Online File Storage Reviews

Best Online File Storage: (out of 11)
IBackup, Xdrive, Yahoo! Briefcase

Top Rated What the Research Says
(*est. $16/month for 1GB; without file sharing *est. $15/month for 4GB)

IBackup receives the majority vote among experts as the best online backup solution. Reviewers say IBackup offers the most flexibility, since files can be easily edited and moved once stored. Experts especially praise IBackup's intuitive interface, which allows users to schedule incremental, differential or full backups, and IBackup has a number of handy unique features. Its 'Snapshots' function allows you to quickly see what's in a backed up file without actually opening the file. You can also e-mail attachments directly into your online storage. Users can easily drag and drop files onto IBackup's encrypted servers. Altogether, IBackup is the best, most intuitive service, though Xdrive (below) is somewhat less expensive.
(*est. $10/month for 5GB of storage)

Xdrive has been around since 1999, and though experts say the service works well, its systems and interface fall short of the full-featured IBackup. According to reviewers, Xdrive isn't quite as easy to use as IBackup, but it still does the basics well, securely backing up important files. Xdrive, however, is less expensive than IBackup, so it's suited for users who need basic storage without the bells and whistles.
  Yahoo! Briefcase 
(30MB of free storage, additional 50MB for *est. $3/month)

If your online storage needs are small, experts suggest Yahoo! Briefcase, which offers 30MB of free online storage. Reviewers say uploading is simple and suggest increasing storage capability by registering more than one account. But if you'd like to keep all your files under one roof, you are ultimately better off with IBackup or Xdrive. Yahoo! does not encrypt your files, so they may be somewhat less secure. Still, if you just want a secure place to store a few irreplaceable files, Yahoo! Briefcase is an inexpensive way to back up your data online.
What the experts say, our analysis, and more...

Updated January 2005

Experts agree that all computer owners should use some kind of backup solution to protect against data loss or corruption. Online file storage is one option, allowing users to store their most important files on a secure remote server. Network Computing magazine provides a thorough analysis of top file-storage solutions on the Internet, basing their picks on ease of use, file sharing, speed and functionality. PC Today and PC Magazine also provide helpful comparisons on several Web storage sites. PC Magazine offers a detailed review of eighteen backup systems, including online storage, backup on optical media (CD's and DVD's) and backup to a second internal or external hard drive. Smart Computing magazine offers a very current listing of the best free online services, offering one choice in the area of online file storage. Consumer Reports magazine has not yet covered online file storage.

For ordinary consumers, online file-storage sites can be a good alternative to backups on CDs, DVDs or additional hard drives that are subject to damage and require physical storage. They provide solutions to folks who want to make backup copies of important documents, exchange files with friends and family members, or store data that would take up too much space on their hard drive, such as music, photo and video files. Most of these services work for all computer platforms. Online storage is not a replacement for traditional backup systems, but a secondary protection against unforeseen issues such as fire, theft or damage.

Some reviewers like Connected ($15/month for 2GB).  Experts like its quick speed, scheduling flexibility and its 'Data Protector', which keeps ten historical versions of files for ninety days. PC Magazine appreciates that Connected keeps the latest versions of popular software programs on its servers, saving your storage space for important data. Despite the praise, PC Magazine prefers IBackup to Connected because the "basic backup operations weren't quite as intuitive."

Ease of use is a common touchstone in reviews. While many online services such as Connected, SwapDrive and Xdrive do a perfectly good job of securely storing your backed-up data, features and functionality differ along with price. Xdrive, for example, has been around since 1999, and while reviewers say it accurately and securely stores your data, its interface and features lag a bit behind IBackup. Xdrive, however, is cheaper than IBackup, and if you have several gigabytes of data to store, the cost difference is significant. The bottom line? IBackup is easier, faster and more intuitive, but Xdrive is also effective and less expensive.


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* Pricing information is approximate as of the time this report was written and is based on observed market selling prices and/or list prices. Actual selling prices may differ.