Online backup is essential protection against physical data disaster. Whether it’s an act of malice or an act of nature, you never know when problems will threaten all the files and folders you have stored on your PC.
While we always recommend keeping a local backup for quick restores (see our roundup of the best Windows backup software for desktop solutions), uploading your data to an online backup service can be a reliable way to cover your bases. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best cloud backup services.
The good news for consumers is that all of the top online backup services we reviewed this year are exceptional products. But while all contenders received the same high verdict, each product has its own unique selling point. Our main concern here is backup, but we note other features a service can fulfill, such as sharing, multi-device support, and emergency restore options.
Below our picks, see how we test services and information on how to choose the best backup service for you.
1. iDrive Online Cloud Backup – Best Overall
Just like when we originally reviewed all the major online backup services, iDrive is still the most comprehensive online backup service. And while it’s not the cheapest, it’s still affordable and comes with backup clients for almost every PC and device. The company also provides additional storage to sync all your devices and PCs, allows you to share files with anyone, and has the ability to back up to a local drive.
iDrive has two personal plans that cover one user with unlimited computers and devices: a 5TB plan for $59.62 for the first year (or $119.25 for two years) and $79.50 each year thereafter; and a 10TB plan for $74.62 for the first year (or $149.25 for two years) and $99.50 each year thereafter. A team plan can cover 5, 10, 25, 30, or 35 users, with an equivalent number of devices and terabytes of storage; Prices range from $74.62 to $524.62 for the first year.
Read our full review of iDrive Online Cloud Backup
2. Backblaze: the best budget option
If you’re not sure what you want to back up, or where it is, or just don’t want the pressure of trying to figure it all out, Backblaze is the online backup service for you. It offers unlimited storage and backs up everything except the items you explicitly exclude. Given all that, it’s ridiculously cheap compared to the competition: $7 a month, $70 a year, or $130 for two years for unlimited storage. by computer That’s it. It’s the same for business PCs.
Read our full Backblazer review
3. Carbonite Safe – More aerodynamic
Carbonite Safe is, in its own way, as simple as Backblaze. The only real difference is that Carbonite doesn’t back up everything by default. You select what you think you need to back up, and then leave the rest up to you. Selecting data is quite successful if you use the standard locations (My Documents, etc.), so most users won’t need to provide additional information.
Pricing for elegance is a bit higher: Basic online-only backup costs $72 for one computer for one year, $136.78 for two years, and $194.37 for three. If you want the ability to mirror the backup to a local hard drive and back up videos, then you’re talking $111.99, $212.78, and $302.37, respectively. If you want the ability to recover your data via a mailed-in hard drive (much faster than downloading when there’s a lot of data), the fee increases to $149.99, $284.98, and $404.97, respectively.
Read our full Carbonite Safe review
4. Livedrive – More polished
If you don’t mind paying a premium for your online backup, Livedrive will reward your investment with its sleek setup, minimalistic interface, and excellent performance. There is something to be said for how reassuring it can be to use a product that is cleverly designed and executed. That’s especially true for an online backup service. When it comes to mission-critical operations, an error-free experience provides peace of mind. If you value seamlessness, Livedrive is a great option for online backup. The standard backup plan for one PC and unlimited storage is $89.90 for the first year and $107.88 per year after that; a Pro Suite covering 5 machines is $240 the first year and $300 thereafter.
Read our full Livedrive online backup review
How we test
As stated above, the performance of online backup services will vary greatly depending on your location and the network equipment between you and the data repository. We install the software and back up the same 2 GB data set to check for any major issues or glitches in the client software. These are indicated in the reviews.
How to choose an online backup and storage service
Cloud backup has unique considerations. Familiarizing yourself with the following key areas can help you find the cloud backup service that best suits your needs.
Obviously, you’ll need as much storage as you have data, plus a little, or possibly a lot, more if you want to track changes and save older versions of files. Some services maintain multiple versions of files, others don’t. In many cases there is a time limit.
Almost all online services charge for a maximum amount of data allowed, and uploads are usually free. Aside from the free tiers available on a service like Dropbox, pricing is fairly consistent across services, though you definitely get more bang for your buck from some providers, Backblaze in particular.
As we mentioned earlier, in addition to backup, you may want to share your files with others, work with them from mobile devices, or even edit them with office apps like those available with Dropbox, Google, and OneDrive. If you intend to work online, we recommend that you keep a local copy for backup and protection against internet downtime.
Compatibility with operating systems and devices
Most services provide client backup software for all major operating systems (Linux, OS X, and Windows) and for both Android and iOS. Make sure the service you sign up for is compatible with your entire array of computers and devices.
If you are concerned about the privacy of your data, be sure to use a service that allows the use of a personal encryption key that you define. DON’T miss it as it is Absolutely necessary to restore your data. Unfortunately, using your own key often limits the types of services (eg no mobile backup) available.
Frequently asked questions
How reliable is cloud backup?
Generally speaking, data centers are fully backed up, with some of the larger ones even backing up to different geographic locations. Availability (hopefully 24/7) can also be important. Check out outage news and the provider’s own service blogs. In truth, all the services we know of are almost 100% reliable.
What speeds and data transfer rates should I look for?
In many cases, speed depends much more on your broadband connection than on the online service, although the geographic location of storage and intermediate equipment can make a significant difference. Check the location of the data servers if speed is important to you. Or just try the test and see if you can live with it.
How often should you schedule backups?
Ideally, you should back up your data as often as possible. This is especially true if you’re working on an important project or have data you can’t afford to lose. It’s a good idea to automate the backup process and have the cloud service back up your data every hour or so.
What is the difference between cloud backup services and services like Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive?
Services like Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive are considered cloud services. storage services. This means that a user must place their files or data on the service’s cloud manually. These storage services usually offer a free version with limited storage or a paid version with a larger capacity. They can also come with basic services like automatic cloud backup and file version synchronization.
A cloud backup service provides continuous versioning and backup of all of your device’s file history. They will perform a continuous and automatic backup of all specified files on a device. Cloud backup service providers also offer additional data security measures, such as end-to-end encryption.
Is it safe to store my data online?
Yes! All cloud backup services offer encryption of your data both during transfer to and from your computer and while your data is stored on the provider’s servers.
While this encryption prevents others from seeing your data, it doesn’t necessarily prevent it from being stolen. But rest assured, the level of security against theft with these services is likely to rival that of your own device. Generally speaking, while not foolproof, cloud backup services are one of the safest options for storing your data.