Online Backups Save Up-Front Hardware Costs

If you still haven't built a backup plan because of hardware costs, shirk those fees, and focus on an online service. You'll pay a monthly fee instead of hundreds or thousands of dollars up front, scaling up service across as many systems as you need.

One backup service, MozyPro, offers a few features aimed at small businesses. Like most services, Mozy automatically encrypts data and transfers it over a secure connection. After you make the initial upload, it'll monitor for changes, building incremental backups to save upload time. And it'll work on Windows and Mac operating systems, including Windows servers.

Businesses with little--or no--IT support will appreciate the console to control backups across many networked computers. You'll schedule backups on an interval that makes sense for your business. You can even throttle the upload bandwidth so that you don't slow down other online work.

MozyPro costs $3.95/month for each client computer. (Licenses to back up your servers cost $6.95/month.) Since Mozy handles everything, you'll also pay $.50/GB each month to store all of the data.

For best results, you should also have a local backup to quickly restore lost files. An offsite service is great in case of a major disaster, for general convenience, and for cost savings. But it could take a long time to download everything again. At least Mozy offers to ship your data on DVD to rebuild after a substantial crash.

Zack Stern is building a new business from San Francisco, where he frequently contributes to PC World.

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