Free vs. Paid Online Backup Services – Which is Right for You?

As the saying goes, ‘if it’s free, then what is it worth?’ However, on the web, companies may have different reasons for offering a basic yet functional online backup service for free. They may for instance want to build customer loyalty for another service, and add online backup as a free bonus to people already using the first service. Or it may be part of their marketing strategy to attract people with the entry-level free service, with the aim of persuading them (but not obliging them) to upgrade to a paying version with more functionality later.

What Do You Need?

If your budget for online backup is very limited or zero, then free services may be the only option for you. However, in general it’s better to start off by defining the sort of online backup you want (storage space, performance, and storage/restore functionality, for example). Then compare with different offers. If it turns out that there are two services that meet your needs equally well, one service being free and the other one at a cost, then the free service may be the one to choose. And yet…

Is there a Catch?

Sometimes free offers have conditions attached. You may be asked if you will accept advertising messages from the provider and its business partners. It’s not impossible that the free version of a service offers lower performance than the paid version for upload and download speeds for example. Online service providers may be using technology that allows them to vary the quality of service according to whether or not the user is paying for it.

Mixing and Matching

In some cases, users may be able to use free online storage and backup services from different providers, so as to stay within different limits on storage space and to avoid using bandwidth on any one service to an extent that would cause performance to be penalized. While individual users may try to do this for their own personal requirements, businesses often simply have better things to do with their time. In this case, paying a modest monthly subscription for an all-in-one solution with appropriate functionality may be more advantageous.

Free Trials

Much of the usefulness of online backup comes from the fact that it routinely backs up files on an ongoing basis. A free trial for a paid service is typically time-limited; afterwards you have to pay if you want to continue. Some providers may ask you for your credit card details first and then automatically bill you for usage once the trial period is over. Whatever their sales approach, be aware that it costs money to offer an online backup service and the provider needs to cover its costs one way or another. So be mindful that a free trial is just that, a trial, and that at some point, you will have to pay up or switch to another provider’s free trial.

A Business Point of View

For many companies, business success is best achieved by focusing on their special skills or products, and letting other specialists provide them with services to help them run the rest of their activities. Online backup is no exception: it often makes more sense for a business to pay for a service that has good support, rather than waste time struggling with a lower-cost or free service where they must sort out problems by themselves.

It’s Not How Much You Pay, It’s What You Get

Once again, the key thing is to first know what you want out of an online backup service and to make your shortlist of solutions on that basis. With a few well-chosen candidates in mind, you can then compare them and pick the one that suits you best, whether it’s a free or a paid service.