Death of the Diinosaur

I highly recommend using an online backup service. If you're not familiar with the concept, the idea is that you upload stuff you don't want to lose to a server somewhere belonging to someone who, you trust, has a decent data integrity setup somewhere secure. Ideally, stuff is uploaded automatically, typically by a program that notices which files are new or have changed, and ideally by one which only uploads the difference.

The first one I used was Carbonite, which at the time was good for Windows users but…

a) Insisted you can only backup stuff on NTFS and FAT partitions*

b) .. on internal drives only**

c) Turns out to slow down uploads if you're backing up a lot of data

d) Failed to tell me that they had a very good offer on renewing!

So that got ditched. I was also using Windows less and less. The replacement was Diino which…

a) Used a Java program to do the backup/restores, so worked on Linux

b) Let you pay £40 or €50 or $50 a year – having a credit card that does 0% on foreign currency transactions, obviously I went for the dollars

c) Didn't care about where the data was or the file system it was on: if you could see it, you could back it up.

d) Had helpful support.

And it's been lovely for the past few years…

… until this month, when its investors decided that they wanted to stop funding it. It's currently due to close at the end of the month, which means that even if they get other money and continue, I still have to find somewhere else in case they don't (while the really important stuff is backed up elsewhere, the important stuff needs to be backed up prior to the 31st somewhere that will be around next month).

Finding a replacement has been interesting. I think my wish list is reasonable:

* Needs to work for Linux systems and file systems.

* I'd prefer certainty over annual cost to Amazon's 'so much per Gb, so much per etc' model.

* It needs to be reasonably priced for about 1Tb of data.

* It'd be lovely if it worked with rsync or csync.

* It needs to be around this time next year, and the year after that etc.

The first one cuts down the list somewhat. The second one does too – Amazon are likely to be around for a while 🙂 and do offer, via 'Glacial' a cheaper than their 'S3' service… up until you actually want the data back, in which case it gets very expensive (it's clearly for companies that have to archive stuff they're never going to want to see again).

I'm not sure how much I've used on Diino – the software doesn't make it easy to find out – but before I started doing the 'back up everything run' after getting home from BiCon (it was half way through when I got the 'we're closing' email!) it must have been over 500Gb.

The fourth turns out to be surprisingly expensive: somewhere between $1k and $2k for 1Tb, which is really strange – what's the issue with allowing someone to run a standard and efficient program to upload their data?!?

So after looking at with fingers crossed as to the fifth requirement, the shortlist is (drum roll):

Anyone using any of them? Anyone tried and rejected any of them?

* Although they won't use either themselves: FAT for obvious reasons, and NTFS because it's crap at having lots of files. (Microsoft told them that when they asked why it kept falling over!)

** If you pay them more, you can now do one – and only one – external drive. If it's not connected by a network cable. USB would be ok, but ESATA or Firewire may not be, dunno.


Death of the Diinosaur — 2 Comments

  1. I haven't tried any of them yet (still comparing/investigating) but here's my two cents for what it is worth (uh, two cents?):

    – AltDrive seems to have the bases covered, but there are not many reviews out there and I'd like to know what their clients are written in — also, I wish they had an option for their home version to retain deleted files for longer than 30 days — one other thing that is worrying; they had an icon on their page claiming they are a "BBB Accredited Business", but when you clicked on the link, the BBB page it took you to:

    said just the opposite (although there are no complaints filed) — shortly after I sent them an email about it (via BBB's site), the icon has been removed but I haven't seen a response from them yet — did they get caught in a lie or is there some other explanation?

    – CrashPlan — I really wanted them to be the one because of their pricing and retention policies, but their current clients are written in Java and have been reported in many places as troublesome (using too much memory, crashing, etc) — they have recently stated that they are working on "native" Windows and Mac clients, but not for Linux 🙁

    – KeepIt — I hadn't heard of this service until your post (thanks!) — they seem to have great policies, but two things concern me — they are not based in the US (well, a concern for me as a US customer) and, secondly, they have not updated their blog since April and their latest server status is dated 29/4 – 2011…

  2. Just a follow-up on the AltDrive/BBB situation — I did get a response from the president of AltDrive less than 30 minutes after my email to them (it ended up in my Gmail spam folder, so I didn't see it until today) and he explained the situation and provided a link to a 20/20 investigation about the BBB's very despicable practices:

    Needless to say, AltDrive is now at the top of my shortlist for potential online backup service providers.

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