Best Online File Storage: (out of 11)
IBackup, Xdrive, Yahoo! Briefcase
||What the Research Says
(*est. $16/month for 1GB; without file sharing *est. $15/month
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
(*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
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