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Summary:

Backupify has landed a round of financing for its cloud-based backup service from First Round Capital, Betaworks and some high-profile angel investors including Jason Calacanis. But the new company will have to clear the same hurdles as any other cloud-based service — and then some.

A little over a year after coming up with the idea for a web-based service for backing up online services such as Flickr albums or Twitter tweets, Charlie O’Donnell of First Round Capital announced Tuesday on his blog and on Twitter that his venture firm and several others — including venture investors Betaworks and General Catalyst, and angel investors Chris Sacca and Jason Calacanis — have invested $900,000 in a second financing round for startup Backupify. But will users be comfortable backing all their data up with a cloud-storage startup that they’ve never heard of? Backupify will need to clear that hurdle and many others in order to achieve success.

The idea behind the company, O’Donnell says, was to provide a single place where users of various web services such as Twitter and Flickr could back up their data. Although there are a number of cloud-based solutions for backing up documents and information from a desktop (including services such as Mozy, Carbonite and Symantec), he writes that he couldn’t find any “cloud to cloud” solutions that were designed to back up data from web-based services. So he asked a friend, Rob May — founder of BusinessPundit.com — to build something, and Backupify was born.

Users who sign up with the service, which launched in beta last year, get one gigabyte of storage for free, and the company has said that it plans to offer paid accounts with up to 10 gigabytes of storage for $5 a month or $50 a year. After users tell Backupify which services they want to backup, and log in with their credentials, the service pulls the data from those sites using their open APIs (application programming interfaces).

While closing a financing round from some high-profile investors is a nice coup, the main problem for Backupify is that it suffers from all of the privacy and reliability concerns that tend to cluster around any cloud-based service — and then some. After all, some users don’t even like storing their documents online with giant players such as Google or Microsoft; why would they want to do so with a tiny startup? And if backing up your desktop data to the cloud takes a leap of faith (due to some high-profile data losses), it’s likely to take an even bigger one to back up data that’s already in the cloud with another cloud-based service.

Documents and information that start out on a desktop PC remain there when they’re backed up, but what about data that begins and ends in the cloud? Backupify notes that users can download the backups to their PC for added security, but that’s another step people have to take — many of whom are so time-challenged that they fail to do regular backups as it is. Backupify also notes that for some services such as Twitter, it won’t be able to restore the data fully but will simply send you an XML data file that it admits “is not easily readable by human eyes” (the company says it is working on other formats).

Backupify doesn’t host your data itself, the company points out in a FAQ. Using public APIs, the company extracts your data from various cloud-based services — Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Google Documents, etc. — and sends it to Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service). In other words, Backupify is more or less a middleman that stands between your social web services and Amazon’s cloud storage offering. While this might assuage some concerns about the reliability of the backup, however, it’s likely to raise others, since S3 has been known to have issues itself.

If nothing else, Backupify’s latest financing will give it the time to try and answer some of those questions. This is the second round of funding for the company, which raised $125,000 in seed financing last year from a number of angel investors including Hubspot co-founder Darmesh Shah, who also joined as a co-founder.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user tipiro

Related posts from GigaOM Pro: Who Owns Your Data in the Cloud?

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      1. No fair, Rob — you work there :-)

  1. Hi Mathew,
    Thanks for the article. We know the Carbonite guys well, and I just wanted to point out that they never really lost any user data when that press went around.

    Cheers,
    Rob

    1. That’s a good point — thanks, Rob. It got a lot of attention though, and it seemed to become a lightning rod for people’s fears about losing control over their data in the cloud.

  2. Dilip C. Andrade Tuesday, February 16, 2010

    As more and more services take advantage os Amazon’s S3 service as a storage backbone, and as Backupify increases the services that it will backup (which I am assuming it will do), an interesting question must be asked:

    What’s the point up backing up data on an S3 server to an S3 server.

    1. That’s a great point, Dilip. Many web services use Amazon for at least some of their storage and hosting, which of course is already redundantly backed up by Amazon.

  3. I was looking at this earlier and really wondered what the big benefit was after I read the FAQ. I would be interested in Flickr and Twitter – but as you stated above, what good is a bunch of XML tweets to me should I ever need them? Flickr looks a little more promising but it still seems to be a manual process for them. If Flickr looses my data, then the same probably happened to a bunch of other people and more than likely many of those would have this service. How long until my backup is reloaded??

    Anyway – I might sign up for the free 1GB and backup my tweets for fun, but I certainly don’t see paying for this service.

  4. Hi HSK,
    Please note that we are new, which is why we only offer XML right now. Longer term we will offer many other ways to view your data, it just takes a while to build all of that.

    Cheers,
    Rob

  5. As a photographer I am interested. Would need to work out how it would work though as GBs go fast with raw images and a few tiffs. But having an online backup of my stuff would definitely make me feel safer.
    http://martinsoler.com/
    PS: Nice cloud shot that’s got to be HDR.

  6. There is another option to backup data to cloud storage powered by Amazon S3. Check out CloudBerry Backup http://cloudberrydrive.com/ . It is one time fee and the rest what you pay for Amazon S3

  7. Congrats to Rob and Backupify for raising funding after successfully rebranding & repositioning themselves. I’m frankly not sure how consumers will get comfortable storing data in the cloud, altho it is an inevitable trend. Even the US govt requires federal agencies to have a cloud strategy (I know, not necessarily an endorsement): http://bit.ly/bhykBx. The best analogy I can think of is streaming vs. downloaded music: why waste your time and disk space downloading music to own, when you can simply access whatever you want to listen to on any device for a lower cost, a la Spotify? But it’s taken consumers years to adjust to this concept.

    Shameless plug: in addition to backing up in the cloud, you might want to check out Silentale.com, a social CRM, currently in free beta. Silentale automatically provides you with a 360° view of the people you know, including your conversation history with them, by consolidating & indexing your contacts, messages & attachments from emails, social & business networks into a single, searchable archive. Shannon from Silentale.

  8. Why GigaOm is right (and wrong) about Backupify Thursday, February 18, 2010

    [...] Monday, Mathew Ingram over at GigaOm offered his reaction to Backupify getting VC funding. Put simply, Ingram was skeptical about the future of our company. He made some fair points. We [...]

  9. “…it’s likely to take an even bigger one to back up data that’s already in the cloud with another cloud-based service.”

    So, you have your data on some site in the cloud, there is no user back-up solution (only the in-house server back-ups – and we all know how well that works…), but then storing it on another cloud-server would become an issue?
    Isn’t the basic principle of back-up ‘the more the merrier’? A back-up in the cloud is always better than none. True, it would be ironic if your back-up inadvertently would reside on the same server as your live-site – but you pay that back-up service to avoid so? Does S3 look into that as well?

    Sorry, but sounds like flawed logic to me.

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