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
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