Online External Hard Drive Back Up Services: Can You Recommend One?

Basically, just what the title says.

My mother’s finally gotten around to replacing her old computer. Before she kisses the old one good bye she’d like to be able to transfer her old data to her new computer.

Normally, I’d just make a complete back up via her external HD, and that would be that.

Alas one of the (many) reasons we knew it was time to replace the old computer was that the USB hub controller died. None of the USB hubs are working, and replacing the drivers has done nothing for me.

However, the machine can still connect, via cable modem, to the internet. I am inclined to simply sign up for a month’s service of HD back up, and upload the contents of the computer to the service, install the new computer, download the contents from the online back up, then delete the account. (Once a new back up has been run with the external HD.)

So, the questions I’ve got would be: Does anyone see a flaw in this plan? And what services would people recommend. I can find a list via Google easily. Finding a feedback site that gives useful feedback is harder, so I’m asking the Teeming Millions, first.

How much stuff does she have? Would packing it into ZIP files and emailing them be practical?

Plan B: Get a cheap internal CD-R drive and burn her files to CD. You can pick one up for $20. Or splurge - $25 will get you a DVD burner. Then, you can install it into the new PC. If her new PC has a DC or DVD burner in it already, you can probably just “borrow” it to copy her files.

How much data?

You might try

gotpasswords, AIUI for $25, we’re approaching the cost for a month’s service for the online back up. And I don’t have to do any work - putting things in or taking them out.

Actually, Mozy online backs up 2GB free and then charges $4.95 a month for unlimited space. We’ve already got CD-RW capability, but at 70-80 MB max per disc, I think that being able to back up all at once would be easier.

ETA: And, yeah, I’ve got get a detailed count of all that needs to be backed up. I suspect it’s on the order of 10 GB +/- 75%, but I can’t swear, right now. She’s been procrastinating on cleaning out what she needs and doesn’t need.

It’s actually 650-700 MB for a CD.

You seem to have quite a bit of ‘fudge factor’ in your data estimate there. If the actual size is near the low end, burning it all to CD will almost certainly be the easiest. If it’s near the high estimate, that’s another story.

A couple other factors to consider:

How fast is your mother’s Internet connection? If you have 15 GB worth of data to transfer, you’re talking 30 GB of data to move. Over a 1 Mb/sec DSL line, my back-of-the-envelope calculation say that’s 68 hours to transfer the data. That same 15 GB should take less than 6 hours to burn to CD and read back.

Does she have any sort of bandwidth cap? If so, transferring that much data might be rather costly.

Any reason why you can’t set up the new computer next to the old one and transfer the files over a network? You could borrow a router from someone, if you don’t have one available.

You could also set up a FTP server on your own computer, and upload everything from your mom’s PC to yours, then download it once the new PC is up and running.

For online backup:
I love Syncplicitylots for its utter, well, sync-plicity. And if you use invite code HJGALR2Q, we both get some free bonus space :slight_smile:

However, if it’s just a one-time thing, Jungle Disk might be cheaper – it charges by the gigabyte, and for 10 gigs, it’s roughly half the price of Syncplicity. It should also be faster since it uses’s blazing-fast S3 hosting service.

As others have pointed out, doing this over the Internet is horribly inefficient. It will take forever and may also be costly if your ISP charges you by amount of data transferred. And even if you subscribe to “unlimited” Internet, a lot of ISPs have fine-print transfer limits and a 10 GB+ upload in such a short period of time MAY cause them to warn you for bandwidth overuse.

Alternatives? Besides the ones already mentioned, you could also:

  • Move your hard drive from the old computer to the new one as a secondary, then copy all the files over and take it back out. Or heck, leave it in the new computer to use as a additional space/a backup drive.

  • Get what’s called a “crossover cable” if you can’t find a router or hub. It’s a special type of network cable that’ll let you connect two computers directly through their network ports without additional hardware in between. The cable should cost no more than $5 to $10 from “good” computer stores, meaning NOT BestBuy or CircuitCity. Then again, a hub or router might be less than that (or even free) on Craigslist or Freecycle. Once you set up the connection, you can use FTP or Windows File Sharing to send the files over.

I use Mozy as my online backup. And while it runs fine now since it only backs up what has changed on my computer–the initial backup took a long time—A LONG TIME! I wasn’t expecting that. So you can do it that way, but be prepared to be backing up and then transferring for awhile.

If it was me-I would try and find another way.

A 4-port USB card is very cheap. Buy one, plug it into the old PC, plug the external HDD into the card and away you go.

I agree with this, I use Mozy, and to upload my 40GB or so took, IIRC, weeks. A decent solution for offline backups, but not for what the OP wants probably.

I’d like to thank everyone for their replies. I’m reading them all. (Mostly while I cringe, but that’s not any poster’s fault.) I’m beginning to think that I’ve been overthinking all of this.

If there is a rail and power available, why couldn’t I simply take the harddrive from the old machine out, and put it into the new machine as a supplemental drive?

Because new machines from first tier manufacturers (Dell, HP, etc) may not have PATA connectors. Of course, you could put the old HDD into an external caddy.

I figured that would be too easy. :wink:

That’s a great idea! Somebody should’ve thought of that earlier.

j/k :smiley:

Hell, I have a crossover cable that I will likely never need again. You want it? Email me your address and I will ship it out Monday.

Why not just buy an hard drive casing. I got one for $20.00. Then pop the old hard drive out of the computer. Pop the hard drive into the case, then connect the hard drive case to the new computer via the USB on the new computer.

Then you transfer files AND you got an entire new hard drive to store things on. Or just return the casing and it cost you nothing.

I was going to come in here to suggest this. It’s probably your quickest, easiest, and least costly solution. Except for the crossover cable, maybe, but then you have to set up the network and file sharing and…

Plus, after it’s all over you’ve got a cool external hard drive.