Online Backup

Failures happen. We all know that we should backup our files, regardless of OS or platform. I, like many, am guilty of not really following a good backup regimen. When I do backup it is most often to either a removable device or to another machine across the LAN. Recently I’ve been working from a couple of locations some distance apart so have been doing backups between locations with the help of SSH. Having both local and remote backups is good in case the backups at one location are destroyed by fire, children or some other catastrophe.

Lately I’ve been thinking about keeping backups online, either by compressing files to an archive and uploading that to my own web space or by using some online service. The archive-and-upload option doesn’t readily allow for incremental backups, version control or use of the online repository to synchronize files between computers. If I had a co-located server or something I might run Unison, but I’m just backing up desktop/laptop machines and only have a simple web hosting account. An online service is tempting for the added features they can provide.

A few online options are Mandriva Click ‘n Backup, Ubuntu One (currently Beta), Dropbox and Symantec’s Norton Online Backup (recently available in Canada). Here’s a bit of a comparison from looking over their websites.

Feature Mandriva Ubuntu Dropbox Symantec
OS support Linux
Mac OSX
Windows
Ubuntu 9.04+
(currently Gnome only)
Linux
Mac OSX
Windows
Windows
Gratis version No 2 GB 2 GB No
Base Price 6.99 eu ($7.77 usd) /mo 20GB $10/mo 10GB $9.99/mo or $99/yr 50GB $49.99/yr
# of PCs unlimited unlimited unlimited 5
Add Increments 20, 40, 100 GB ? 50 GB 10, 25, 50, 100 GB
Web Interface Option Yes Yes Yes Yes
Encryption (pre-upload) 256 bit AES ? 256 bit AES 256 bit
Syncronization Yes Yes Yes ?
Shared Files Yes ? Yes ?
Public Files No ? ? ?
Storage At Europe, USA ? Amazon S3, USA ?
Languages English
Mobile Platforms ? No IPhone (more planned) ?

All Windows are XP/Vista
Mandriva Click ‘n Backup works with other distros.
Dropbox support Fedora, Ubuntu. Others reported to work.
Ubuntu One is Ubuntu only.

For me, Symantec’s offering is immediately eliminated for being Windows only. Ubuntu’s is eliminated with little more thought for being Ubuntu only. I have an Ubuntu laptop, but I also have four Mandriva machines.

I really like Dropbox. It has a gratis account level, which is great for anyone who does not need a lot of space or who wants to try before they buy. The personality of the Dropbox website appeals to me. Their daemon is closed, but the UI is Free. Unfortunately (for me) it’s a nautilus plug-in. There are a couple of CLI options. Hmmm. I’d really like a GUI client I can use under KDE.

Mandriva is what I use most on my computers. I like it and so am predisposed to be friendly to their offerings. I expect it will work under KDE. The terms and conditions for Click ‘n Backup make me pause though. Some excerpts;

"You may use the machine readable version of the Software only, and only in connection with your use of the Storage. You may authorize use of the Software by that number of your employees or agents for whom you have paid a license fee."

"Each authorized user may install and use the Software on as many computers as he or she wishes, but a license for a single user may not be shared by two or more individuals."

"The Storage relies in part on Microsoft software. Microsoft requires that we notify you of this and advise you that Microsoft is not responsible for providing any support in connection with the Services."

Hello? Is this Mandriva?

"You represent and warrant that you are not on the United States Department of Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Controls list of Specially Designated National and Blocked Persons and are not otherwise a person to whom your service provider is legally prohibited to provide the Services. You may not use the Services for the development, design, manufacture, production, stockpiling, or use of nuclear, chemical or biological weapons, weapons of mass destruction, or missiles, in a country listed in Country Groups D: 4 and D: 3, as set forth in Supplement No. 1 to the Part 740 of the United States Export Administration Regulations, nor may you provide access to the Service to any person (including any natural person or government or private entity ) that is located in or is a national of Cuba, Iran, Libya, Sudan, North Korea or Syria or any country that is embargoed or highly restricted under United States export regulations. The Software contains “strong encryption” that is controlled for export by United States law and the laws of other countries. "

Huh?

Well, I don’t think I’m going to be working on weapons of mass destruction in this lifetime. Hmmm, “is a national of Cuba, Iran,….”. My friend Arman is from Iran. Does he still have Iranian citizenship? I don’t know. So, what if he visits and borrows my computer? Yes, I’m being a little silly there (I think), but really I don’t feel comfortable with these terms.

Maybe I’ll have to whip up my own solution that will provide the features I want on my own terms using my own webspace. If any of these services look good to you though, follow the links below.

lynx

lynx


http://www2.mandriva.com/mdvbackup
https://ubuntuone.com
http://www.getdropbox.com
http://www.symantec.com/norton/online-backup

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