Our reviewers evaluate products and services based on unbiased research. Top Consumer Reviews may earn money when you click on a link. Learn more about our process.

Key Features of Online Backup Systems

Wednesday, January 19th

Key Features of Online Backup Systems

What are some important features to look for in an online backup system? Here are a few questions to help guide you in your research.

Ease of Setup
The most important computer application in the world becomes less then useful if it is difficult to install, setup, and use. Some services offer free trials to discover the answers to these questions.

  • Is the program easy to install and set up?
  • How easy is it to select which files and folders to back up?

User interface
After you have the application installed, take a look at the screen.

  • Are the screen elements logically arranged?
  • Is everything all bunched up, or is there plenty of "white space"?
  • Can you see at a glance how to do what you want to do?

Level of support and assistance
Even with applications that are easy to install and use, there might come a time when you need help or just have a question.

  • Does the service provide 24-hour telephone assistance?
  • Is there a live online "chat" function?
  • How does the service provide security
  • Do they offer any guarantees?
  • When the time comes to increase or decrease your storage requirements, how easy is this to do?

Transfer speed
An online backup system will upload thousands of bytes of data on a regular schedule. And someday you might need to download your files and restore them on your computer. Obviously, the faster this can be accomplished, the better.

  • Do you know the speed of your connection?
  • Does the service offer upload and download speeds that will "keep up" with the speed of your connection?

Amount of server space
Chances are the files you need to back up occupy a lot of disk space.

  • Does the server offer unlimited space?
  • Are there different price tiers for different needs?
  • Do you know how much space you need?
  • Does the service offer any tools to help you know how much space you need?

Multiple versions of files
It is often useful to have down-level versions of files you are working on.

  • Does the service offer protection of down-level versions, in case of accidental overwrites?
  • How many versions will be kept?
  • Is there a time limit before older versions are deleted?

Multiple computers
If your family is like mine you have more than one computer and maybe even multiple digital devices in your home.

  • How many computers can be backed up on one account?
  • Does each computer or device require its own account?
  • Does the service offer file sharing between multiple systems?

Other digital devices
Smart phones and tablets now contain many photos, music files, videos, emails, and other files.

  • Does the service offer connection and backup of data from other devices, like tablets and smart phones?
  • How easy is it to set up and connect these devices?
  • How easy is it to restore files to these devices?

Compatible with both Apple and PC
It is important to know if a service offers support for different operating systems.

  • Can the software be installed on both Apple and PC systems?
  • Can multiple types of systems be backed up on the same account?
  • Does the service work on UNIX, Linux, or other operating systems?

Before comparing features of online backup systems, make a brief list of your specific requirements.

The Best Online Backup Services Compare Online Backup Services Compare Online Backup Service Reviews What are the best Online Backup Services Best Online Backup Service Reviews

Online Backup Service FAQ

Online backup services give customers the ability to back up, secure and restore their files. In the event of data theft, hard drive failure or other loss, clients can easily get their information back from the service's cloud storage facilities.
Definitely not. Anyone can benefit from having their computers backed up to a secure cloud, whether the data contains sensitive financial data or treasured digital photos.
For the average personal user, the monthly fee starts at around $5. Business pricing begins around $30/month. Fees vary by the number of users and the amount of desired offsite storage space.
Free services are handy, but they're not designed to give you automated backup and seamless restoration of your files. If you're not on top of saving absolutely everything on your computer, your free storage is going to be incomplete. Using an online backup service with regularly scheduled backups is the best way to ensure that none of your files are lost.
At least once a week. Your online backup service may allow you to have continuous backups; your system is monitored constantly for any files that have been deleted, modified, created or moved and it updates accordingly in the background with no effort on your part.
If you use a reputable, reliable provider, your files are extremely secure. Be sure to choose a service that encrypts the data not only as it's being transferred but also as it's stored in their cloud. You should also check to see how your encryption key is stored; if you've got serious concerns, pick a service that allows you to create your own private key (and don't lose it, because the service won't be able to recover your data if you don't have the key!). Finally, it's worth asking where your provider's data centers are located; ones in the EU and US are preferred.
That will depend on how much you're backing up and your internet speed. It could take as little as an hour or as long as a week!
That's a frequent complaint among users of online backup services: difficulty in accessing support at all stages of the relationship (e.g. questions prior to signing up, during the initial backup process, several months into the service). Some providers have a better track record than others in this regard, so if you expect it to be less than smooth sailing because you're not tech-savvy, you should carefully choose an online backup service with a reputation for helpful, reliable customer support.
See the Best Online Backup Service
The Best Reviews of Online Backup Services