This article originally published in the ZDNet blog Between the Lines.
One of the best parts of keeping your data in the cloud is that you don't have to worry quite as much about doing your own backups. If your computer crashes or your hard drive dies, you won't lose all of the messages from your Gmail account or all of the photos you saved to Flickr.
Nevertheless, trusting lots of private data to a third-party provider on the Web still rattles some users and companies, especially when that valuable data is stored in a free service that has no service level agreement (SLA). There have already been horror stories of Gmail accidentally deleting inboxes as well as user accounts getting hacked and the inboxes getting wiped clean.
That's where Backupify hopes to fill a new niche by offering user backups of online accounts. Here are the services that Backupify can currently back up:
- Google Docs
Backupify is also in the process of adding YouTube and Linkedin backups, and plans to launch additional services in the future.
The company's public launch was in June. It went live with a tiered payment system. It allowed you to back up your Twitter account for free to try out the service but then offered various levels of storage for a monthly fee to do other online accounts from their list.
Backupify president Rob May has now announced that Backupify will back up all online accounts for free and with unlimited storage. The offer will be open until January 31, 2010. The move is an attempt to attract at lot more users. May noted that storage is cheap while customer acquisition is very expensive, and so he and the company want to give more users a chance to try out the full service.
In 2010 Backupify will announce its new pricing structure for the masses, which May said will likely move to a "freemium" model, with a free account that handles a basic amount of storage and then tiered pricing if you need more space. However, those who sign up during this trial will get an open-ended free account for getting in early.
"If you sign up during this time period, you get unlimited storage, for free. You get an account that is not a free trial, not free for a limited time, free forever," stated May.
Backupify currently has about 3000 subscribers and is adding about 400 users per week. Opening up the entire service for free will likely stimulate user growth and May says that he and his 11-member team are prepared to handle it since the company relies on Amazon's scalable AWS and S3 services as its backend platform.
May said Twitter is the most popular service that it backs up, followed by Gmail, and then Flickr. Backupify will be showing off all of the services that it can backup at CES 2010 in Las Vegas on January 7-10, when the company will be exhibiting in the Intel booth as part of Intel's launch of a new app store for netbooks. Backupify will be one of the featured apps.
One of the coolest features that Backupify offers is the ability to export your entire Twitter account (status updates, mentions, direct messages, and more) to a PDF. This is especially useful since Twitter doesn't have an archive feature that allows you to go back and look at your old data.
One drawback to Backupify is that it cannot do an automatic restore. It simply gives you a private copy of your data. That leads me to the other drawback. Since Backupify is grabbing your data through APIs and HTML scraping, your backup files are all in XML format (except for the Twitter PDF), which can be a little intimidating to sort through for some users.
That said, there is definitely a peace of mind involved in having a copy of your valuable Web data and storing it in an online vault that you can control. This is an idea with very good timing and so far the execution looks pretty good in my tests with Twitter, Gmail, Facebook, and Flickr.
As May put it, "It's about data liberation. My data is everywhere. I just want to be able to control it."
Jason Hiner has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Jason Hiner is Global Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Global Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about how technology is changing the way we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.