Online Backup Services – Will we finally get, what we need?

Backing up your files is important. It can save you from a lot of headaches. I know what I am talking about. A few weeks ago (when installing Ubuntu 8.04) I forgot to save my “home” folder!!!!

Stupid, I know, but it happend. So what now? I usually save all important files on an other partition of my hard disc, so no mayor problem. But wait – what about the emails? Exactly, they are stored in a folder called “.thunderbird” within my “home” folder.

So what did I do? I checked the latest back-up that I had made a few days before on my Icybox NAS. The last missing emails I got from Google Mail again. So I did actually not loose anything of importance.

But what if something even worse happens? Like your house or flat burns down (knock on wood), someone breaks into your house and steals everything? Well, here is were online back-up comes into the scene. I think everyone has files that are valuable enough to save them additionally online.

There are a few services out there, offering online backup to everything. Some even offer free space. But so far I did not like any of them. I wanted a simple solution. Because online backup space is only valuable if you actually back up your files! The easier backing up your files gets, the higher the probability is that you will actually do the backups.

So ideally everything is integrated into your operating system. Most of the services I found either did not offer a tool, or the tool was not easy to use or it was not available for Linux.

And now there is DropBox. They launched their online back up service to the public yesterday and I ran into them today. 😉

DropBox is available for Windows, Mac AND Linux, which makes it different to any other service I have found so far. There are 2GB of free space and a easy to install desktop tool for Ubuntu 8.04, that integrates well into Nautilus. See their explanations on how to install DropBox on Linux.

So I installed the software which is actually pretty easy. Create an account, download the correct package for your operating system and install it. You will be guided through a few short steps, get a tour (if you haven’t seen it on the website already) and that’s it.

You will then have a new folder in your home directory called “dropbox”. Everything you put into this folder will be synchronized with the online backup space. It’s that easy.

Currently DropBox only offers a free account with 2GB. At least I did not find anything else on their website. However, as DropBox has been funded with $1.5M I assume they will have a certain business model and they will soon offer paid accounts with more space. Because 2GB of back up space is not too much. Adrive.com for example offers 50GB for free. Here a little overview on the online backup services that I have found so far and I consider to be interesting:

Service Free Paid OS
Mozy.com 2GB $3.95+$0,5/GB per month Win|Mac
Box.net 1GB 5GB $7,95 per month Win|Mac|Linux
Adrive.com 50GB from 50GB from $6,95 Win|Mac
DropBox 2GB ? Win|Mac|Linux

I will follow this and test DropBox over the next few days and weeks. I will let you know how the service and the respective tools work over the time. So far I like the simple approach and would like to know the paid options. Because if the service works, I think it is worth to pay a few Euros (or Dollars) to save your important files online.

But you should be aware that personal data might be saved on those servers, so make sure to encrypt confidential data. You never know…

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