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online backup and storage
Online Storage is a huge and sometimes bewildering subject. This simple title covers a whole range of services all connected to storing files online. Under the umbrella of Online Storage are such areas as Online Backups, File Sharing, File Synchronising, Remote Collaberation, Online Photo Albums and Social Network File Access, to name but a few. If you are in the market for any or all of these then your first step is to work out exactly what you need NOW and what you think you will need in the next 1-2 years. That might seem like a long way off but if you have a good understanding of your current and future requirements you will be in a much better position to choose a solution (or solutions) that fit your needs.

Online Storage breaks down into 4 main areas:

  1. Online Backup and Restore
  2. Online Collaberation
  3. File Synchronisation
  4. File Sharing

Some products offer just one of these options while others offer all of them and many offer a combination. Below are 5 of our favourite products. We have examined over 100 products and have analysed 30 so far - we will be releasing new comparisons in blocks of 5 over the next month or so. We are currently finishing off in-depth reviews of these 5 and several others that we feel are worthy of the honour! If you are currently using an online storage product then let us know your opinions on it by leaving a comment below. Similarly, if you want us to do a full review on a product let us know and we will bump it higher on our list.

Happy browsing and we hope this helps you find the product you need.

Ranking 1 2 3 4 5
Mozy BackupMozy SugarSyncSugarSync LiveDriveLiveDrive CarboniteCarbonite
Overall Rating 5 Star 4 Star 4 Star 4.5 Star 3.5 Star
- Feature Set
- Ease Of Use
- Pricing
- Support

4 Star
5 Star
5 Star
4 Star
3.5 Star
5 Star
3 Star
5 Star
3.5 Star
4 Star
5 Star
5 Star
3.5 Star
5 Star
4.5 Star
4 Star
4 Star
4 Star
5 Star
4 Star
Full Review Mozy Online Backup Full Review Box.Net Full Review SugarSync Full Review LiveDrive Full Review Carbonite Full Review
Screenshots Mozy Screenshots Box.Net Screenshots SugarSync Screenshots LiveDrive Screenshots Carbonite Screenshots
Initail Setup free free free free free
Cheapest Monthly Paid Plan $4.95 / mth $9.99 / mth $4.99 / mth $6.95 / mth n/a
Cheapest Annual Paid Plan $54.45 / year n/a $49.99 / year $63 / year $54.99 / year
Plans free, home, pro, enterprise Lite, Individual, Business, Enterprise Free

Backup &

Initial storage allowance free - 2Gb
home - unlimited
pro - $0.50/Gb
free - 1Gb
ind. - 5Gb
Bus. - 10Gb/user
Ent. - no limit
free - 2Gb
personal - 30-250Gb
Bus. - 100Gb & 3 users
unlimited unlimited
Cost of additional storage home - free
pro - $0.50/Gb
n/a n/a n/a unlimited
Cost of Additional devices / users home - 1 free
pro - $4.95 /user / mth
n/a n/a unlimited unlimited devices / 1 user per account
Corporate Plans
Password Protect
Web Portal Encryption 128bit SSL 128bit SSL 128bit SSL 128bit SSL 128bit SSL
Encryption during transfer 128bit SSL 128bit SSL 128bit AES 256bit AES DES III
encryption on servers 448bit Blowfish 256bit 128bit 256bit AES DES III & 448bit blowfish
Private Key 256bit AES


128bit AES 256bit AES 256bit AES
Online Backup Features
Block Level Backup
time to backup 2Gb of data 26 mins 43 mins 20 mins < 10 mins
Network Drives Pro Only manually
Central Control Pro Only via web portal via web portal and desktop via web portal
Exchange / Domino Pro Only
SQL Server Pro Only
SYSVOL and AD Pro Only
Backup Open / Locked files


Progress Indicator
Add to backup set via right-click
Backup Scheduling Pro Only PC only
Backup Status Notifications PC only
File Versioning free - none
ind. - 5
bus. - 10
5 versions PC only: 3 months
Removable Media manually
Online Restore Features
From client
From Web Portal
Right-click Restore
Whole machine recovery
Control and Analysis Features
Backup Speed Controls (CPU) high / low priority
Bandwidth Throttling high / low priority
Logging and Reporting enterprise only
Proxy Server Configuration HTTPS on Pro SOCKS
Interface Features
Admin Portal Business Only Business Only
Multi Account Management Business Only Business Only
Software to install
Temporary file location system temp n/a n/a configurable system temp
Virtual Drive
Web Portal
Mobile Devices
Blackberry via web:  
Windows Mobile via web:  
PDA via web:  
Other via web:  
Commercial Usage home - none commercial none none none none
Individual file size Lite - 25Mb
rest - 1Gb
2Gb between devices unlimited none
Supported Platforms PC and MAC n/a PC and MAC PC MAC (via web) ftp PC and MAC
Supported Web browsers most most most most most
max. devices free - 2
home - 5
pro - unlimited
n/a unlimited unlimited unlimited
Upload / Download Size Limits unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited unlimited
File Deletion Retention Policy 30 days 30 days unlimited unlimited 30 days
File Sharing & Collaberation
Private Sharing
Public Sharing
Multiple levels of file access Pro only
Multi-level folders
Sign in, Sign out file level passwording file level passwording file level passwording
to multiple devices Pro only
to web portal
Web Applications
Social Networks Facebook Facebook
Anything to install
Access from anywhere
Telephone Support Pro Only $99.99 / year $19.99 / year
Live Chat
Email / Webform
Knowledge Base
Free Trial
free version
Case Studies

User Comments

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Why Use Online Storage?

No one readily admits to liking insurance, especially paying for it. However, when something goes wrong everyone is thankful they have it. The same can be said about online backup, which is the process of copying files over the Internet and storing it remotely in another location.

When a computer crashes, a fire or theft occurs or equipment is damaged after a disaster, everyone rejoices that important files were safely backed up and available for use in short order.

You may be thinking that your backup and storage requirements are being met by periodically copying your important files or folders to CD, DVD, flash drives or alternate hard drives. That’s an important first step. But where do you keep the CDS, DVDs or hard drives? Many keep them right where their computers are or somewhere in the same vicinity. That’s not helpful when a fire or flood hits home.

Others will argue that their IT departments routinely employ tape cartridges or software backups to handle storage requirements. Again, unless copies are sent offsite, that’s not very useful in a disaster recovery scenario. Plus, it takes some serious knowledge and experience to configure, maintain, backup and restore information. Many small businesses do not have this expertise in house.

Consider the main causes for Data Loss:

The Online Backup Advantage

A simple solution requiring the least amount of company resources is generally what businesses seek out. By simply downloading software, installing it on your PC or Mac and connecting to the online backup provider’s server, you can administer a secure online backup strategy. What’s more this can be an automated procedure being conducted at regular intervals while your computer is still on.

What’s simpler than sending your encrypted, password-protected data to another computer over the Internet? If the data is lost or stolen, you contact the online backup provider and retrieve the information.

Even better, for many, is a web-based option in which you can access all your files from anywhere you can use a PC, laptop or mobile device such as an iPhone or blackberry, providing you have a high speed Internet connection. Granted, this option works best for a few files stored rather than the entire contents of your hard drive.

To reiterate, online backup services allows you to:


You’re sending your valuable information to another source and you’re concerned about the security measures especially during transfer. One has to ask the service provider for explicit details here; we’ll address this in the questions to ask when ”Choosing an Online Backup Service Provider”.


Dial up Internet connections will obviously take more time in the transfer and retrieval process. This can be overcome somewhat by scheduling overnight backups. Also, the first backup will take longer to complete depending on the amount of data transferred. It gets faster as you continue to use the service as only new or updated files are uploaded.

The Usual Risks

Internet-based companies are fairly new and sometimes go out of business, but the same is true for all business undertakings. It becomes crucial to choose the right solution provider.

What’s the Next Step?

Basically, you must establish what you need to back up. This is impacted by the number of workstations you have and what you establish as crucial information to your business or home. For a business, backing up your sales and billing information daily may be a considerable amount of data in some organizations. Even various components of your operating system or application files, if so desired, may fall under the realm of vital in terms of storage.

Once you establish the needs and the amount of information that you need to survive in the event of an emergency, it’s time to go online backup shopping.

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Choosing An Online Backup Service Provider

There are hundreds of online backup providers clamoring for your business. To ensure you make the best decision, there are several questions to ask the potential candidates. Besides the traditional ‘tell me about yourself’ to learn how long the company has been in business, their financial status and their stance on the Mac vs. PC issue, you have to dig a bit deeper.

Do you offer a free trial period?

Many online backup providers provide a 15 to 30-day trial period. This is ideal to evaluate the service and conduct a test to see how long it would take to send and especially to recover your data before an emergency situation occurs.

Where are your data centers located?

It’s preferable that the main data center is located a fair distance away from your own facility to offset a common disaster. A rule of thumb is about 100-miles, but there’s nothing wrong with spreading it out further and these days it is fairly normal for providers to spread the data over 2 or 3 geographically diverse locations so that in the event of a major catastrophy your data is still secure.

How secure is your service and your storage facility?

Ask about encryption, firewalls, uninterruptible power supply, backup generators, raised flooring, and Cabling compliance. Who will have access to my data? What is your own company’s backup policy? What are the physical safeguards on the servers?

How are costs determined?

Basically, the total amount of data being backed up, the number of machines that the backup is coming from and the number of versions of the data files being stored will figure into the cost of the service. But what happens if you exceed capacity? What additional charges will occur if my needs change?

Can you provide customer testimonials and may I speak with a few of them?

Always ask for references, period.

What happens to my data if you go out of business?

It’s a fair question. How quickly will you get my files back, and in what form?

"I Don't have time to do all that"

Doing all of the above is necassary. However, most people don't have - or want to spend - the time needed to go through that checklist with dozens of providers. That's where we come in. We have done all the legwork for you! We have interviewed each of these companies and we have tried each of the products they offer.

We rank the products according to their technical abilities, features and user friendliness. However, that does not mean that our #1 pick is the best solution for you. Find the features you need and then use our comparison charts to match those to products. If you find multiple products that meet all your needs then start looking at your wishlist. If you get completly stuck, contact us and we'll help you through to a final decision.

Happy hunting!

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