04.What to look for
Cost aside, it’s important to select a service that gives you the features you need, but note that you may not find all these features in any one service.
- Local and online backup. Some services will back up your data to a local hard drive or to another computer as well as to online servers, so you have access to all your files to do a full restore in the event of a major crash.
- Cross platform support can by handy if you use a combination of Windows, Mac and Linux computers, so you can access and share your files across different operating systems.
- Compression makes your files smaller, taking less time to back up and restore. Some services use smart compression, which identifies duplicate files, or parts of files, and only backs them up once, saving both time and space.Free entry level service giving you a full-featured no-cost account and storage for a relatively small amount of files, usually up to 2GB.
- Encryption. Your files are encrypted before they leave your computer, to protect them from access by any third party while in transit and while stored on the remote server’s hard drives.
- Local support provides you with a point of contact in Australia in the event of problems, avoiding time zone differences, though it won’t necessarily mean your files are hosted in Australia.
- Mobile access to your data via smartphones such as the iPhone, Blackberry, Android OS phones and Windows Mobile-based handsets.
- Multiple backups so you can use one account to store files online from more than one computer. Some services back up multiple computers to one account, each with own settings, at no extra charge.
- Multiple sources means you can select more than one folder on your hard drive as the folder to be backed up. This lets you back up different types of data (e.g. documents and pictures) without having them in the same folder or having to back up the whole drive.
- Monitor continuously for file changes means the program will keep an eye on files that are new or changed and back them up at the first opportunity, depending on your settings. This incremental backup can give you an up-to-the-minute safeguard against data loss.
- Sharing of selected online data with other users via password-protected web browser access, or sharing of photos with other online services such as Facebook or Flickr.
- Versioning (keeping several earlier versions of each file) is useful for going back to an earlier version of a file that has been changed in error, or for tracking changes. Some services keep several versions of each file.
Use the online service’s scheduling feature, if available, to backup at night when your computer is not being used and you can take advantage of your ISP plan’s larger/cheaper off-peak data allowance.
Avoid email overload
If you want to simply transfer files over the internet, you really shouldn’t clog up your email box, or anybody else’s. And if your file is over 5MB, chances are that either your email service or the recipient’s will reject the file for being too big.
- Send large files for free, without having to deal with configuring and using FTP (File Transfer Protocol) programs . Just send your file to a temporary online file storage service, from which your recipient can download it directly to their computer. All they have to do is click on the link you send them by email. This link is generated by the service once your file is stored online and it usually allows for up to a week to claim the file. You don’t even have to worry about removing it - after that time it simply disappears.
- To use a temporary file host you usually have to create an account with the service - quick and free for limited personal use. The limitation is 100MB per file and one or two gigabytes of transfers per month. These services make their money from business users. So, if you like the service and can use it more frequently they have business price plans to accommodate various needs.
- Many services of this kind available: You Send it (www.yousendit.com), 2large2email (www.2large2email.com), File Mail (www.filemail.com) , Send this file (www.sendthisfile.com) and Drop IO (drop.io). Please note, we didn’t test these services. A web search for “large file transfer” or similar terms will turn up numerous other services also.