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Review: Five Online Backup Services Keep Your Data Safe

If you know you need to back up your data, but keep putting it off, one of these online services may help you keep your backups up-to-date.

eSureIT
eSureIT is for moderately experienced to advanced users, since it includes the ability to perform direct backups for Exchange, SQL Server, and mapped drives (within some of the pricing plans). This puts it roughly on the same level as iBackup -- while the higher-end pricing plans will be useful for those who can afford them, the low-end plan is also more expensive than many of the other services profiled here. eSureIT also runs on just about every extant version of Windows, too: everything from Windows 98 and NT 4.0 through Vista.



eSureIT gives you a lot of control over the way files are handled, such as being able to delete files according to specific rules. (Click image to enlarge.)

The backup plans for eSureIT come in two tiers, home and business. The business end is a little more cost-effective. Home plans go from $10 to $20 and 1GB to 4GB of storage a month, and include automatic backups for common document types. Business plans go from $25 to $200 and 5GB to 50GB a month, and also let you perform backups of SQL Server and Exchange repositories. There’s also a referral program: if you recommend the company to someone else and they buy service, you can get a month’s backup for free as incentive.

Five Backup Services


•  Introduction

•  AT&T Online Vault

•  Carbonite

•  eSureIT

•  iBackup

•  Mozy

•  Conclusions

When you set up eSureIt on your PC, you’ll be asked to create an encryption key, which consists of a 48-character alphanumeric string. This can be anything you want (although spaces and punctuation are not allowed), or you can just let the program randomly generate a key for you. As with the other backup programs that let you use your own encryption key, you’re also given the option to back the key up somewhere before you start encrypting anything with it. Lose the key and your backups are unrecoverable, so be careful.

eSureIt lets you configure multiple backup sets, each with its own choice of file types or directories, and scheduling. Backup sets can be cloned or edited (and, of course, deleted), and even if a backup is set to run on a schedule, you can always run it on-demand. You’re automatically notified about finished backups in e-mail, but you can always turn that function off through the program’s monitoring options.

There are several ways to restore backed-up data. The easiest is just to explore the backup repository (by directory and file or by backup set), which you can do through the eSureIT client. Another option, Recover Catalog, lets you download a catalog of the backed-up files from the remote server so you can perform a restore operation on another computer. Backed-up data can also be sent back to you on CD, DVD, or even an external hard drive, depending on the amount to be restored.

If you want to delete files from the backup server, you can do that one of two ways: selectively, by exploring a directory tree and removing files manually; or collectively, by checking off a backup set and deleting everything associated with it. I liked how the delete function also allowed for some pretty fine-grained actions, such as being able to delete all files older than a certain date, or by revision.

The eSureIT client also has a plug-in architecture, but right now only two plug-ins are available: one to unlock Outlook PSTs and back them up on the fly, and another to perform actions before and after backups. A "Revision Rules" plug-in comes preinstalled, which allows you to remove old revisions of backed-up files based on user-created rules -- for instance, you can remove the x oldest revision of a document (the default is 10). This particular plug-in is pretty handy since while you don’t have an unlimited amount of backup space, you can backup an unlimited number of revisions for any given file.


eSureIT
Intronis, LLC
www. intronis.com
Price: 1GB for $9.95 monthly; other plans available.
Summary: A professional-level service with support for Exchange and SQL Server backups, eSureIT also has very fine-grained control over handling backed-up files.

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