Can you trust your online backup service?

While having lots of digital storage space at your physical location may be cheap nowadays, it’s also very useful to have offsite backups – not only in the event of a major natural disaster or theft, but also because it’s great to be able to access it while on the road.

If you search Google for online backup services, you get many results from companies all over the world. But, setting all the shiny advertisements aside, how secure are your files with these providers?

Let’s take Mozy as an example. As one of the most well-known online backup services, owned by giant EMC, Mozy is backed by a marketing strategy that (naturally) emphasizes the utmost importance of backup and how Mozy can help you achieve piece of mind.

The problem is, it seems that no one bothers reading their Terms of Service. There’s one line that not only doesn’t promise any piece of mind whatsoever. Here’s the excerpt from their terms:

Mozy reserves the right at any time to modify, suspend, or discontinue providing the Service, in whole or in part, without notice.

In contrast to Mozy, SpiderOak doesn’t give itself the right to delete your data immediately and for any reason. They even have a reasonable way of dealing with users who have possibly violated any of the terms:

If, in using the SpiderOak Plus service you are deemed to have violated the policies set forth above in this Agreement, SpiderOak reserves the right to freeze your account immediately, and shall provide you with written notice via email of your violation so that you may respond to such determination within thirty (30) days.

Backblaze‘s terms are not as clear cut as Mozy’s but still leave a lot to be desired:

Backblaze reserves the right to terminate or suspend accounts of users who violate these Terms of Service or who Backblaze deems, in its sole discretion, to be “abusers.” Such users may be notified prior to suspension or termination of their accounts; however, Backblaze is not required to provide prior notice.

So, you may or may not be an abuser, and you may or may not receive notice of your service being interrupted. Just brilliant.

SOS Online Backup also doesn’t want any responsibility when it comes to your data:

We may alter, suspend or discontinue (in whole or in part) the Site or your access to use the Site at any time for any reason (or no reason) without any notice or liability whatsoever to you or to any third party.

Does ADrive inspire confidence? Sadly, no:

ADrive reserves the right to change, suspend or discontinue all or any aspect of its services made available to You or others at any time, including the availability of any feature, Storage Data, without prior notice or liability to You.

Now, let’s say all you need is a free account for storing just a few GB of your most essential data. While signing up for SugarSync, you might be also signing up for a false sense of security since their ToS states:

For Free Accounts, storage space, bandwidth availability, and account features may be limited, modified or suspended, and the Free Account may be terminated, by SugarSync at any time at its sole discretion without notice or liability to you.

It’s understandable that companies need to attach strong disclaimers to their services in order to avoid lawsuits. However, I believe a company that I’m paying for backup should not be able to cancel my account or turn off its servers if they just feel like it.

Have you read the terms of your backup provider? You might not be as secure as you thought.

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