Filecrate Remote File Backup Review

Reviewed by: Mark Goldstein, February 2010
Published by: FileKrate Inc.
Requires: An active Internet connection (any speed), and any
Windows PC or Apple Mac OSX computer running a recent
version of Microsoft Internet Explorer, Apple Safari, Mozilla
Firefox, Opera, Maxthon or any other popular browser

MSRP: $24 per year (minimum), high capacity plans available

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In the annals of home and business computing, few issues have drawn more fire or generate more hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth than the problem of backups. "Do Your Backups!" chant all of the pundits, security experts and business advisers. "The portable hard drive sitting on your desk being occasionally used for backups might as well not even exist!" they admonish. "If a CD or DVD backup of important documents and other files is sitting in a drawer right next to the PC or Mac in a room that has been flooded, well, you don't really have a backup now do you?" they say. They're all correct. In the days when backing up important files — produced with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, WordPerfect, OpenOffice, etc. — was a hassle, problems were rife. Tape drives produced corrupted backups more often than not. The endless amount of time needed to laboriously swap DVDs out of the drive during a backup burn is another time pit. External USB hard drives which suddenly disappear from the drive list in Windows and then can't be used because Windows Backup utility can't find them, are an even bigger time waster. We start out every six months or so to "get back into the backup habit" in order to safeguard important files from the inevitable disaster inherent in Windows and Mac PC use: hard drives fail and computers burn out. Somehow, after a while, regular backups are no longer getting done. The advent and prevalence of high speed Internet access almost everywhere in the world has created an easy way for us to backup, protect and restore important files whenever necessary, and most important, without having to think about it much less actually worry about it. Remote file backup software — literally, a backup utility which continuously copies all new files in the folders you've previously selected to a remote location at a secure data center — is the solution we've needed for years. Filecrate Remote File Backup is the latest product.

Filecrate is a simple, small utility with which you can make backup magic. The utility downloads and installs quickly on almost any Windows desktop, laptop, netbook or server, and on almost any Mac OS X laptop, desktop and mini. After installation, it's a simple matter to select for backup the document folders into which you normally save important files. After that, Filecrate simply goes about its business in the background, never using enough CPU cycles or RAM to interrupt or slow down any of your work on the computer. Filecrate is account-dependent, which means that once you've set up your user name, password and credit card, you can then use that same logon to install the Filecrate utility on any number of other computers. It's bizarre that no other remote file backup product does this, but Filecrate seems to have taken the best of what other products do, and wrapped it all into a very powerful but simple to use business product.

We had a look at some competing products in order to compare Filecrate and find out what else makes it superior. There are a number of little odds & ends which set Filecrate apart including a much more powerful user interface which provides users with access to control over all of the detail in their online accounts and remote file storage. The most important thing however, is something which is often overlooked. It's called Archival Storage. Most other remote file backup products do not maintain untouchable archives — if you delete a file from your local drive or server, in 30 days (sometimes sooner) other remote file backup products will delete the backup of that file from the remote data centre. It's a scary prospect, and it's an important little detail which is poorly understood. Not so with Filecrate. It's important for two reasons. First, after a disaster (fire, flood, theft, failure of multiple computers, failure of single or multiple hard drives), it can often take a lot longer than 30 days to settle with the insurance company, bring in new hardware and get up & running again. In that time, unrestored files can be lost forever. Again, not so with Filecrate. Second, Filecrate is designed and aimed specifically at SOHO, small business and medium size business users. Anyone can use Filecrate, but business users will appreciate Filecrate's detailed online reports and status details.

The point is that Filecrate is the best product we've seen because it allows you to flawlessly automate file backups and automatically create file archives which won't be altered unless you deliberately do so. Other remote file backup products offer low-end pricing but don't provide true archiving in the bargain. As usual, you get only what you pay for. In the case of important file backups, every family and every small office/home office (SOHO) and small or medium size business should be creating true backup file archives. Filecrate is a Canadian-based product which seems ideal for Canadian businesses in any province in the country. Filecrate seems to also have a large and loyal contingent of users in the U.S. and many other parts of the world.

Sooner or later, disaster will strike. It doesn't have to be a hurricane, tsunami, earthquake, catastrophic fire, or the theft of everything in your home or office. It might be just the loss of a single hard drive on your main desktop or laptop. It might be just the loss of a single drive in your small office server or one of your enterprise servers. When the files and data are gone, they're gone. If you installed and used Filecrate, life can begin again (almost immediately too — that's important) and your work at home or your business can resume as quickly as you can get another computer going.

Cons: No product is perfect. There are lots of Filecrate configuration options — perhaps too many. Most home and small business users of Filecrate Remote File Backup will just do some sort of 'fire & forget' installation to ensure their important files are securely backed up and protected. This is not a product for home users who want to remotely backup and store hundreds or thousands of digital photos and endless gigabytes of family video footage. Of course you can backup whatever you want — Filecrate doesn't care what you choose to backup — but it's a business product meant primarily for backing up important documents, customer and client databases, and so on, and we think that's the best way to use Filecrate.

Pros: We made a few half-hearted attempts to crack the file encryption in the backup data stream, but the effort was a complete waste of time. The security of the whole backup, background upload, file selection, remote storage and file restore process is perfectly transparent as far as we're concerned, yet it all takes place very securely. The remote storage servers which hold all your backups are also backed up. Encryption takes place transparently, and files are securely and un-crackably uploaded and stored (during backup) or downloaded and saved back to your hard drive (during a file restore). Filecrate Remote File Backup is easy to install and it's a serious piece of business software that you shouldn't be without. Every home computer owner and user, every student with a laptop, and every business computer owner and user needs a secure backup habit that they don't have to think about. Frankly, this sort of software should have been available a lot of years ago. Never mind that — it's here now. Filecrate Remote File Backup is the best of its kind for SOHO, small and medium size business. Highly recommended.

(Ed. Note: Independent reviewer Mark Goldstein was asked to use and review Filecrate because Managing Editor Howard Carson — who normally reviews this type of product — is one of the owners of the FileKrate Inc., publisher of the Filecrate software.)

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