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The hidden cost of unlimited storage

If you’re in the market looking for online backup you’re probably inundated with offers of unlimited storage, which seems very appealing, and you may be having a tough time choosing the ideal storage solution for you.

So, I hear you ask why is it that some online backup companies offer unlimited storage and others cap their storage space to as low as 50GB? And isn’t unlimited online backup the natural choice for everyone?

Well one thing I’ve learn pretty early on in the digital world, is that unlimited rarely means unlimited. I’ve had web hosts pull the plug on my websites plenty of times for going past the “fair use” policy to know that there’s always a catch with anything unlimited.

Is unlimited storage space sustainable?

Way back in early 2011, Mozy caused a ruckus in the tech world when it withdrew its unlimited storage plans and introduced a 50GB cap, with a tiered price plan for going above that limit. Mozy at one time was the market leader in unlimited storage space and caused many services to follow suit to match the unlimited plans, and for many industry leaders the unlimited plan was the benchmark for all to follow.

Since the withdrawal, users have been flocking to the next leader in unlimited storage, Carbonite has been making headways in online radio station like Pandora, for being the favourite online backup service for music lovers, due to its unlimited storage space. So if Carbonite can do it, why can’t Mozy?

The devil is in the detail, because Mozy allowed users to use unlimited storage for unlimited number of devices, Carbonite [at the time of writing] only allows the backup of one computer per account. In addition to that you may find that after a certain limit [35GB and 200GB at the time of writing] your bandwidth gets limited. One can only assume that this measure is in place to prevent the extreme users from clogging up the servers.

This is not a sleight against Carbonite, all “unlimited” storage services have some catch in place to stifle “heavy” users.

Why do some backup providers offer a comparatively low 50GB of storage space?

Different backup providers and designed to work differently based on different user needs. SugarSync offers a mere 30GB for its smallest paid backup plan [although the 60GB account is the most common], although that sounds small, in terms of total data transfer it’s actually huge.

SugarSync is built as a synchronisation service, primarily. To allow users to sync their laptops, desktops and their smartphones together, so the SugarSync manager is working constantly and monitoring every change you make, and as soon as you press save the new file is uploaded onto the server, to be downloaded immediately when you start up your other computer. If you’re working on a long document you could save that file 20 times a day, so SugarSync will keep uploading that file each time.

Contrast that with Carbonite which is designed for a single computer, to make scheduled backups on a daily basis, there will be far fewer file transfers being made, and therefore Carbonite can be generous and allow you to upload as much as you want onto the unlimited storage service.

So which is the best service?

With all that in mind, you may be asking so which is best, an unlimited plan like Carbonite or a more proactive service like SugarSync, it entirely depends on your usage. You need to assess your needs, and different users will have different requirements.

Read up the online backup reviews page for comparison charts and index for all the reviews.

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