If you are going to go the route of using an online backup provider and online backup software, there are a few questions you need to think about when evaluating a provider.
1. What is the level of security that is being offered? Is it possible for the company to recover your password if you lose the password? Recall that if the company can recover a password for you, then they can probably access your data. Clearly no honest employee at a company would compromise client data, but what is your protection from a rogue employee or from an attack on your backup company’s servers?
2. Encryption. Practically every online backup software provides some level of encryption. You need to find out what level of encryption is appropriate for your data (family pictures vs financial data and medical records).
3. Accessibility. Is it possible to restore a single file and not just the entire backup. There are many times where you just need to access a few items, and some providers in the past did not allow individual files to be restored from a backup.
4. Do you mind having software running in the background all the time? Most backup software that connects you online prefers that you keep the software running at all times so that the backup can stay current. Personally I understand why the companies want the software running, but I don’t like programs running all the time. I also use an external hard drive backup, and I generally run my online backup software once per week (or before that if major changes are made)
5. Pricing, Is the pricing built for expansion? Some companies charge a flat rate, while others charge per GB (usually you get 2GB free and then you are charged in 5, 10, 50, 100GB increments depending upon the company). Also, because many companies do offer a flat rate unlimited backup (for personal use only), what other features are you getting by paying more, and are these features you will actually use.
6. I’ll leave the most important question for last. What level of support do you get? Is there a phone number or is there only email support? How quick is tech support’s response time? Because if you are in a situation on a Saturday afternoon where you need to restore a file and for some reason are having a problem, do you need to wait until Monday before someone can help.
Selecting an online backup provider is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when in comes to protecting your data. Hopefully these questions will give you food for thought in selecting a provider.