Carbonite is one of the web's most popular online backup services, and for good reason. The Carbonite client runs quietly in the background uploading your data to Carbonite's servers to make sure it's safe in case something happens to your computer. Carbonite can automatically back up documents, music, email, and other files (although it manually backs up video), and grants you access to those files and your archives on your smartphone. Carbonite supports Windows and OS X (although its Home Plus and Home Premier plans only support Windows), and make restoring your files as easy as backing them up. Your offsite files are encrypted to keep them safe from prying eyes, and all of their plans include unlimited storage for your backed up files. Carbonite's Home Plus plan extends its features and allows you to back up external hard drives and not just files on your computer, and allows you to back up full system images. The Home Premier plan includes both of those features and adds automatic backup of your video files, and a courier recovery service that delivers you backups on a hard drive to you ASAP if something terrible happens.
No honorable mentions this week, as the nominations dropped off pretty sharply from these five. Some of you pointed to your own kind of franken-backup solution that made use of traditional cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive in addition with desktop utilities and clients that can automatically copy whatever you want from your computer to specified files and folders in those services, which is a great option if you want the absolute ultimate in control.
This is a Chrome extension that actually works from the Web Store—because it doesn't let you download YouTube videos. It time marks snippets you can share (only from YouTube). First create an account and log in. The extensions icon turns green on a YouTube page—click it to create the times you want, and they are then saved and easily shared; the viewer goes back to YouTube and sees what you specify. It's not really close to saving a video for your offline use, but could be useful in certain circumstances.
Most services encrypt your files with strong systems such as AES 256 before sending them up to the servers over an encrypted connection. The majority of products we tested also offer a private encryption key option. If you choose to manage your own encryption keys (basically the "key" that decrypts your backup), know that it is your responsibility to remember it. The online backup service itself will not be able to help you reset the password if you forget it. On the flip side, this means that no one (including employees of the backup service and law enforcement officials) other than you can unlock your backups. This is ideal from a privacy and security standpoint. Use a password manager to keep track of your private encryption key if you think you will forget it.
Michael Muchmore is PC Magazine's lead analyst for software and web applications. A native New Yorker, he has at various times headed up PC Magazine's coverage of Web development, enterprise software, and display technologies. Michael cowrote one of the first overviews of web services for a general audience. Before that he worked on PC Magazine's Solutions section, which covered programming techniques as well as tips on using popular office software. He previously covered services and software for ExtremeTech.com.
Third-party software is where you will get the best control over downloading online videos. Typically, you paste the URL for the YouTube video you want into the program, and it downloads the highest quality version it can find. For videos in 1080p High Definition (HD) format, that's usually an MP4 file. For anything higher in quality—4K and even 8K videos—the file format is typically MKV.
For this software, you just need to copy the YouTube link and paste it directly into the box that’s labeled for the link. Then you get to choose the format that you want to download it into. You’re going to need to download their specific software in order to be able to download, but then you just have to click to download, and you’re all set. It really is just that easy. You can even tell it to download multiple URLs at the same time, so you can fill in everything you want to download and tell it to start while you head off to do other things.
Remember that problem of using Chrome extensions from the Google Web Store? You're going to have an even bigger issue when you want to download from YouTube using an Android app from the Google Play store, where Google has an even tighter grip. (Nor can you actually download anything with your officially sanctioned YouTube apps. Unless you live in India.)
Eric has been writing about tech for over 27 years. He was on the founding staff of Windows Sources, FamilyPC, and Access Internet Magazine (all defunct, and it's not his fault). He's the author of two novels, BETA TEST ("an unusually lighthearted apocalyptic tale"--Publishers' Weekly) and KALI: THE GHOSTING OF SEPULCHER BAY. He works from his home office in Ithaca, New York.
Not to be confused with the unrelated "pro" above, Video DownloadHelper supports a huge number of sites—even those for adults. You'll know a video is downloadable when the icon for the extension animates when you're on the webpage. Video DownloadHelper for Chrome has stopped working with YouTube—so it could get placement in the Chrome Web Store. You can get around that by using the Video DownloadHelper extension for Firefox. The developer has a Kiva initiative page, where it prefers you donate funds to those in need, which has raised over $137,700.
You can either tear out your hair when a disaster strikes your hard drive or you can prepare for it ahead of time, but data loss is as inevitable as death and taxes. An online backup service is one of the best ways to protect yourself against such threats as a crashed hard drive or accidental deletion. Natural disasters such as fires, floods, and earthquakes can also spell the end of your digital media and documents. Even if you're among the very few who diligently perform local backups at regular intervals, you could still lose data if you don't store backups offsite.
On iPhones and iPads, you'd think there would be no such restriction since Apple and Google aren't exactly the best of pals. But on the few apps I tried in the first edition of this story, not only wouldn't they download from YouTube, they're not even available anymore. One of those apps said in its description, "downloading from YouTube is prohibited due to its Terms of Service." Apple is ensuring that app makers play by the rules—even Google's rules. All the better to get Google to block someone who eventually does something illegal with iTunes downloads.
Bitcasa Infinite Drive is relatively new, but it's one of your favorite cloud storage providers in general, mostly because they offer virtually unlimited stroage for syncing and backups. When we say unlimited, we mean it—some of you are using terabytes of storage with Bitcasa. It's not primarily a backup service though, and while it was built for file syncing and storage, the Bitcasa desktop client does support regular file backups. Bitcasa supports Windows and OS X, and encrypts all of your files before uploading so they stay safe from prying eyes. Bitcasa even keeps revision history, so if you've backed up a file multiple times and need an older version, you can pick it out and restore it. Plus, you can use the Bitcasa mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone to access your data on the go.