Looking for a safe place to back up and store all your digital data? This post will help you get started. Here, we’ll look closely at five of the best online cloud backup services to check out where they shine and where they fall short.
What is cloud backup?
First, let’s get past the basics. Usually, we back up all our data to an external drive or local network. These local backups are great for quick restoration. What’s disappointing is that they suffer from the very same risks that your computer does – malware, hardware failure, accidental erasure, fire, theft and the like.
On the other hand, the best online cloud backup services copy your entire data over the internet to remote servers at diverse locations. You’ll be able to conveniently access these secure off-site backups at any time from any place and restore them easily in a click or two.
Of course, there’s no reason not to do both – local and cloud backup – and be doubly safe. 🔒
The initial backup of your data can be hugely time-consuming. But thereafter, all your files are backed up automatically. The best online cloud backup services also allow you to send a physical device containing all your data for initial upload, and this can reduce upload time drastically. In the same way, they also allow faster restoration via a physical device shipped to you.
After researching the topic for a while and experimenting with a number of services in the market, we’ve decided to feature the following platforms in the top five. Here’s a quick overview of the features offered and the most important parameters of these best online cloud backup services:
|Price / year||$60||$52.12||$71.99||$49.99||$120|
|Devices per account||1||Unlimited||1||Varies across plans||1|
|Platforms||Mac, PC||Mac, PC, mobile||Mac, PC||Mac, PC, mobile, virtual machines and social media accounts||Mac, PC, Linux|
|Storage||Unlimited||2 TB||Unlimited||Varies across plans||Unlimited|
|Continuous or Scheduled backups||Both||Both||Both||Scheduled. As often as every five minutes.||Both|
Five best cloud backup services
Now onto the details of each platform:
1. Backblaze (www.backblaze.com)
Backblaze offers a bunch of useful features, including unlimited storage combined with fast and reliable backups, all at an attractive price.
Platforms and ease of use: Backblaze supports backup from Mac as well as PCs. Setup is easy too, needing you to just enter a few details like email id and password.
Storage and backup frequency: There’s unlimited storage, but that only covers one computer per account. By default, backups are continuous, though you can also schedule backups.
What does backup include? All your data is automatically backed up excluding system files, program files, applications, empty folders or temporary web files. If you’ve got data on external drives, that’s backed up too. You can specify the folders you don’t want to back up. The Business Plan allows backup of data from a network (NAS) too.
How secure is your backup? Backblaze include at-rest and in-transit encryption as well as a personal key option. Two-factor authentication adds an extra security layer.
Is it easy to restore? Restoration of files is only via the Backblaze website. This can get tedious, as files are not restored to their original locations. Instead, the files have to be downloaded to a zip file that’s limited to 500 GB. Optionally, they’ll ship a physical device to you should you need it.
Other important considerations:
- Old file versions and deleted files are retained for 30 days
- File sharing is possible only via B2, Backblaze’s cloud storage service.
- No syncing option
In many ways, Backblaze is the easiest to set up and use among the best online cloud backup services – automatically backing up your files on installation.
2. iDrive (www.idrive.com)
IDrive is fast and offers greater control over your backup process when compared to other cloud backup services.
Platforms and ease of use: It supports multiple platforms like Mac, PC, Linux as well as mobiles. A centralized console allows you to manage backups. This helps you view the account activities of all your connected computers. Moreover, you’ll be able to change settings across all of your devices from this dashboard.
Storage and backup frequency: All free account holders get 5 GB in the Basic Plan. That increases to 2 TB when you upgrade to the Personal Plan. Backups are continuous, but you can also schedule backups.
What does backup include? iDrive backs up the entire drive including OS, settings, apps, files/folders, with content and structure intact. You can exclude selected files.
Pricing: Besides a Basic Free Plan, iDrive offers Personal and Business. Plans start at $52.12 / year for 2 TB of storage, but what’s attractive is that it can be used by all your web-enabled devices. Moreover, older versions of your files do not count towards storage.
How secure is your backup? iDrive encrypts all your files in transit as well as in storage. Account holders also get a personal encryption key.
Is it easy to restore? Restoration is via a desktop app or browser. While iDrive doesn’t automatically restore files to their original location, it allows you to choose the location manually. It’s also possible to recover deleted files from Trash within 30 days.
Other important considerations:
- Can send you a hard drive with your data once a year at no extra cost
- IDrive smartphone apps let you back up limited data from both Android and iOS
- No limit on retention of deleted files until you do an archive cleanup
- Retains up to 30 versions of each file
- Can back up to external hard drives, network storage
- Can share files that are backed up
iDrive is a fine choice among the best cloud backup services if your storage requirement is below 2 TB and if long retention periods are important to you.
3. Carbonite (www.carbonite.com)
Carbonite offers automatic and unlimited cloud backup. Its simple set-up-and-forget approach is probably the easiest among the best online cloud backup services here.
Platforms and ease of use: Not only can you view and manage your backups from the desktop application, you can also use any browser to access your files via a well designed web interface.
Storage and backup frequency: Carbonite offers unlimited storage for a single computer in its Basic Plan. Backups are continuous, but scheduled backups are also possible.
What does backup include? It automatically backs up all the files you select during the installation process. However, files over 4 GB and videos need to be added manually. Individual files or folders can also be selected for backup, while backing up from external drive is available only with Plus and Prime plans.
Pricing: There are 3 ‘Safe’ plans, and costs are per computer. The Safe Basic comes at $6 per month, billed annually ($71.99). At $9.34 per month, the Safe Plus Plan will include external drives, back up videos by default, as well as back up a complete system image of your computer locally. For $12.50 per month, you get courier recovery service under the Safe Prime Plan.
How secure is your backup? All data is encrypted. Extra security is by way of personal key encryption and two-factor authentication.
Is it easy to restore? Using a desktop app, you can choose to restore all or some of the files, as well as search based on file names. Files can be restored to a single folder or to their original location.
Other important considerations:
- Mac version offers neither versioning nor a personal-key option
- Carbonite color codes your file system, so you know the backup status of each file or folder
- Backs up photos from any android or iPhone
- Deleted files retained for 30 days
- Can access backups via mobile apps
With Carbonite, you’ll be able to view all your files from a web interface or mobile app. There are many options for restoration as well – individual files, all your data, previous versions or deleted files.
4. Acronis True Image (www.acronis.com)
Acronis True Image captures an image of your complete data and backs it up. It packs a lot in the range of plans it offers – from cloud backup, mobile and social media backups to ransomware protection.
Platforms and ease of use: It backs up Mac, PC and mobiles, virtual machines and social media accounts. The excellent desktop interface makes working with Acronis truly easy. Additionally, you’ll also be able to track the status of backups, see file sizes, measure backup speeds, and view color-coded displays of the data.
Storage and backup frequency: Starting with only 250 GB, storage limits vary depending on the plan you choose. Backups run only according to a schedule. The default frequency is once per day, though you can change that to a maximum of 5 minutes. Event-based scheduling is also possible.
What does backup include? By default, True Image selects the entire drive to back up, including external drives, mapped network drives, Outlook and OneDrive. However, you can also manually choose what to back up.
Pricing: Prices start at $49.99 / year for the Standard package. The Advanced pack comes at $99.99 / year.
How secure is your backup? Acronis encrypts all your data as well as offers a personal encryption key. Besides, there’s protection against ransomware and cryptomining. To ensure files are intact, the Premium Plan includes Blockchain-based authentication and electronic signatures.
Is it easy to restore? Acronis restores files to their original location automatically through a web-based console. If you wish, you can also back up to an external drive or to mapped network drives. The latest offer is a “survival kit”, which quickly creates a bootable file-restoration tool.
Other important considerations:
- Manually clean backups, user-configurable versions and retention
- No seeding or restoration via shipped drives
- Windows users can sync across devices
- Halts cryptomining software, conserving your computer resources
Acronis offers a first month free trial period, so you can take it for a spin before making a switch. It provides fast and complete backups, and is great for migrating your data.
5. CrashPlan (www.crashplan.com)
With a simple pricing plan and unlimited storage, CrashPlan for small business ranks right up there among the best online cloud backup services.
Platforms and ease of use: CrashPlan supports Mac, Windows and Linux. An intuitive and user-friendly app makes backing up, managing and restoring data easy. You can also add and remove computers via the dashboard.
Storage and backup frequency: CrashPlan comes with unlimited storage. Backups are automatic and continuous, but you can set up a custom schedule too.
What does backup include? With CrashPlan, you can control what files are backed-up, when, and how often. You’ll also be able to include external hard drives, though CrashPlan won’t back up a few files in certain system folders.
Pricing: Pricing is simple and straightforward at $10 per month per device. You can add as many devices as you wish and the costs will change automatically.
How secure is your backup? CrashPlan offers standard protection for your data all along the way. You can set up personal encryption too.
Is it easy to restore? Resotration is via desktop app or browser. You can restore any available file from a date and time you specify.
Other important considerations:
- No restriction on file size or type
- Lets you customize your versioning policy
- You decide the retention period for deleted files
CrashPlan comes with a higher price tag than many of the other best cloud backup services, but the fact that you get unlimited storage is a huge benefit for big-volume data consumers.
What about Dropbox and other storage services?
While cloud storage and synchronization services like Dropbox are useful, they are just that – storage services where you can park your data. They do not automatically back up your computer’s content. On the contrary, the best online cloud backup services back up all your data continuously and / or at scheduled intervals.
What to look for in a cloud backup service?
If you’re looking for a cloud backup service, you’ll want to start by checking the availability of these features:
- 💻 Platform support
- Most services offer support for Windows and Mac.
- 🔧 Easy setup and management
- A set-it-and-forget approach is best.
- 💾 Storage capacity
- Many offer unlimited storage, but check the fine print.
- 🔁 Continuous back up
- There’s no loss of data if the backing up is done round the clock.
- 🔑 Encryption of data
- Including personal encryption key.
- ⏪ Versioning
- Helps to rollback clean copies if your current data is corrupted.
- 📂 Backing up to and from external drives
- So you can control what’s outside of your main device as well.
- ♻️ Retention of deleted files
- The best online cloud backup services allow indefinite retention period.
- 🔼 Upload and restore using physical devices
- This saves time and bandwidth.
- 👐 Syncing and sharing
- You want to be able to sync and share with other devices and friends.
- 📱 Smartphone backup
- Always good to take care of your phone as well.
This is a lot of requirements, and it might be difficult to find a service that checks off all of that. Therefore, it’s always best to prioritize and decide which of these features are the most important to you, and then make your pick based on that.
Summary of the best online cloud backup services
Here’s a bigger comparison table to make your decision easier – also presenting a bird’s eye view of the whole backup services landscape:
That wraps up our list of the best online cloud backup services. Do you have a favorite? Share your thoughts with us in the comments.
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