What is the best online cloud backup service available?

The best cloud backup solutions can assist you in avoiding data loss disasters. Each service replicates your personal data from your computer (or several PCs) to far-flung cloud storage servers that can be accessed from anyplace with an internet connection.

Because you can’t always rely on local backup drives to preserve your data, this is a must-have. An external backup drive connected to your computer or used as a stand-alone backup device on your home network could be destroyed in the same flood, fire, or theft that destroys your computer, leaving you with nothing.

Many corporations and other enterprises are aware of this and rely on “off-site” backups to reduce the risk of physical disasters. Consumers may have the same peace of mind with cloud backup services.

Acronis True Image, Backblaze, Carbonite Safe, CrashPlan for Small Business, IDrive Personal, and SpiderOak One are all cloud backup services that use industry-standard encryption on its own servers to protect your data.

You can also encrypt your data with your own private key with each service. However, if you lose that key, the service will be unable to assist you in recovering your data.

Some cloud backup services allow you to back up operating system files and applications, while others allow you to back up smartphones and tablets. Most can back up files to a local drive, and some even allow you to share files with others or do file synchronization or dead storage.

Because retrieving gigabytes of deleted data can take days, several of these firms can expedite the process by sending you a hard disk containing your restored data. (You can similarly “seed” an initial backup in the opposite manner with IDrive.)

However, while some of these services allow you to back up an infinite number of devices and others provide limitless online storage, none of them provide unlimited storage for an unlimited number of devices for a single flat fee. That is simply too good to be true.

Last but not least, cloud backup services aren’t always synonymous with cloud-based file-syncing services such as Dropbox or Microsoft OneDrive. They’re also not the same as file-archiving services like Amazon Glacier. At the end of this shopping guide, we clarify the differences between these groups.

Which cloud backup services are the best?

IDrive ($3.98 for the first year for Tom’s Guide readers) is our Editor’s Choice based on our testing. For a low charge, it backs up an infinite number of PCs, Macs, cellphones, and tablets. If you have numerous computers and phones, IDrive is the ideal option.

Backblaze, our budget selection, offers unlimited storage for just $70 per year, but only backs up one PC (and an external drive) per subscription. If you only have one Mac or PC and don’t want to bother about the intricacies, this is the greatest cloud backup solution.

Acronis is designed for power users, with a bewildering array of useful functions. It’s a little technical, and it may grow pricey for the ordinary home computer user, but it gives you more options than you might imagine.

CrashPlan for Small Business isn’t intended for home users, and it costs $10 per machine per month. You’ll get an unlimited amount of cloud backup storage, as well as a variety of security and scheduling settings and lightning-fast speeds. You won’t get backups for mobile devices or drive shipment, and CrashPlan’s networked-drive backups won’t operate on Windows.

SpiderOak is known for its security, encrypting your data using a one-of-a-kind key that only you have access to. (Do not misplace it.) SpiderOak subscriptions are expensive, so use it only if keeping your data safe from prying eyes is your top priority.

Carbonite was formerly synonymous with cloud-backup software, and its feature set remains extensive. Its consumer products appear to be reasonable, but read the tiny print: To receive the same quality of service as iDrive or Backblaze, you’ll have to pay more.

The greatest cloud backup service available right now:

IDrive

iDrive - Universal Cloud Storage & Backup At An Affordable Price | TechVise

SPECIFICATIONS

  • The number of gadgets is limitless.
  • The maximum storage capacity is 10TB.
  • Backups to external drives are possible.
  • Backups for mobile devices are possible.
  • Backups of the operating system and applications are available, although they are not enabled by default.
  • Yes, two-factor authentication is available via email.
  • Drive shipping: Plant and replant

REASONS TO PURCHASE

  • Option for free disk shipment and data transfer
  • Upload speeds that are quick
  • Protects mobile devices.
  • Syncing options are plentiful.

REASONS TO STAY AWAY

  • There is no option for unlimited storage.

IDrive gives you the most bang for your buck, allowing you to back up an unlimited number of machines to either a 5TB or a 10TB limit ($3.98 for the first year for Tom’s Guide readers). Our Editor’s Choice for the finest cloud backup service is this one.

IDrive’s upload speeds are fast, its mobile apps back up the devices they run on (and recognize faces in photographs for easy tagging), it has a large file-syncing option, and it even allows you send in an entire drive rather than uploading data for days.

IDrive also keeps old copies of each file for indefinite periods of time, which is useful, but keep in mind the storage limits. It also includes two-factor authentication, which is a must-have feature for any online service provider.

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Backblaze

Backblaze B2 Platform Grows Depth, Ease With Spring Release | Business Wire

SPECIFICATIONS

  • 1 computer (number of devices)
  • Storage capacity: indefinite
  • Backups to external drives are possible.
  • Backups of mobile devices are not available.
  • Backups of the operating system and applications are not available.
  • Yes, two-factor authentication is required.
  • Only restore if you’re shipping by car.

REASONS TO PURCHASE

  • Cheap, quick, easy, and straightforward
  • Storage is limitless.
  • Policy of generous drive-shipping

REASONS TO STAY AWAY

  • There are no plans for multiple computers.
  • Apps for mobile devices could be improved.

Despite a recent price increase, Backblaze is one of the cheapest cloud-backup providers, gigabyte for gigabyte. It’s the simplest to use – you can just set Backblaze and forget about it.

The generous restore-by-mail feature and the fast upload rates are also appealing. Backblaze even allows you to track down a missing or stolen computer by geolocating the Wi-Fi network it uses.

Backblaze, on the other hand, is falling behind as competitors add services like cloud syncing, file sharing, and networked disk backups. Unless you have practically infinite storage demands, it’s also not appropriate for somebody who has many devices to back up. In that instance, the expense of backing up each system on an annual basis may be worth more than numerous Backblaze memberships.

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Acronis True Image

Acronis True Image now supports Apple Silicon Macs - Security Boulevard

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Up to 5 PCs and an infinite number of mobile devices are allowed.
  • 5TB storage limit
  • Backups to external drives are possible.
  • Backups for mobile devices are possible.
  • Backups of the operating system and applications are available.
  • No, there is no two-factor authentication.
  • No, shipping by car is not an option.

REASONS TO PURCHASE

  • A large, powerful, and one-of-a-kind feature set
  • Extremely minor influence on system performance
  • A user interface that is both modern and intuitive.

REASONS TO STAY AWAY

  • With sophisticated pricing, it might become extremely costly.
  • Many of the functions are unnecessary for home users.

With a fantastic desktop program and an absurd number of backup and security options, Acronis True Image, recently rebranded as “Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office,” may be the most powerful and adaptable online-backup solution available.

It supports backups to mobile devices, external drives, and social media accounts, as well as syncing and sharing. It will upload to the cloud an image of your primary hard disk, including all apps, operating system, and other data. Antivirus software, ransomware protection, a vulnerability scanner, and a bootable file recovery tool are also included.

Acronis True Image/CPHO, on the other hand, can be the most aggravating of the finest cloud backup services, with rates that quickly rise as you add devices and storage, as well as poor web and mobile interfaces. However, if you’re a power user or looking for antivirus software, this might be the best alternative.

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CrashPlan for Small Business

CrashPlan® for Small Business | LinkedIn

SPECIFICATIONS

  • The number of devices is unlimited, and each unit is priced separately.
  • Storage capacity: indefinite
  • Backups to external drives are possible.
  • Backups of mobile devices are not available.
  • Backups of the operating system and applications are possible, but not advised.
  • Yes, two-factor authentication is required.
  • No, shipping by car is not an option.

REASONS TO PURCHASE

  • Storage is limitless.
  • Upload and download speeds are quick.
  • There are numerous security and scheduling choices available.

REASONS TO STAY AWAY

  • It is really costly.
  • During backups, resource-hungry

CrashPlan was the greatest consumer cloud backup provider until it went out of business in 2017. Its small-business plan keeps the service’s lightning-fast upload and download speeds while also adding business-friendly features like support for Red Hat and Ubuntu Linux and unlimited (if desired) file version retention.

Almost everything, including backup frequency, deleted file retention, account security, and where to retrieve restored files, is adjustable. CrashPlan backs up Linux/macOS-formatted networked disks and allows full-drive-image backups to local drives. And if you’re prepared to pay $10 per month per computer, you get limitless backup space for unlimited devices.

The consumer-friendly elements that make CrashPlan for Home so enticing, such as drive delivery and mobile-device backups, will be absent. The smartphone apps are secure, but they’re very basic. CrashPlan for Small Business uses a lot of system resources during backups, but you can reduce this by changing the application settings.

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SpiderOak One

SpiderOak One Backup Review (Updated for February 2022)

SPECIFICATIONS

  • The number of gadgets is limitless.
  • 5TB storage limit
  • Backups to external drives are possible.
  • Backups of mobile devices are not available.
  • Backups of the operating system and applications are available, although they are not enabled by default.
  • Only legacy users require two-factor authentication.
  • No, shipping by car is not an option.

REASONS TO PURCHASE

  • Backs up an unlimited number of devices
  • Strong sharing and synchronization capabilities
  • Prioritize safety.

REASONS TO STAY AWAY

  • The learning curve is steep.
  • A clumsy and perplexing user interface

SpiderOak was the first online storage (or online-syncing) service to ensure that each customer has their own personal encryption key.

Most other cloud storage providers now do the same thing, but SpiderOak also includes robust file-sharing and -syncing capabilities, as well as support for an unlimited number of workstations and, if you insist, system file and application backups.

Despite this, SpiderOak’s storage-space cost is so high that it competes with Dropbox rather than IDrive. While its file-restoration speed was incredible, its upload speed was glacial at first.

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Carbonite Safe

Carbonite Safe Core Computer Backup Review | PCMag

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Number of devices: Up to 5 PCs, each with its own price.
  • Storage capacity: indefinite
  • Backups to an external hard drive are available with the Plus or Prime plans.
  • Backups of mobile devices are not available.
  • Backups of the operating system and applications are not available.
  • Yes, two-factor authentication is required.
  • Only restore if you’re shipping by car.

REASONS TO PURCHASE

  • Storage is limitless.
  • Backup-flagging technique that is simple to use

REASONS TO STAY AWAY

  • Desirable features come at an additional expense.
  • Upload speeds are slow.
  • Apps for mobile devices are no longer available.

Carbonite has limitless capacity, which is a wonderful feature to have in a cloud backup service. It also features a simple user interface that displays which files have been backed up completely, partially, or not at all.

However, you should check the fine print because Carbonite’s Basic pricing tier does not automatically back up huge files, external devices, or any type of video file. You’ll have to upgrade to the Plus or Premium plans to obtain those capabilities, which are identical to IDrive or Backblaze’s basic plans but cost significantly more. (Carbonite’s prices have been temporarily lowered by 30%, putting them closer to those of its competitors.)

A single account can support many machines, but there is no volume discount; each subsequent machine costs the same as the first. The upload speed is slow. Carbonite’s popular mobile apps are also no longer available, with no indication of when they will be available again.

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How can we determine which cloud backup services are the best?

We considered a number of aspects, including storage costs, file restoration ease, computer resource utilization, unique features, and ease of use and installation. Upload speed is particularly important because, while your initial backup takes only a few minutes, a backup of several hundred gigabytes can take days or even weeks.

Online backup services that allow you to mail in a hard drive full of data to start the process or send you one to restore your data get bonus points.

On a 2017 15-inch Apple MacBook Pro booted into Windows 10, we tested and evaluated. On a Google Pixel XL 2 running Android 8.1 Oreo, mobile apps were tested. We used GlassWire to track data transfer rates on the MacBook, as well as Windows’ built-in Resource Monitor to track CPU consumption.

Before the following test, each cloud backup service was evaluated separately and then uninstalled from both devices. There were 16.8GB of documents, images, movies, and music in the test set of files to back up. We uploaded the data to the cloud servers of each provider, then restored a 1.12GB subset of the files to the laptop.

TDS Telecom Extreme 300 Fiber internet service was used in the testing environment, which was a residence in Middleton, Wisconsin. According to Speedtest.net, internet speeds during testing averaged 280 megabits per second (Mbps) down and 120 Mbps up.

Online archiving vs. online backup vs. online syncing

The software of an online-syncing service produces a cloud-based mirror of a group of files or folders on your device and pushes out identical copies of those files to all of your linked devices so that you can access them right away. Consider the syncing service to be the hub of a spoked wheel, with all of your connected devices at the spokes’ extremities.

Cloud backup services are more user-friendly. They copy all or most of the files and folders on your computer to their own cloud servers on a regular or periodic basis. An online backup service would resemble a straight line between your machine(s) and the cloud server, rather than the spoked-wheel representation of a file-syncing service.

Your data is stored on external backup servers until you require it, which hopefully will never be. Most cloud-backup providers provide large quantities of storage for a monthly charge that is significantly less than an online-syncing service, gigabyte for gigabyte.

Cloud-archiving services like Box or Google Cloud are the cheapest of all. These allow you to transfer files you don’t need right away to web services, saving up space on your computer.

Cloud-archiving services can be dirt-cheap, with monthly fees as low as a few pennies per gigabyte, but there’s usually a charge to download files again. (It’s assumed that you’ll never need to download the entire archive.) Backblaze offers its own B2 cloud storage solution, which is quite inexpensive.


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