### Drobo

Going beyond a single external hard drive is The Drobo 5D, a USB 3.0 / Thunderbolt storage system that you fill with hard drives (up to five to be exact). You can add hard drives at any time and of any size and make. Once it reaches a certain point, the Drobo can protect itself against drive failure so if one of the drives was to fail, you can simply swap the drive out even with it switched on and it would continue running with no interruption.

The Drobo appears as a single hard drive when connected to a PC or Mac that you can then use to back up to. Once your Drobo starts getting full, you can also upgrade the drives by replacing each drive one by one with larger ones.

The Drobo units are more suited to those who do use multiple external hard drive and have far more than 3 or 4TB of data to backup. External hard drive capacities can only go so far and the Drobo units can have multiple hard drives fitted, meaning a huge leap in available storage space.

## Offsite Backup Services

Any backups that aren’t in the same location as the computer being backed up are known as offsite, the most common of which are online backup services that provide the same functionality as an onsite backup but instead of saving to an external hard drive, it’s saved to their servers over the Internet. It isn’t limited to just online backup services, either. Taking your backup drive home is a form of offsite backup.

Should your computer and backup drive ever be lost or stolen, having on offsite backup provides a redundancy should something like the above ever happen.

In fact, since OS X Mountain Lion, you can specify multiple hard drives by adding another one via Time Machine’s preferences, which will cause Time Machine to alternate backing up to each drive. One of these drives could then be taken away and brought in once a week to keep it up to date.

Offsite backups tend to be more complex and, in the case of online services, much slower and a little more costly than onsite alternatives. For example, let’s say I have 1TB of data that I would like to keep backed up. With an onsite solution, I could use a 2TB USB drive and it would probably take a few hours to create a complete backup.

With an offsite backup, I’m at the mercy of my broadband’s upload speed as well as any data cap that my Internet provider might have. If we assume my upload speed is 1.5Mb/s then it would take roughly 67 days of continuous upload to generate a full backup!

### Dropbox (Mac OS X, Windows, Linux)

While Dropbox isn’t specifically a backup service, it ticks all the boxes when it comes to being used as an offsite backup service. Any data stored in your Dropbox folder is always stored online on their servers so you’re protected against loss or hardware failure.

Dropbox provides access to deleted and earlier versions of files up to 30 days old as part of any Dropbox account. Using their Packrat feature ($3.99 per month) will provide unlimited versioning, meaning every time you change a file and it’s uploaded to Dropbox, you can browse to a previous version. There are some disadvantages to using Dropbox primarily as a backup. For starters, you need to keep everything within your Dropbox folder so it will likely require a fundamental change to your workflow to use, making it unsuitable. Dropbox plans are available as follows: • 2GB account is free • 100GB for$9.99 per month
• 200GB for $19.99 per month • 500GB for$49.99 per month

Should you use more space than this then Dropbox won’t have enough space for you to use, not to mention it could take weeks to upload all your data to their servers.

Backblaze is a dedicated online backup solution that is really cheap to use at just $5 per month for unlimited storage, with discounts if you pay annually. The subscription is per computer so if you have two computers, you’d subscribe twice but each subscription covers any attached hard drives that you use with them. Backblaze can be thought of as an online version of Time Machine. It’s backing up everything all the time, excluding your operating system and applications and whatever else you specify to exclude. A useful function of the Backblaze backup service is something called “de-duplicating”. Every file that will be backed up is analysed and if it detects identical files then it will only back it up once. Many of us often have duplicates of files all over the place and Backblaze still records this but only uploads the file once, speeding up the backup. Restoring files can be done via their online web interface. Should you need to restore several gigabytes (or more) worth of data, you can order a USB stick or hard drive with the required information and have it shipped to you, reducing the download time to recovering large amounts of data. Finally, Backblaze also features an iOS app to access all of your backed up files remotely. ### Carbonite (Mac OS X, Windows) Another popular online backup service is Carbonite. Priced at$59 per year, it also boasts unlimited storage and the ability to back up external drives.

During the Carbonite setup, you can specify whether to start backing up straight away or if you’d like to specify the files and folders you’d like to back up.

Backing up external hard drives is only possible using Carbonite’s “HomePlus” plans and above, costing from $99 per year, making it more expensive than Backblaze. As well as being able to restore files online, Carbonite offers mobile apps for both iOS and Android, providing access to your backed up data on a wide number of smartphones. ### CrashPlan (Mac OS X, Windows) CrashPlan is probably considered the king of backup solutions as it provides a mix of onsite and offsite solutions. It offers unlimited online storage for backups as part of the$59.99 per year CrashPlan+ Unlimited plan. Companies such as Apple and Google use CrashPlan for their employee backups and with customers like that, you can be sure they're serious about backups.

CrashPlan’s software, although not the most user friendly, is extremely powerful and the backup engine is always running. What sets CrashPlan apart from the rest of the services we’ve gone through today is that it can perform both onsite and offsite backups.

In addition to backing up to the online storage that comes as part of your CrashPlan service, you can also have CrashPlan back up to an external drive (or multiple drives).

There’s a few extra features up CrashPlan’s sleeves, notably de-duplication and compression are as standard. Compression is performed on your computer so it will use some CPU resources and CrashPlan allow you to customise just how much CPU it can use. The more CrashPlan can compress, the less data it has to upload and the more data it can store on a hard drive.

Restoration can be done either within the CrashPlan app or, if the file was backed up online, using the online interface.

## Conclusion

For a complete solution that’s easy to use, I’d be hard pushed to recommend anything other than CrashPlan. The ability to set up both an onsite and offsite backup in the same app makes it an attractive choice for someone wanting to have a complete backup solution that’s as easy to use as possible.

If you’re happy with your existing onsite backup setup (such as Time Machine or Windows Backup) but would like to explore the option of offsite backups then Backblaze represents the best price for the features available.

Everyone will have a different requirement for backing up and whilst I have provided a wide range of back up solutions, it’s ultimately something that you’ll need to plan so you can determine which will be right for you.