CrashPlan is our favorite backup tool for Windows, for the Mac, and we've even shown you how to build a bulletproof backup solution with it. CrashPlan gives you the flexibility to back up any folders you select on your computer (or whole drives, if you prefer) to external hard drives, other computers on the same network, a friend's computer across the internet, or online to CrashPlan's own servers, where it's stored and encrypted to keep your data safe. The backup utility is set-it-and-forget-it, and it runs quietly in the background whenever you're away from your computer, or at specified times of day. It's smart enough to only do differentials and incrementals, and supports multiple backup destinations so you can back everything up at one time everywhere it needs to go. Restores are just as easy, and a few clicks drops all of your files right back where they should be. You even get access to your backup data on your mobile devices. If you have a ton of data to back up or restore, you can even have CrashPlan send an external hard drive to your house that you can back up to and use to seed your first backups or restore from, all without blowing past your ISP's bandwidth limitations. You can read more about CrashPlan's features here.

There are a few common practices for configuring when backups occur. The most common option is on a fixed schedule, such as once a day, week, or month. The second, which we prefer, is to upload file changes whenever they're changed and saved, otherwise known as a continuous backup setting. Services only transfer the modified part of the file in this scenario, so as not to overburden your internet connection or take up unnecessary storage. A third way is simply to upload files manually. Some may appreciate this degree of control, but this method is only effective if you remember to regularly run the backup.
Real time: Real-time backup means that files are backed up whenever they change, usually upon creation or save. It’s also called mirroring and is handy for keeping an immediately available copy of rapidly changing data sets. For less volatile data sets, the payoff doesn’t compensate for the drain on system resources. Instead, scheduling should be used.
Real time: Real-time backup means that files are backed up whenever they change, usually upon creation or save. It’s also called mirroring and is handy for keeping an immediately available copy of rapidly changing data sets. For less volatile data sets, the payoff doesn’t compensate for the drain on system resources. Instead, scheduling should be used.
One of the biggest advantages of using an online backup service is that it lets you access your files from anywhere. Most online backup providers let you view and download files from a web browser, but that should be the bare minimum. Many also include file-sharing options, the best of which even let you specify a password for access and an expiration date for the shared item.
Most services encrypt your files with strong systems such as AES 256 before sending them up to the servers over an encrypted connection. The majority of products we tested also offer a private encryption key option. If you choose to manage your own encryption keys (basically the "key" that decrypts your backup), know that it is your responsibility to remember it. The online backup service itself will not be able to help you reset the password if you forget it. On the flip side, this means that no one (including employees of the backup service and law enforcement officials) other than you can unlock your backups. This is ideal from a privacy and security standpoint. Use a password manager to keep track of your private encryption key if you think you will forget it.
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