It’s possible to purchase 1 terabyte of online backup for $20

By no means am I a data pack-rat requiring vast needs of online backup. I’ve accumulated only 600 gigabytes of data over the past twenty years that consists mostly of photographs, edited home video projects, and miscellaneous Microsoft Office documents.

For years I shuffled these digital assets across multiple storage devices in my home. At some point I started to wonder, “What happens if my home catches fire or my external drive fails? This data is surely gone forever.  Should I investigate an online backup subscription?”

To remedy this concern, two years ago I purchased a one-year backup subscription from Carbonite for about $100. This plan allowed me to back up data from one computer, but it excluded network-attached storage devices. While the service worked as advertised, it felt unnecessarily expensive for my needs as I was most interested in protecting my longer-term archived files.

Last year I let my Carbonite subscription lapse in favor of purchasing a one-year subscription from SOS Online Backup for $150. While the cost was 50% more than Carbonite, it afforded unlimited devices and storage. This plan worked swimmingly for my needs until my contract expired, the unlimited plan was discontinued, and I was offered the replacement $400 yearly subscription to meet my 600 gigabyte storage needs.

As I’ve heard people say, sometimes to solve a problem you must approach the solution from another angle. Here’s why I purchased a one-year subscription Microsoft Office 365 for $100—to leverage the included 1 terabyte of online backup storage!

A subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Home allows purchasers to install a local copy of Access, Excel, OneDrive, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Word. For me this is a fabulous deal for the value since I use Excel, OneNote, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word on almost a daily basis. Here’s the hook—

  • A subscriber’s OneDrive account is increased to 1 terabyte of storage
  • A subscriber is permitted to include four others on the same account
Screen capture of Office 365 Home demonstrating subscription sharing

Send an invitation to four e-mail addresses

For $100 a year, five users can leverage Microsoft Office Home locally and have 1 terabyte of online storage secured separately using separate Microsoft IDs and passwords.

I suppose a clever group of five could pool their money to drive down each individual’s investment to $20.

If you choose to go this route, there’s one configuration tweak required in OneDrive to maximize the 1 terabyte of online storage. If you’re like me and you want to back up data not kept on your primary computer, you’re going to have to exclude a backup folder on your OneDrive account so that the application doesn’t try and synchronize this data back to your laptop or desktop.  This is especially important if your local computer is low on disk space.

Screen capture of Microsoft OneDrive online backup synchronization settings

Exclude a backup folder so that the data isn’t re-synchronized back to the computer

To save data to your OneDrive account you will visit and press the Upload link to select files from your computer and save them to the Microsoft server.

It may not be the most elegant solution, but it’s hard to argue against the value.

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I am Matt Robb, a technology and fiction writer. Continue reading →

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