Cloud backup comparisons

I, along with many others, am currently having to decide which online backup to turn to now that my current provider (Crashplan) has decided it doesn’t want to have to deal with individual consumers.

Where could I possibly turn to find a review of online backup providers? Ah, yes - thank you, Choice. There’s even a buying guide to assist in my time of need. So why am I writing this post?

Well, the comparison list is nice, but has only three filter options. Living, as one does, in the Antipodes, one of my major concerns is speed. How well do these international options actually perform, when I want to back up my local data to the Cirrus (or Cumulus, or Cumulo-Cirrus…)? While there is a combined ‘performance’ score that apparently includes upload, download and system impact, these three elements are very different and I suggest need to be separately enumerated.

So when Choice next compares online backup options, can I suggest that speed of upload and download be separated in order to assist the reader/buyer?

While I’m here, I suppose I should mention all the items I would like to see in future backup comparisons:

  • Speed of backup (and whether there is an offline backup option such as me shipping them a hard drive)
  • Speed of restore (and whether there is an offline restore option such as them shipping me a hard drive)
  • Impact on my machine’s performance
  • Security - and whether this can be set so the company has absolutely no way of reading my personal files, as well as whether there is a lazier option for people who forget passwords and are not quite so paranoid. Additionally, it is important to know how security claims have been checked. I signed up with a company called Degoo a while ago, and its app gives the user absolutely no indication of what it is doing with their data! Yes, it says it encrypts it. No, I get no indication of how/when/where, or of whether it does it properly. Many companies have shown that it is very easy to encrypt data and yet leave it vulnerable to random hackers; just saying that you “use military-grade encryption” tells the user nothing - leaving us to rely upon Choice to check this stuff.
  • Versioning. One of the prime reasons for an online backup is to escape the vicious threat of ransomware. Versioning is vital to this, and so needs to be clearly identified in the up-front comparison
  • Phone/tablet app availability. It is increasingly common for one to be able to share files between computer and mobile device, so it is important that the buyer know whether this is an available option - as well as whether one might manage one’s backup from the phone.

I must also admit to being extremely surprised at the rankings Choice produced in its comparison, as they do not look anything like any other comparison I have seen. When one can buy 1TB of Zoolz for a lifetime for US$50 struck me as… shocking? Zoolz also looks (or rather looked - I have just revisited the website and it has changed enormously) very much like a ‘roll-your-own backup company’, with website design and other indicators that are (were) strikingly generic. (I just noticed that Zoolz apps on Android’s Play store are from Genie9 - suggesting that Zoolz is owned by a pretty large player; not sure when they were bought, though. And a shot of its PC app looks very familiar to users of Genie Timeline.)

Can Choice please remove CrashPlan from its list of online backup providers for consumers?

Finally, should Choice separate the “unlimited data” from “limited data” backup options? there is an enormous difference between the 50gb limit of SOS Online Backup Personal, and 1TB, and “everything”.

Thanks Choice :slight_smile: . Oh, and thanks in advance to those respondents who wish to send bouquets and brickbats to their own cloud backup providers.

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Hi @postulative, glad the review was useful to you and thanks for the detailed feedback. I’ll be sure to pass it onto @SteveDuncombe who manages this test.

We appreciate your feelings about Crashplan too, but typically we would not remove a company from testing. As much as possible, we aim to review as many products or services in a particular category as possible so that consumers can access a full market review. Of course, any performance issues may effect our rankings or results. It might be worth starting a seperate thread to share your experience with Crashplan to see if others have come across any similar issues.

@BrendanMays My personal feelings about Crashplan have nothing to do with my recommendation that it be removed from the review. The reason it should no longer be listed as a provider of personal online backup is that the company is getting out of this business! I, along with every other Crashplan user, have been told to move - either to Crashplan’s business offerings, or to another provider.

It’s like listing Microsoft as a digital music retailer. (Too soon?)

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Ah, I see. Apologies, I didn’t realise this was the case. I’ve flagged this internally, so we can make the update. Thanks again :thumbsup:

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Have to love it when companies work out its easier to be a wholesaler than deal with end users - sorry we are getting out of the consumer business because it has those pesky things called ‘customers’.

I’d be avoiding any of their business customer re-sellers as well. The attitude negates a lot I feel …

Personally I like Google Drive - especially given its fully indexed and backed up by numerous foreign countries including China and Russia :wink: getting a restore might be tricky, but worry about that later like most people?!

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We’ve updated our Cloud back-up review for 2019 (member content).

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Zoolz always have deals. I am constantly getting messages about them. As an example currently they are offering 3 TB (1.5 TB in Vault & 1.5 TB in Cold Storage) for $128 for lifetime, 1 TB for around $70 (500 GB Vault ie fast retrieval & 500 GB Cold Storage ie delayed retrieval of around 3-4 hours) and 2 TB for around $90 (1 TB Vault & 1 TB Cold Storage). All the quoted plans like the 3 TB on offer are lifetime plans ie one off payments.

I have not used them and I am unlikely to but if someone was interested then pricing deals are very likely to be found. They use Amazon AWS Global infrastructure for their storage system. They have been around for awhile so I don’t think they will disappear in any hurry but having said that nothing is ever certain except death and maybe taxes :wink: .

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I am surprised that Choice didn’t also look at the cloud systems which are bundled with some Internet security software suites. As Choice recommends these security packages, and one may make a purchase based on the effectiveness of the security package, one may also have the added benefit of bundled cloud storage.

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Yes, but…

I strongly suspect that Zoolz and Degoo are the same company. I paid money for the latter a couple of years ago, and there was absolutely no indication of if/how my files would be encrypted (they do claim everything’s encrypted, and on AWS it would be - but there was no evidence to say it would be encrypted in transit). I asked the company, received no response, and uninstalled the software.

In fact, @BrendanMays, I suggest that security of one’s personal files should be a key factor in these reviews. Was CHOICE able to confirm that all the reviewed products provided encryption in transit? If not, you may wish to consider how the products are reviewed in future.

Another suggestion: while it is included in the drill-down (as “Keeps multiple file versions”), I suggest that given the widespread use of ransomware that encrypts files this should also be on the front page checklist.

These may provide cloud storage, but that is very different to cloud backup.

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From their pages on Zoolz it would appear that they encrypt at both ends and during transfer:
"Secure

With 3 levels of encryption; 256 AES on machine, for data transfer, and server side encryption, Zoolz surpasses data compliance rules and regulations"

Also from their wiki page https://wiki.zoolz.com/how-secure-is-zoolz/ “Zoolz uses modern encryption methods to both transfer and store your data” and if you would like to read their whitepaper on it you can access it from:
https://cdn.zoolz.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/10/Zoolz_Security_Whitepaper.pdf

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Claims and evidence are two very different things. Unless the company has a proven track record or can show how they encrypt my data, they’re not getting their hands on it. In the case of Degoo, I think they make much the same claims as Zoolz but there was no evidence in the software they provided to support their claims of encryption. In particular, I was not given the option to password-protect my files. That’s a problem.

Some provide cloud backup services similar to the sole commercial ones. Some security suites provide a storage capacity (e.g. 25GB with Norton) which is possibly enough for some domestic punters that want to backup some documents and photos. If 25GB is enough and already included in the software suite, it is cost effective if one is already purchasing the suite for its security benefits.

25GB won’t be enough for many other domestic punters or for SMEs or bigger. More can be bought where additional backup capacity is required…but through the internet security company is generally pricy compared to many other providers. This is where possibly other offerings would provide a more cost effective solution.

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Ok I took up a 14 day trial to see what settings they have and Zoolz do indeed have encryption either your choice of passphrase or you can use their one. This is a required step when setting up the program. They are also a UK based company and Degoo are a Swedish business. I think you may indeed have two distinct entities.

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My bad - they appear to have very similar business models.

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NP at all, as I had never used either I just took a Zoolz freebie to see what it was like. Once you have set the encryption passphrase or accepted that you use theirs there is no option to change it after (obviously changing passphrases can make accessing previously encrypted content hard or impossible). It would be a nice addition to be able to do so particularly if you deleted any previous content and started afresh (I have sent feedback to that effect). You can certainly change your account access password though.

The software you install on your system also allows you to use SSL (port 443) as the transport but as the data is encrypted standard http would probably be as acceptable to many. I chose SSL and watched the traffic and Zoolz indeed used port 443 and it was encrypted packets. As I used their encryption key I would, if I intended to continue using it, first encrypt data myself before their encryption but that is just my obsessive behaviour.

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Cloud Data storage services.

In reading the reviews of recommended Cloud Backup services, Choice has not rated the alternate option to use a general cloud service. There is a discussion of some of the pros and cons in the Choice general buying guide and a link to the Choice review of some of these services. EG DropBox.

The option to save backup sets created using the built in Windows tools to DropBox may also suit many users. The Choice review of DropBox and similar smart sync services such as iCoud is from 2016. Perhaps this could have been updated at the same time as the current reviews to provide a more inclusive set of recommendations/options.

The real limitation to practical use of any of these options is as Choice points out in the review notes upload speed over the internet. For us typically 250MB/h all going well? In which instance there is little practical use for large amounts of offsite data storage.

P.S.
We use the integrated Norton Backup that comes as a free add in with Norton Security. Once setup it is a great way to avoid having to intrude and manage my partners laptop. One less job to do for me and more respectful.

We also backup separately at home to removable storage. Acronis for full disk imaging and Norton for incremental backups.

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Stacksocial has a lifetime special on Degoo if that was tweaking anyone’s fancy. Also a reduced price on Zoolz. I had never heard of either so am not really interested (in any case, would prefer to do local storage rather than cloud)

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In my dreams. But that order of magnitude.

That depends. If you are prepared to take a very long time to get going initially (initial upload of everything) and thereafter only send updated files and particularly if there is “versioning” so that multiple versions of files are stored then you could end up with a requirement for a large amount.

That depends on what “the data” is. Well OK regardless it would be acceptable to many but in terms of whether it ought to be acceptable at all, it depends on what “the data” is.

To investigate that you would have to use unencrypted HTTP as the transport, snoop the traffic and see what parts of the HTTP payload are

  • client-side encrypted file content
  • client-side encrypted something else e.g. file metadata, including file name
  • unencrypted anything

Whether any given provider even documents the process to that level of detail, I don’t know but documentation would help to build confidence and allow easy verification.

I myself wouldn’t trust any provider unless the client-side software is open source. However my internet is too slow to use for routine backup anyway.

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And if your house burns down?

The generally accepted rule, which is something I have mentioned before on this site, is 3-2-1.

3 backups
2 different formats
1 offsite

There is free backup software that will allow you to back up to a family member’s computer - just make sure their home is not in the same neighbourhood.

And yes, I got Degoo from StackSocial - not recommended unless they have greatly improved their software.

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Yes, I know all that. All the tech forums I go to say the same thing. But its overkill for someone who has no “mission critical” stuff on computer. I get why people in business would be mad not to have multiple backups in multiple locations… for me, its really not necessary.

I’m planning on taking a “pro” Flickr and using that for storage of some of my photos, as well as display. If my house burns down I have much more to worry about than what I lost from computer.

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