Daily Archives: Thursday, 7th Sep 2017

Phone Upgrade Time (Not)

Well, it’s almost that time of the odd-numbered year when a sequence of events occurs:

  1. Apple announce shiny new iPhone models
  2. Les gets a new phone the day they’re released

Well, half of that is happening. Apple will indeed be announcing new iPhones next Tuesday (details the subject of the usual rumours, speculation and silliness), but I won’t be buying one.

It’s not that I’ve gone off the idea of having new toys so much as looking at ways of saving some money. The way mobile phones are generally sold in the UK is on a two year contract. You pay a small part of the hardware cost up front (ranging from nothing at all to £100 or more), then pay a monthly fee which covers the tariff you’ve chosen and another part of the cost of the phone. Now this is quite convenient, as you avoid paying loads of money in one go, but over the term of the contract, it can end up being very expensive indeed.

A couple of years ago, I got my latest upgrade from Three – iPhone 6S on an “all you can eat” data, minutes and texts plan, which included a 12GB tethering allowance. This had changed a few times since my previous contract, where there had been no limit on tethering, then went to a deal-breaking 2GB limit, being increased a few times to something more useful. All very nice, but the monthly cost was a little over £62, which seemed like a good idea at the time, but less so now.

So when I got the notification that I was due for an upgrade, and at the end of the minimum term of the contract, I had a bit of a think. And decided to switch to a SIM-only contract. Looking at the current deals, I found that Three had a 30GB package which allows the whole amount to be used as a hotspot should I be so inclined (I’ve never used that much in a month, so the “all you can eat”, or even the 100GB level seemed quite unnecessary). And all of this for £18 a month on a one-year contract – you can also get it on a monthly contract, but that costs more.

I decided to pop into the Three shop in Eldon Square rather than calling customer services, which turned out to be a good plan. I had to wait a few minutes for someone to be available, but then it was all no trouble at all. There was absolutely no attempt to sell me anything I didn’t want, whether a handset or a bigger package, and it was all sorted out quickly and easily.

So, the £44 I’m no longer spending would come to £1,056 over the two years I’d normally expect to keep a phone, which is quite a lot, really.

My cunning plan is to buy a suitable handset when I’ve done some financial rearrangements. No rush, though – I’m still happy with the 6S….

Moving on from CrashPlan – Backblaze

You might recall me being a wee bit annoyed by CrashPlan‘s decision to abandon the home market.

Well, despite having about seven months before my old backups disappear, I thought I’d better get on with it, given that I have a lot of data to back up, and it’s going to take quite a while[1] to finish uploading it all to a new provider.

So, after a moderate bit of research, a lot of muttering and a free trial, I’ve selected Backblaze as my new online backup provider. (Obligatory disclaimer – that’s a referral link, which can get you a free month’s service, and a free month for me if you sign up).

It’s priced per computer – so not so bad for the two machines I want to protect, but not as good a deal if you’ve got more. You can either pay $5 per month, $50 per year or $95 for two years. I’ve gone for a year, and I’ll review it after that.

Things to like:

  • It’s still available!
  • The client installs as a preference pane on macOS, rather than a Java thing like CrashPlan
  • Upload speed appears to be pretty fast so far, need to monitor that

Things not to like

  • Restores are via a web interface rather than directly from the client – not a major issue, but slightly less convenient
  • Files deleted from your computer will be purged from the backup after a short time. There is no long-term retention of deleted files. Make sure you’re using local backup (such as Time Machine) in addition to this service if being able to recover something you deleted more than a month ago is important to you. Use Time Machine anyway, it’s good.

Progress reports will follow in due course…

[1] This is one of those understatement thingies