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Top 5: Online backup services for your Mac

Backing up your Mac has never been easier thanks to cloud-based systems like Mozy and Carbonite, but which is best? Here's our top five choice for online backup.

Time Machine and Time Capsule might make for an easy way to keep your Mac Backed up, but it’s not without its flaws. If you’ve got a portable machine like a MacBook Pro or MacBook Air, constantly connecting up your external hard drive to back up via Time Machine is a pain to say the least and, if you’re constantly on the move, the chances of you staying at home long enough for your Time Capsule to capture the contents of your machine are quite thin (unless, of course, you’re running a Power Nap capable model). Thankfully, though, there’s a solution that’ll ensure you’re constantly backing up with very little thought on your part – cloud-based, online backups.

There are plenty of online backup services out there that, for a small fee, will continuously back up your Mac’s documents and data to their servers and allow you to restore everything should the worst happen. Here’s five of the best services out there, they’re not all to dissimilar on the surface, but there’s enough between them to make choosing the perfect service for your backup needs and important to choice. Enjoy!

Livedrive backup

1. Livedrive (£4.95/$7.95 per month – livedrive.com)

Livedrive’s Backup package allows you to back up an unlimited amount of data from a single machine to their servers. Everything’s encrypted once it gets there and you can restore your data with a single-click should anything happen to your beloved Mac. What sets Livedrive out from the competition is its mobile apps which allow you to view any backed up file from your iPhone or iPad, ideal if your Mac gets lost or stolen and you need to refer to that all-important PDF or TextEdit document.

Although Livedrive does claim to back up all of your files, it’s not specific about system data and other areas which most backup providers ignore in order to create a quicker backup and restore process. Likewise, it doesn’t appear to offer any seeding or USB thumb drive/hard drive restore services that some of its competitors are keen to show off. That said, there’s no denying that, for less than £5/$8 per month, having your Mac’s data safely backed up without any effort on your part is still a great offer.

Backblaze backup

2. Backblaze ($5 per month – backblaze.com)

Unlike some of its competitors, Backblaze offers just one service – unlimited backup for all of your data stored on your Mac and external hard drives (except for OS X itself, your apps and any temporary internet files – all of which can be easily restored through other means). It’s simple enough and starts at $5 per month (or less, if you opt to pay for one or two years in advance) and installs natively as a Preference Pane in System Preferences. Backblaze is an always-on backup service, so any changes you make to your system or logged almost immediately with deleted files being kept in the cloud for 30 days after they’ve been sent to the Trash on your Mac. This last detail is incredibly useful, as it essentially means you’ve got a month to ensure that song you accidentally deleted is restored.

One of Backblaze’s best features is the option to have your backup sent to you as a Zip file over the air, or as a USB thumb drive or Hard Drive via FedEx. Charges apply to the latter two options here, but it may well be a quicker way of restoring your system if you’re not blessed with a speedy internet connection.

Crashplan backup

3. CrashPlan+ ($3.00 per month – crashplan.com)

CrashPlan is certainly one of the more prominent online backup services out there and it’s not hard to see why. Along with the standard, always-on unlimited backup service that comes with a CrashPlan+ account, your $3.00 per month also gets you a scheduled backup service and the ability to back up to an external hard drive or another Mac (even one that’s not in the same building – such as one at a friend or family member’s house). It’s a pretty comprehensive service, especially with extra backup options ensuring that your data is in a few different places, and when you add in the ability to both create your initial back and future restores using an external hard drive, it’s not hard to see why this is one of the most-used services around.

One of Crashplan’s standout features is that your files are never deleted, making it easy to find an age-old deleted file that’s somehow become top of your most wanted list once again.

Carbonite backup

4. Carbonite ($59 per year – carbonite.com)

$59 per year will get you Carbonite’s most basic backup plan, but even that contains a pretty well-stocked set of features. As well as unlimited storage space for all of your files and folders (but not your entire operating system), Carbonite gives you access to your backups from online and via its set of iOS apps. Weirdly, if you want to back up any more than just your documents, music and movies, you’re out of luck as Carbonite’s more advanced plans aren’t available for OS X. All in all, this certainly isn’t as fully-featured as some of the other options available here, but given Carbonite’s size and stature, it’s still a worthy option in this top five.

Mozy backup

5. Mozy (£4.99 per month – mozy.co.uk)

Mozy’s backup plans might well sport a competitive set of features, alongside the fact that they’re one of the long-standing online backup services with a fair amount of trust to show for it, but where they do let themselves down somewhat with their storage limitations. Where the rest of the services in this top five offer an unlimited deal, Mozy offers just 50GB of space for your backups. In reality, this is probably enough for most users so it’s less of a concern if you’re not saving thousands of photos each month, but it would’ve been nice to see them offer an unlimited option like their competitors. It’s also worth noting that an additional 20GB of space will set you back just £.175 per month extra, giving you a total of 70GB storage for just £6.74 in total. Again, it’s probably going to be enough for most Mac users, but the comfort of unlimited storage is a slight issue.

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