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Remember those Apple ads that said "There's an app for that?" ZipCloud is an online backup service whose motto may as well be a variation on that theme. The basic service does exactly what you expect, backing your files up to their secure Amazon S3 backend via the internet. But the experience is marred by the numerous up-charges. Want more versions, hourly backups, faster uploads, or support for large files? Yep, there's an add-on for that.
ZipCloud actually does a pretty good job of making online backups simple. Signing up only takes a few minutes, and the default backup settings cover everything that the majority of users would want to backup, namely your Desktop, Documents, Downloads, and Pictures folder. Noticeably absent is your Music folder, although adding additional folders to your backup is simple with ZipCloud's desktop application.
Zipcloud's numerous upgrades are a bit hard to find, buried in your account settings.
ZipCloud automatically back up your Mac once daily.You can set the backup time, or create an advanced schedule that runs only on specified days. While some backup is better than none, keep in mind that a daily backup means you could still lose an entire day's worth of documents, photos, music, and whatever else in an instant. For casual users though, daily backups may be enough.
Hourly backups cost extra—you'll have to pony up an additional £19.94 (about $32 as of this writing) for that (for some reason, all the add-on prices are listed in British pounds). ZipCloud's site offers no indication if that's a one-time, monthly, or annual fee—although I was eventually able to confirm that charges are annual. ZipCloud offers a dozen upgrades, from more Sync Space for syncing between devices (think: Dropbox), to Priority Support, which costs £9.95 ($16), and promises 24-hour response times.
Before you sign up, the three basic pricing tiers for personal accounts seem straightforward (there are two slightly cheaper options that offer 75GB and 250GB of backup storage). But none of the add-on options are mentioned anywhere until you've logged into an account. Even the site's support docs only list the base prices, with no mention of the upgrades. There is a free trial, but why make your customer do so much work to find out how much things really cost?
Zipcloud's interface is simple and easy to understand, even for new users.
But the dodginess doesn't end there. After signing in, one of the first screens offered to "Supercharge" my account — for an additional fee. I clicked through, expecting more information on what Supercharging entails...and ended up subscribed to this extra-fee service. To make matters worse, the subscription is listed in my account, but there's no information anywhere on what features "Supercharged Backups" actually offers. There was a brief mention of faster uploads on the offer screen, but beyond that, I have no idea what I'm paying for. Searching the online help for "Supercharged" turns up zero results, and digging in to the support section of the website by hand turned up no mention of the feature.
ZipCloud also offers Priority Support — for a fee — but when I submitted a standard support query, the automated confirmation promises "95% of all tickets we receive are replied to within 2 hours." Either an unusually large number of customers subscribe to Priority Support, or it's entirely unnecessary. The third option is that perhaps the claim made in the email just isn't true. My answer to a simple pricing question got answered the next day, so apparently I'm in the other five percent. Still, that was quicker than I was expecting.
From a functionality standpoint, ZipCloud works fine. But without clear descriptions of what the basic accounts include, and comprehensive descriptions of add-on options — before you buy in — the whole endeavor just feels a little uneasy. Offering premium features is fine, but the myriad of poorly explained, slightly hidden upgrades reminded me of slick timeshare salesmen in Mexico, not a tech service that's trying to get me to pay them to watch over all my data.
The bottom line. ZipCloud's online backup works well, and features like sharing, file syncing, and support for iOS apps are nice. But the opaque pricing and feature details, minimal documentation, and emphasis on upselling add-ons leaves this cloud feeling dark.
ZipCloud online backup service
Mac OS X 10.5 or later.
Unlimited online backup. Baked-in file-syncing and sharing. Simple setup.
Base prices somewhat misleading. Limited information available about account capabilities. "Hidden" paid add-ons make it difficult to understand what to expect from your basic account. Thin documentation.