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When it comes to backing up your data—be it of a business or personal nature—you can’t be too thorough. Backup options such as CDs or DVDs, external hard drives, NAS appliances, or USB sticks offer a partial solution, but these local storage solutions leave your backup data vulnerable to any number of local disasters.

Online storage services, such as Data Deposit Box, from Acpana Business Systems, can help patch the gaps in your backup plans by storing your data safely off-site.

I tested Data Deposit Box over a two week period on two Windows XP desk-tops, a Windows XP notebook, and another notebook running Windows Vista, and the service has impressed me enough during this review period to win me over as a customer.

Acpana sells the Data Deposit Box service directly to consumers, and through channel partners and resellers. “Resellers make up a lot of Data Deposit Box’s business,” said Peter Carroll, chief technology officer for Data Deposit Box. “A lot of our resellers are small-business network consultants, who sell this as a value-added service. Resellers love the service because they can protect their customers from disasters and get the revenue stream.”

Carroll said that most of Data Deposit Box’s customers are small businesses and others that aren’t a match for the consumer-oriented services but are too small to afford the higher-end business services.

“Our customers tend to have one to five PCs, although some have a hundred or more. Our sweet spot is places that don’t have an IT staff, like people who travel, real estate offices, medical/dental offices and law firms,” Carroll said.

The average Data Deposit Box customer has 2GB to 5GB of storage, according to Carroll.

The cost for Data Deposit Box—two dollars per month for each gigabyte I store—runs a bit higher on a dollar per gigabyte scale than other online storage providers out there, but these options tend to charge per computer, which can get pricey if you’re backing up multiple systems.

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Data Deposit Box accounts may be shared by multiple users running multiple computers, and the account holder may choose whether to extend full or restricted access to those using the account.

To compare, offers non-commercial users two GB per month for free, and “unlimited” storage for $4.95 per month.

For business users, charges, $3.95 per month per machine plus $0.50 per gigabyte per month. will sell you unlimited backup space for your PC for a year for $49.95. will give you 25 gigs of storage free, 100 gigs for $4.95/month, or a terabyte for $29.95/month.

Stacked up against these pricing structures, Data Deposit Box may be a bad choice for backing up or sharing your gigabytes of multimedia files—consider another service for that—but Data Deposit Box is ideal for small business networks or individual professionals with multiple PCs.

The Data Deposit Box backup client software is only available for Windows 95 and later, so the service won’t fit well with Macintosh or Linux systems.

Backing Up

Getting started with Data Deposit Box is easy to do—I simply visited the service’s Web site at, signed up for the service, then downloaded and in-stalled a client application on my test machine.

The Backup client updates itself automatically, each time it connects.

All four of the Windows machines with which I tested were running Check Point Software’s ZoneAlarm fire-wall/security suite, and I had to make sure that the Data Deposit Box client was authorized to communicate through this firewall.

Also, I had to establish that the backup client was clear to launch itself upon startup of my test systems. On my Vista machine, this meant acting on the “Programs waiting for startup approval” notice that appeared on Vista’s tray following installation of the backup client.

Data Deposit Box is a safe and easy online storage solution.

The Data Deposit Box backup client installation process includes specifying which directories to protect. The default list of folders, on which the client keeps an eye and automatically backs up, included My Documents, Desktop, Favorites, Microsoft Outlook, and Microsoft Outlook Express. It was easy enough to add other folders, including folders on other drives.

According to Carroll, one of the features on the Data Deposit Box to-do list is support for including or excluding files by type, such as MP3s, which will help users from being surprised by their bills by inadvertently backing up large multimedia files.

Whenever a file in one of the specified directories is closed, the Backup client checks for changes, and sends them to your account, assuming you’re online. After the initial backup, the odds are that the amount of new data will be small, and will be backed up almost instantly.

I could configure the client’s “Suspend” option, thereby directing the backup client to pause its backup operations when it detects keyboard or mouse activity, and resume when the activity stops. When I was disconnected from the Internet, the backup client waited for the next time I was connected to resume its backup operations. I could also block out particular times not to conduct back-ups.

File Access and Recovery

I could retrieve backed up files either from the Data Deposit Box backup client, or from a Web browser, by connecting to the service’s Web portal.

I conducted a number of restores and retrievals using the backup client and the Web portal, and found the process gratifyingly easy: the service displayed my machines, categorized into active (currently online and being backed up) and inactive classes.

In order to reach particular files for retrieval, I simply clicked my way through the directory structure. Obviously, it helps to know in which directory path the file(s) you’re looking for reside, but the product allowed me to search on filenames and filename wild cards to locate the data I sought. At this point, the service does not allow for searching within files, however.

While the feature sets of the local backup client and the service’s Web portal are for the most the same, one important option available only from the Web interface is versioning support.
Data Deposit Box allows users to keep up to 28 versions of individual files.

I was able to specify a minimum time between versions, and view on the Web portal the current and time-stamped previous versions of my backed up files available for retrieval. In order to use this feature, I had to enable versioning support from within the backup client.

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The Data Deposit Box backup client let me retrieve files or entire directories, but only in their most recent versions. The current version (as of late June 2007) of the service’s Web interface limited me to grabbing one file at a time, but according to Carroll, the next version of the Web portal will include a “shopping cart” which will allow users to tag files for download in a single, zipped file.

I did encounter an occasional hiccup during my tests. For instance, on more than one occasion, a file I retrieved through the Web interface was missing its file extension. Also, I occasionally encountered the error message “Sorry, you don’t have permission to view this HTML file,” and had to log in again in order to complete the retrieval.

The Data Deposit Box service does not auto-delete backed-up files, which is important for rescuing unintentionally-deleted data, but the service does offer a cleanup wizard, which comes in handy for pruning unwanted files.

Daniel P. Dern ( is an independent technology writer. His Web site is