Do you have a backup plan?

Image of a padlockYou know you need to back up your digital files. Maybe you’ve got your current research and your family photos backed up, but what about your teaching files? What about the last five years’ worth of email? What about those photos you just took last week — are they backed up yet?

You know you need to back up your files, but it’s kind of overwhelming. There are so many different ways to do it: you could get an external hard drive or several flash drives; you could back things up online; or you could back things up to a family member’s computer.

You know you need to back up your files, but you need it to be easy. You don’t want to have to keep remembering to run a backup every Friday afternoon.

You know you need to back up your files, but you keep putting it off, because it means thinking about all the forms of catastrophe that could happen, and you’d really rather not deal with it right now.

  • If you know you need a better system for backing up your files. . .
  • if you know your current approach to digital backups is incomplete . . .
  • if you know you really should back up all your files but you don’t know where to begin . . .

Here’s the one sentence you need to read:

It’s better to start backing up your files now than to put it off any longer. Don’t worry about trying to find the perfect solution. Just start. Now.

Here are five popular online backup solutions, and some of their key features. This is not intended as a comprehensive listing of product features nor as a comparative review. Please note that many of these companies offer pricing discounts if you purchase an annual subscription rather than monthly.


  • OS: MozyHome is available for Windows and Mac users. Mozy2xProtect, which backs up your files online and to an external drive you specify, is only available for Windows.
  • Features: automatic or scheduled backups, file encryption, web and mobile access to your files (iOS and Android)
  • Restore Files: through the software client, through the web interface, or by ordering a DVD
  • Pricing: 2GB free; 50 GB from 1 computer $5.99/month; 125 GB from up to 3 computers for $9.99/month. Add $2 more per month for an additional 20 GB of space.


  • OS: Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Features: automatic synchronization and backup; comprehensive encryption (your password is not stored in their system, meaning your files are secure but if you lose your password, your access cannot be restored); redundancy detection across multiple devices; file sharing; back up for external drives and network volumes as well as computers.
  • Restore Files: through the software client
  • Pricing: 2GB free; 100 GB for $10 (unlimited number of devices)


  • OS: Windows, Mac, and Linux
  • Features: CrashPlan offers both online backup and the option to backup some or all of your files to another computer; automatic and scheduled backups for computers and attached drives.
  • Restore Files: through the software client or web interface
  • Pricing: unlimited backups to another computer are free; for additional online backup, 10GB on 1 computer $2.50/month; unlimited files on 1 computer, $5.00/month; family plan for unlimited data on 6-10 computers for $12.00/month


  • OS: Windows or Mac
  • Features: automatically backs up everything except operating system files, temporary files, and applications from computers and external drives; you can set a private encryption key for additional security; automatic or scheduled backups.
  • Restore Files: through the web interface or through a DVD or USB drive mailed to you
  • Pricing: unlimited backup for $5 per month per computer


  • OS: Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android
  • Features: comprehensive security, synchronization and versioning, file sharing and synchronization
  • Restore Files: software or web interface
  • Pricing: 25 GB across unlimited devices for $49/year; other increments available.

What’s been stopping you from getting everything backed up? Let us know in the comments!

[CC licensed image from flickr user zimpenfish]

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