Apple did the world a great service when they introduced Time Machine backups to OS X. Suddenly, anyone could attach an external disk drive to their Mac and have a constant set of backups at their fingertips with little or no intervention required.
However, there was one very big, hairy fly floating in the soup of backup contentment -- if your backup drive was destroyed or stolen, your backup was gone. Many of us who are paranoid about backups started doing a second level of backups to offsite services such as Mozy, Carbonite, or my personal favorite, BackBlaze.
There's a new kid on the block with a different approach to offsite backup -- Time Warp. This US$25 Mac application (free during the beta period) takes your Time Machine backups, compresses and encrypts them with 256-bit AES encryption, and then uploads them to your personal Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) account.
How does the cost of storage on Amazon S3 compare with the other services? The current costs are $0.15 per GB per month for storage, $0.10 per GB to backup data into S3, and $0.17 per GB to restore data from S3. The Jumping Bean Software team says that backup up 20 GB of personal data would cost about $1.50 per month, which is in line with costs for the other services. Time Warp does intelligent filtering to keep "dumb files" like cache, trash, and temporary files from being uploaded and costing you money.
If you take a glance at the sample screenshot at the top of this post, you'll notice that Time Warp does its best to give you a handle on your storage costs, so there's no guesswork involved. Leopard users who have been on the fence about whether or not to invest in an offsite backup solution might want to take advantage of the Time Warp beta.