Technology has made consumers’ lives far easier and more comfortable. In fact, most of us can’t be away from our desktops, laptops, and other devices for more than a few hours at a time because our day-to-day lives have become invariably tied up to technology and the internet. As a result, we accumulate a lot of data even in our home computers. But then the unexpected occurs: technology fails us and we lose our data. Outages and freak accidents happen, laptops crash, and viruses wipe our hard drives clean.
You may have heard this countless times before, and cliché as it may sound, there is truth to this–it’s only a matter of time before you fall victim to data loss. The good news is, you don’t have to sit around waiting for that time to come because there are steps you can take now to ensure that you always have access to your data.
One way is to have a local backup of your data on a hard drive. But to make sure all bases are covered (because hard drives can get stolen, lost, corrupted, or damaged during natural disasters), it’s also wise to have an online backup service. An online or cloud backup solution allows you to store your data remotely and access it from virtually any internet-connected computer when you need it.
With so many online backup solutions out there, it’s difficult to sift through every single one of them just to find the right fit. So to make the process easier for you, we’ve compiled a list of the five best performing cloud backup services today. Note that we purposely did not give a definite best-to-least ranking for these service providers because users have different needs and you should be able to choose according to what you feel is most suitable for your situation.
Now onto that list:
Pros: Easy to use; offers unlimited storage for one computer
Cons: 128-bit AES encryption (though still good) falls short of others’ 256-bit level encryption; lacks advanced backup features
Best for: Novice users who have just one computer and looking for a no-frills backup service.
Many of the online backup offerings today offer a ton of features: sharing, syncing, collaborating, streaming online, unlimited versioning, and more. But not Backblaze. Rather than promising the works, Backblaze instead, promises something that may be far more compelling to many users–simplicity. It operates on a straightforward principle that allows you to get your data backed up without having to exert much thought or effort, and that is to backup everything.
For just $5 per month (or the even cheaper $50 for one year or $95 for two years), you already get unlimited storage for your computer. Once you download the software and set it up in a couple of clicks, Backblaze will take care of the rest. Initial backup can take a while depending on the volume of data you currently have stored, but once it’s done, the service will automatically update whatever files have been changed and upload any new files added. Because it shines most in keeping things simple, Backblaze is the backup service you would recommend to your 75-year old grandma or a 7-year old kid.
Pros: Offers 15-day free trial and unlimited storage for one computer; easy to use
Cons: Other features require higher-tier plan; lacks sharing and collaboration features
Best for: Home users who have a lot of data on a single computer
Having been around since 2006, Carbonite has established itself as a household name in the cloud backup space. Longevity is one thing; but at a glance, it’s also easy to see why the brand has managed to maintain its popularity among consumers. It is one of the few remaining providers that offer unlimited backup storage for one computer ($59.99/year or $5/mo). In addition to its basic backup capabilities, Carbonite also offers more features for an added cost. The Personal Plus plan ($99.99/yr) gives you the ability to backup external drives and create a mirror image of your disk, while the Personal Prime plan further adds automatic video backup ($149.99/mo).
Carbonite’s software is easy to install and use. Like other similar services, the initial upload can take a while, but afterwards, everything is pretty much done automatically. You can have the software work continuously in the background or set the backup to once a day to avoid having it hog your bandwidth. The restore process is also simple, security good enough (128-bit Blowfish), and customer support available for all channels. Overall, Carbonite is an affordable online backup solution that is nowhere near perfect, but can be relied on to do the essentials.
Pros: Unlimited storage for more than one computer; fast processing speeds; topnotch security
Cons: No file syncing or sharing options
Best for: Users with multiple computers and a large volume of data
Crashplan lives up to its name in that it presents itself as a very sound cloud backup option. In other words, a reliable “plan” in case of a “crash.” If you’re looking to backup all computers within your home network, this is really one that’s worth looking into. Its Unlimited Individual plan is comparable with other providers ($59.99/yr or $5.99/mo), but the Family Unlimited plan is where you really get your money’s worth. For $149.99/year or $13.99/mo you can backup an unlimited amount of data from as many as 10 computers.
Crashplan also has a lot of things going for it aside from its affordable pricing. It rates highly in many other aspects including speed, ease of use, and security. A highlight of CrashPlan’s service is being able to backup to a friend’s (or a family member’s) computer, which can be quite useful when you want an easily accessible, off-site copy of your backup. For offering great value for your money and going beyond traditional backup to online servers, CrashPlan is a must-try service.
Pros: Unlimited computers under a single plan; feature-packed for its affordable price
Cons: Storage is limited to 1TB; customer support could be better
Best for: Users with multiple computers looking for more features at a reasonable cost
Right out of the gate, iDrive makes a strong case for itself by being one of the very few online backup providers that offer a backup service for unlimited number of devices under a single, reasonably-priced subscription plan ($59.50/yr). Granted, the storage volume has a cap of 1 TB but that‘s still plenty enough for most users. But iDrive’s attractive pricing is only one of the good things it has going for it, as it offers a feature set that includes file syncing, file sharing, disk image backup, drive seeding, and hard drive archiving. Its powerful mobile apps–available for iOS, Android, and Windows mobile–comes as a separate $4.99-per-year plan, but still worth a mention considering that it’s dirt cheap and is not offered by any other online backup vendor.
The iDrive interface is clean and the backup and restore processes easy to do. Despite its numerous features, the user should have no trouble initiating what he wants to do, be it syncing, sharing, or playing media. Speeds, while not the fastest, were no slowpokes either, and puts it firmly in the middle of the pack. iDrive online backup has consistently received great feedback from tech reviewers, and it really doesn’t come as a surprise. For its price and features, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth.
Pros: Great syncing and sharing features; intuitive user interface
Cons: Quite pricey compared with others; account cancellation can be difficult
Best for: Users who could use the automatic syncing/sharing feature and are willing to pay a higher price for it
SugarSync is not your average, run-of-the-mill online backup service. While yes, backup is one of its features, it does far more other functions that it’s hard to put it squarely in the online backup service box. Sugarsync syncs files across devices and then shares these for collaboration. This means files are continually updated, backed up, and synced with your other devices in real time. Even better, it supports remote access so you can view a document from any web-connected device. SugarSync also saves up to 5 previous versions of a file. And for all the features that it provides, SugarSync still manages to make their interface intuitive and user-friendly.
But not everything about this service is sweet. For one, SugarSync’s pricing is not competitive with other providers. While its plans support unlimited number of devices, the storage allocation is rather limited for its price. For instance, the lowest-priced plan is at $7.49/mo for 100GB of storage. The biggest storage for individuals is 500GB, but this already costs a whopping $24.99/mo. If you’re looking for a solution that offers more than just backup, SugarSync indeed comes with all the bells and whistles. While the pricing is a bit prohibitive, it does offer a free 5GB account (for 90 days) so you have nothing to lose by trying it out.
As new threats to our data become more prevalent, having a data backup, whether online or locally, has become even more crucial. Find the best online backup solution for you now and start protecting your data.