Backpack Review: Leave Home Without It..That’s the Point

Review of: Backpack
Software by:
37 Signals
Price:
Starts at $24 per month

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4 Stars
On June 4, 2010
Last modified:April 30, 2012

Summary:

Backpack is another great piece of software by 37 signals, the creators of Highrise and Basecamp. Backpack is a tool that helps you organize all of your company's calendars, documents, to-dos, etc in one location. And since all of those files are stored on Backpack's servers, you can access your company's documents from any computer anywhere! If you are mobile, or if your company is not centrally located, this product is definitely worth the price. There is also a limited FREE plan so that you can try the software without any risks.

Many websites are, or eventually become, collaborative efforts.  The greatest sites are often the combination of works provided by several talented individuals, and keeping those individuals producing great content or doing whatever it is that they do does require more than a modicum of organization.  So, it is time to look deep inside and ask whether your management style and techniques could not use a little help.  If you are thinking that there might be a little more money to be squeezed out of a domain and/or team member, then it is time to look into Backpack.

Backpack Has it All Under One Roof Zipper

A recurring theme that hit our reviewers over and over again was: isn’t this available for free elsewhere?  The answer is that yes, most of what Backpack has to offer is available for free under many different sites.  Therein is the beauty of Backpack: everything is organized and tightly integrated into a single service.  Instead of having to check Google Docs for this, Google Wave for that, and then some other online service for this, that, and the other thing, it is all in one place.

Define ‘All’

Ok, so ‘all’ is a big word, but in this context it means that Backpack puts calendars, files, documents, message boards, notes, to-do lists, reminders, and just about everything else a business or organization could want is in one central place.  Everything can be added to individual pages, which are surprisingly simple to make yet highly effective.  Each page can be shared with different users and notifications of page additions and/or changes is a breeze.  While none of the pages are going to be as slick as the latest Thesis skins, they are certainly functional, easy to modify, and not likely to cause blindness due to horrid design malfunctions.

These tools are all accessible to different members of any organization, which greatly increases collaboration.  For example, a new deadline can be added to a writer’s schedule along with an interview appointment, the e-mail reminders for both of those events, and the to-do list item for both of these events.  As these items change from the future tense to the past, the powers that be can be notified of the changes and rest assured that projects are moving along as planned.  This is only one example of how Backpack can make life easier, but there are plenty of others.

Backpack and Keys

Remind Me Later

Managing multiple projects can be a challenge, and more projects only adds to the difficulty.  One of the nicest things about Backpack is that it allows reminders to be set, complete with e-mail and/or SMS notification(s).  There can be little excuse for falling behind when the SMS messages and/or e-mails arrive, and this can be a great tool for reminding contributors of deadlines and ensuring that whatever needs to get done does indeed get done in a timely fashion.

Laptop Toasted?  Don’t Worry!  Backpack Has Your Files

Keeping everything under one proverbial roof is great when things go bad.  If a computer were to die or be lost in transit, perhaps on the way to a conference, then nothing stored on Backpack is truly lost.  All one has to do is secure a replacement system, log in, and everything is right as it was left.  This is the major draw of cloud-based apps, and Backpack extends this appeal by putting everything in a single place and making it easy to access.  Of course, easy to access does not have to mean insecure as an available 128-bit SSL encryption technology is available on all but the lowest tier of Backpack plans.

Plans?

On the subject of plans, it is time to get down to the nails and tacks.  Sadly, Backpack is not a free service, but it offers a lot for one’s dollar.  The Basic plan only costs $24 a month, but allows up to 6 users to share up to 1000 pages that consume as much as 4 GB of space.  The downside to the Basic plan is that it does not offer 128-bit SSL encryption like the Plus ($49 per month), Premium ($99 per month), and Max ($149) per month.  The Plus plan increases limits to 15 users, 10 GB, and 2500 pages, while the Premium plan takes that a step further and increases limits up to 40 users, 20 GB of storage, and 5000 pages.  The Max plan offers a stunning 500 user cap, along with 7500 pages and 50 GB of storage, and all accounts offer an incredibly long list of standard features.  There is also a risk-free 30 day trial ,which would probably be a great place to start for anyone seriously considering seeing how much organization truly pays.

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Written by

Chad Weirick is a global traveler, ghostwriter, teacher, and father. His hobbies include reading, languages, mixed martial arts, photography, digital media, blogging, and spending time with his family.

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