File Catalyst says an average HD movie can be 8 to 15 GB, and a Blu-ray movie 20 to 25 GB. If you have downloaded a collection of movies to your home computer, you’ll want to make sure they’re safe. Cloud backup has become a popular way to backup files. When you’re ready to find the best cloud backup service for your entertainment collection, make sure you ask the right questions.

Understand the Pricing

You’ll need to read the fine print of most cloud backup services to get to the precise pricing information. Some services offer unlimited gigabytes from one computer for a set price, with that price increasing with each computer you add. Other services offer backups of unlimited computers with a cap on the gigabytes, while the price increases as you need more storage. Your analysis of prices needs be clear and objective in order to find the best deal for you. No comparing apples to oranges.

How many computers do you need to backup? How many files do you need to backup? What is the approximate size of all of these files? How often do you need to backup them up? Decide what your backup needs are, and then determine the price of each service, as PC Mag suggests. That’s the way to compare apples to apples when it comes to cloud backup options.

What Does “Unlimited” Mean?

Many cloud services offer “unlimited” something or other, as a way to get business. Bandwidth, storage, or number of computers to backup are the typical “unlimited” resources vendors offer. Information Week investigated that claim and discovered that vendors reserved the right to change what unlimited means for specific customers if they believed the customer was misusing the privilege.

One vendor stated that the backup speed was lowered after a certain threshold was reached–in this case 200GBs. In another case cited by Forbes, the backup of a photographer’s files had not yet completed after days of uploading to a cloud vendor, due to the throttling down of upload speed after a certain data volume had completed. Read the fine print, again, to make sure you find out what the limits are to a service’s “unlimited” options.

How Secure is Your Data?

Determine how your data is stored with the cloud vendor. Cloud services manage online backup files in different ways. They may be encrypted, or not. They may use shared servers, meaning your data resides on a disk with the data of companies. You may have an option to choose a virtual server which carves out a chunk of space on a disk that is all yours. You still share the disk but your space is pre-defined. Service providers such as MyHosting offer virtual servers with the same options as the shared servers. You’ll see no difference in how a virtual server supports your site versus a shared server. However, you will be more secure.

The most expensive option is a private server, which gives you your own physical device for backup. This is what a small business chooses if they store highly sensitive information such as government files, financial data or personal medical information. This type of information is regulated and requires private servers for added security.

What Other Options Are Available?

Will you have access to your files in the cloud from a mobile device such as your smartphone or tablet? Some services provide an app to control your backups and restore operations. Some throw in the ability to backup your mobile device files, such as your contacts or calendar.

Do they offer folder syncing? This lets you specify a folder on your PC or mobile device that automatically syncs with a corresponding folder in the cloud whenever you add or change files in it. This is handy for keeping frequently accessed files backed up each time you update them.

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