Web Site: http://www.acronis.com/homecomputing/products/online-backup/
OS: Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7
Cost $4.95/month or $49.95/year for 250 GB
Reviewer's View: Overall this a fine backup choice. It provides a generous amount of space for a fair price. They could do a better job of defining how to get started, and the web site recovery could be better integrated with the desktop software, but after you get going, it's a very straight-forward process.
There's a lot to like about backing up to the cloud. I've got two external drives I use for backups, but I've been thinking it would be good to have a cloud solution too. After all, it's not that far-fetched that an electrical spike could wipe out my computer and backups in one horrible step. With a backup in the cloud, you're always covered. If you can get past security/privacy concerns, having a backup offsite on somebody else's servers actually makes a lot of sense.
Acronis Online Backup is one of many options, but for $4.95 per month or $49.95 a year for a generous 250GB of space, it's an excellent choice. Getting started could be confusing for the non-technical user, but once you've got it going, it runs automatically. When it's time to restore files, it's a simple, straight-forward process.
You start by registering, after which Acronis sends you an email with a link for entering your payment information. Once you're registered, you can access your account page where you download the backup program. This is a Windows-only product, so if you are using Mac or Linux, you'll need to look elsewhere. After you register, you get a link to your account page, but it isn't inherently obvious if it's your first time there how to get started. It's part of the overall web site, and I wasn't sure if I should start on the Account page or another page. There is large 'Recover my data' button, but there is no correspondingly large 'Download software to get started' button and there really should be.
What you'll find (eventually), is a link to download the software. It's there in the middle of the page, but to be honest it took me a while to find it and realize that was starting point. Once I did, I simply clicked the link and downloaded the software. After that it was a straight-forward set up process.
Selecting Files to Backup
After you complete the installation and launch the software for the first time, you are prompted to name your computer. It uses your computer's default name as the default. You can also encrypt the name if you wish, but if you lose the key, you're on your own. Next, you pick the files you want to back up. It chooses, My Documents automatically, but you can choose any disk, folder or file you want, or you can select broad categories like finance or music and Acronis backs up these files based on the extensions for you automatically regardless of the location. It doesn't appear to give you a total number of MB for the selected files until after the process is complete, and it would be useful to know this up front before you start the back up.
Once you select the files, you can schedule a time to back up every day automatically. The default is Noon. Data transfer speed was only around 2 mbits per second on my computer, which seemed a bit slow to me. It would have been nice if the progress bar indicated how many megabytes had been transferred of the total number. Once the back up is complete (that progress bar is as good as useless--it's much faster than the progress box tells you), you see a graphical view of the online back up. You can view your backed up files through the desktop client (or in the event of disaster) on the web site.
Acronis wisely includes an option for removing your files from online storage, which is nice should you ever decide to cancel your account.
I tested the file recovery and it worked flawlessly from the desktop client, letting me choose any folder or allowing me to create a new folder on the fly. When using the web client, it's worth mentioning that it does not support Chrome. When you download files from the web site, Acronis sends you a WinZip archive with the files you are recovering. I would have preferred it at least had an option to use the Backup/Recovery software to place the files in correct directories. This could get awkward if you have to do a full recovery from online.
Aside from the pain of getting started and my issues with the web site file recovery utility, I found the Acronis Online Backup to be an excellent option and it's one I would consider for my personal use in the future. It's reasonably priced, gives you a decent amount of backup space for the money and it's simple to operate. Best of all it gives you peace of mind, that if disaster strikes, you will always have a copy of your most precious data files stashed in the cloud and ready to recover.