Back in 2009 my photo, video, and document collection got to the point where I could no longer back it up on just a few DVD’s. I was also rightfully concerned that storing backups on physical media at my house wasn’t enough. A thief, disaster, or even just corrupted physical media could cause me to lose all those files. Luckily at the same time there were waves of cloud providers offering online backup solutions. The choices over the past several years were numerous but I had very specific requirements:
- It had to be cheap.
- Backing up data should be simple.
- I should be able to use the provider’s backup client software on any device I own without incurring any additional cost.
- The provider should be a reliable name and not some fly-by-night that will be out of business after they realized they can’t compete with the major providers.
The biggest names in personal online-based backup in recent years have included Mozy and Carbonite but they both charge extra if you want to backup more than one computer. Amazon S3 is cheap but without an intuitive 3rd party backup client, it’s not a set-and-forget type of solution. Then there was Jungle Disk.
Jungle Disk is a backup solution that is now owned by Rackspace. The premise is simple, you pay a low $3 monthly fee to use the backup software and your data is stored in the pennies-cheap Rackspace cloud (or Amazon S3 if you choose). The software allows you to see your cloud storage as a networked drive in Windows as well as configure what files to back up and how often. The software may not be as intuitive as the competition but I was competent enough to set it up. My bill from Jungle Disk never exceeded $5/month.
A while back Microsoft re-branded its cloud storage to SkyDrive and offered 25GB free storage promotion if you signed up. I signed up but didn’t use it. I was wary of a product that was once Live FolderShare, then Live Sync, then Live Mesh, then finally SkyDrive. None of the previous incarnations of SkyDrive were particularly successful compared to competitors. SkyDrive is different though.
SkyDrive has a great web UI. It also has Android, iOS, and Windows 8 apps. Syncing folders is dead simple and it overall seems more useful than trusty Jungle Disk. The only thing that held me back was I didn’t want to tie up my bandwidth re-uploading all my files to a new data store. So I kept paying the monthly fee to Jungle Disk.
I then remembered that my ISP doubled my upload speed since I first joined Jungle Disk, so I finally gave it a try. Uploading files to SkyDrive didn’t bog down my internet speeds like I previously remember. Now I have all the functionality I used with Jungle Disk, but for free! If I ever do break that 25GB free limit that SkyDrive offeres me, another 20GB is only $10/year. Microsoft has finally put out a great cloud storage solution for people wanting to backup their personal data and I’m $5/month richer for cancelling Jungle Disk.