client starts with the computer, silently and continuously running in background to protect data without having to intervene and only if computer resources (band, RAM, CPU) are not used by other more important processes. You can also decide to backup new files at any time until you fill all your available space.

Sharing: Online Backup is virtually an extension of popular “file sharing” systems – those services that let you publish your files online to share with friends or co-workers or provide you with a virtual HD on the internet. There is a significant difference with Online Backup. Data is already on the internet and is uploaded while you are working on something else. This data can be immediately shared with a single click. The size of the file to be shared doesn't make a difference in some Online Backup services. The client automatically sends an e-mail to the file recipient with a link to the file. At this point, the person who receives the e-mail clicks on the link and simply downloads the file. Other systems have size limits for files to be uploaded and the process is more complicated.

Excellent performance: The best Online Backup services do not slow down your computer. Generally, they monitor how many resources are being used by the system and adjust to user needs. This way, they do not affect computer performance.

Search engines: The best Online Backup programs have an internal search engine that lets you quickly find and manage your files. Some have a semantic search system that lets you run advanced searches in documents with more detailed results.

Scalable On-Demand: Available space can be increased in almost all services by paying for additional Gigabytes. Many software houses sell standard packages of a set number of Gigabytes. Others are more flexible and take customer needs into account.

Versioning: the system traces all changes made on a certain file for a virtually indefinite period of time. Whenever the file is saved, the system only saves the incremental part, creating a new version. Thus, if you want to restore an old document that was accidentally overwritten, simply go back and open all the previous versions. The system does not delete saved files unless the user deletes them. Only a few providers include this essential feature.

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Backup Data Offsite is an online provider of offsite data backup solutions and you can use the services of them to store data offsite.

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