How to Find the Best Online Backup Service
Have you ever lost a file or had a computer crash? Sooner or later, everyone experiences this frustrating situation. Backing up your computer is an extremely important part of protecting your data and security. It is important that users set their machines to automatically and continuously back up important files. If you do not, your data is vulnerable to computer crashes, viruses, theft, and accidental deletion.
In this ever-changing computer climate, it is essential to proactively choose a backup method rather than waiting for disaster to strike.
Why is Backup Necessary?
Backing up your data helps protect your precious information from unforeseen circumstances. Backups can help prevent these potentially devastating issues:
- Accidental deletion of files
- Natural disasters
- Hardware failure
Why Should You Use an Online Backup Service?
Data is safer when backed up in multiple locations. Many users have external drives or network drives located in their home or office; this is great for a first line of backup, but does not protect against your data being stolen or destroyed. With an online provider also backing up your data, your files are safely stored away from home, and backups from multiple computers can be managed from one account.
Here are some reasons to consider using an online backup service to supplement your strategy at home:
- Offsite backups are “safe” from theft
- Data is not subject to natural disasters/fires
- You’ll receive virtually unlimited storage
- No worries about managing the backup process
- No need to buy additional hardware
Features to look for:
- Encryption before data leaves computer (privacy)
- User-friendly software for managing your backups
- Support for multiple machines
- Optimal backup performance
- Virtually unlimited storage space
- Continuous backups
- Easy restoration of files/courier restore (they can send you a drive with your backed-up data on it)
- Optional seeded backup (they send you a drive, you back up the data, and then send the drive back)
Uploading Data vs. Your Entire Drive:
Most online backup services upload only your data files, excluding operating system files and application data. Usually, backing up your entire drive is the best way to safeguard your data and simplify the restoration process (you should do this for your local backups). In the case of online cloud back ups, where uploading 500GB can take up to a week, backing up only personal data can mean faster uploads and faster recovery of data. However, this means you will need to be very careful about selecting all of the files you want to protect, and you will need to reinstall the operating system and your applications before restoring your data from the cloud.
Crashplan is Code42’s online backup solution. Their service is designed to help set up continuous backups to protect your data in three different locations: at home, away from home, and in the cloud. You can use Crashplan’s free software for backing up at home or to back up to a drive anywhere else (even at a friend or relative’s house/office), but Crashplan will charge a subscription fee for the cloud-based backup services.
OS Supported: Windows, Mac OS X, Linux
Mobile Apps: iOS, Android, Windows Phone
- Unlimited online storage
- Continuous backups
- Unlimited file versions retained
- Restoring of files from any web browser
- Seeded backup and courier restore
Performance: Crashplan’s initial backup can take a long time (depending on how much data you’re trying to upload), but subsequent continuous backups complete quickly in the background, with little to no effect on the rest of the computer’s performance.
Usability: Crashplan’s interface for backing up is by far one of the best. In terms of ease of use, Crashplan is straightforward yet capable. In terms of look/feel, Crashplan is the cleanest and prettiest of all its competitors.
Company: Founded 2001, 400+ employees, headquartered in Minneapolis, MN
- Unlimited cloud storage for one user: $5.00 a month (for one year) or $5.99 a month with no commitment
- Unlimited cloud storage for 2-10 users: $12.50 a month (for one year)
- Unlimited online storage for business: $10/month
- Enterprise plan available
- 448-bit encryption before data leaves the computer
- 128-bit AES transmission
Free Trial: The free version of Crashplan’s software includes 30 days of online backup.
Costumer Support: All cloud backup users get access to priority email/live chat/phone support, forums, and free updates.
Conclusion: Crashplan offers secure and unlimited cloud backups, with a user-friendly interface, at a reasonable price. Their backup software is free, and their cloud backup options are affordable. With unlimited storage, top-notch security, and easy data recovery, Crashplan can certainly put your mind at ease. We have been using them for several years without a problem.
Crashplan is especially good for backing up 3-10 computers, Macintosh users, and high volumes of data, including videos.
Carbonite is an online backup service focused on providing the best possible cloud experience for anyone, from parents to small businesses. It is easy to see why over one million customers, including small businesses, trust Carbonite with securing their files. Their services are affordable and their customer support is always on hand to assist with any issues regarding uploading or accessing data in the Carbonite cloud.
OS Supported: The basic plans work with XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Intel-based Macs with OS X 10.6, 10.7, 10.8 or 10.9. Pro plans (Plus and Prime) only work with XP, Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8.
Mobile Apps: Carbonite does provide mobile apps for devices running any OS mentioned above.
- Allows customers to tailor their plans to fit their budget and needs.
- Plus and Prime Plans also come with an external hard drive for additional storage.
- “Mirror Image” backup service creates an exact copy of your computer’s hard drive for easy recovery and restoration in the event of any issues.
- There is no limit to how much backup space customers are allowed to use, no matter which plan they choose.
- Back up anything from photos to documents and even computer settings.
Performance: Carbonite plans are easy to use and excellent for families seeking a secure place to store precious memories, or businesses that need to lock down important documents and customer information. Uploading data into the cloud is fast and easy, although downloading it back onto your computer can sometimes take awhile.
Usability: Carbonite takes pride in their ability to provide secure access to cloud data at home, at the office, or on the go. This is why it is one of the easiest online backup services available. The interface is designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as easy to navigate.
Company: Founded in 2005, 400+ employees, headquartered in Boston, MA
- Personal Plan for individual computers starts at $59.99 a year
- Pro Plan for unlimited number of computers starts at $269.99 a year
- Server Plan for companies with databases and applications starts at $799.99 a year
- Appliance Plan Disaster Recovery available through Carbonite Partners
- World-class network security/encryption
- Best-in-class operations and specialized security software
Free Trial: Carbonite has a free trial for both the Personal and Pro plans. Personal is only allowed on one computer, but Pro gives businesses or families the opportunity to try on multiple computers, or even a server.
Costumer Support: Customer support is available 24/7 online, over the phone, through the mobile apps, or by email.
Because backing up and storing files in the cloud is the only product Carbonite offers, it is the perfect solution for families and small businesses that need an easy-to-use backup site without all the bells and whistles.
Introduction: Mozy by EMC is one of the world’s largest online backup service providers. Serving millions of individuals and companies across the globe, they are a trusted name in cloud backup and restoration. Their cloud backup sync system has won awards, and their customer service is respected by individuals and businesses around the world.
OS Supported: Mozy can be run on all Apple OSX and Windows-powered computers and tablets.
Mobile Apps: Mozy provides mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices.
- Automatic backup with the option to schedules as needed
- Military-strength security options to protect data, photos, and any other stored files
- U.S.–based customer support for easy access and quick service
- Data shuttle service speeds up initial uploads for more data safely stored in shorter amounts of time
- Web-based administrative tools for easy access anywhere
Performance: Upload speeds can be slow, but once the data is in the cloud, it is easy to access and recover. Some Mac users have had issues with running the program on their computers, but most Windows users say it is the easiest online backup service to use with their systems.
Usability: The Mozy Administration interface is one of the simplest to use for individual customers and large corporations alike. Mozy provides customers with the ability to individualize their administration settings and apps, and to access different features when needed.
Company: Founded in 2005, thousands of employees as part of the EMC corporation, headquartered in Seattle, WA
- MozyHome Edition provides 50 GB for $5.99 a month, 125 GB for $9.99 a month on one computer
- MozyPro Edition provides 10 GB to 1 TB of data storage to companies with multiple computers, starting at $19.99 a month for a monthly plan and ranging to $419.79 for a 2-year package.
- SSAE 16 Type 2 audit and ISO certification processes
- Mozy Home Free Version is available for individuals and families looking into this online backup service
- Mozy Pro is available for a free 30-day trial for businesses of all sizes.
Costumer Support: Mozy Customer Support is available all day, every day for Mozy online backup clients. Reach them by phone, through the mobile app, or via the website.
Introduction: Backblaze is one of those online backup companies that was founded and has built a career on making cloud storage easier for everyone, from an individual saving photos of a recent camping trip to businesses looking for a secure space to store their customer information. Highly devoted to their customers, Backblaze is still offering the same low prices for their services as when they first began.
OS Supported: Backblaze is designed to run effectively on Mac OS and PCs.
Mobile Apps: Backblaze mobile is available for both iPhones and Androids.
- Unlimited backup and file storage options, no matter which plan you choose
- Automatic uploading for all of your files, with the option to exclude anything you do not want uploaded
- Option to upload all external hard drives you have attached to your computer at the time of uploading
- Options to have flash drive or external hard drive sent through FedEx to you, anywhere in the world
Performance: According to Backblaze data, the average customer takes about 2 weeks for their first upload into the cloud, depending on the amount of data transferred and the speed of the Internet connection. Backblaze is recommended for customers looking for quality, speed, and security at a reasonable price.
Usability: The Backblaze interface and apps are two of the most user-friendly options available for individual customers and small businesses without an in-house IT team.
Company: Founded over 7 years ago (2007); headquartered in San Mateo, CA
- Backblaze is $5 a month per computer. Other packages include buying a year subscription for $50 or a 2-year subscription for $95.
- No Java connection to limit attacks from external sources
- Ability to locate lost or stolen computers through an Internet connection
- All files are encrypted and require a customer’s personal key code to access
Free Trial: Backblaze provides a 15-day free trial of their product with no credit card requirement.
Costumer Support: Backblaze’s customer support is always available by phone or email. The company also has a community blog accessible through their website, where customers can get DIY help from other customers working through similar problems.
Jungle Disk (part of the Rackspace corporation) is one of the least expensive but beloved online backup services available. Specializing in small businesses, Jungle Disk only charges 15 cents per GB used and allows customers to choose what files are uploaded, as well as how and when they are uploaded.
OS Supported: Mac, Windows, and Linux-based computers
Mobile Apps: iPhone and Android apps
- Customers keep the encryption key, so not even Jungle Disk management can see the information
- Provides customers the opportunity to share files between linked computers anywhere with an Internet connection
- Files kept up-to-date in the cloud with Multi-Way Sync
- Keep files organized and easily accessible with de-duplication and advanced compression options
Performance: Jungle Disk has no monthly limit on how much data can be uploaded, accessed, or stored. It is also known for sending regular web-based reports to customers whenever data is accessed or uploaded to help prevent data from being stolen or accessed.
Usability: For the most part, the Jungle Disk interface is user-friendly and easy to navigate, but can get tricky when it comes to searching for data that was not uploaded or was uploaded into the Jungle Disk Backup Vault.
Company: Headquartered in San Antonio, TX
- Jungle Disk is $4 a month per user, plus any additional storage fees
- Jungle Disk Server is $5 a month per server, plus any additional storage fees
- AES-256 encryption
- Personalized keycodes
Free Trial: No Free Trial Offer
Costumer Support: Jungle Disk customer service is available 24/7 through email on their support page. They also have a chat option for immediate questions.
SpiderOak prides themselves on being the most private and secure online backup service available to individuals and small businesses alike. The founders were dedicated to helping their customers discover that data stored online can be just as private and secure as if it were stored on in-house servers that demand a lot of space and energy to power.
OS Supported: Mac, Windows, and Linux-based computer systems
Mobile Apps: SpiderOak App is available for iPhones and Androids
- Automatically backup anything from music to documents, preventing loss should something happen to your computer or server
- SpiderOak Hive gives customers the option to drag and drop files into their storage space from anywhere with an Internet connection
- Share individual files with others without risking all of the information in the cloud
- “Zero-Knowledge” encryption always protects your data so it can only be accessed by you
Performance: SpiderOak is efficient but can get overcomplicated with their “unlimited devices” option. Uploading and sharing files is quick and easy from virtually any kind of device.
Usability: The SpiderOak interface is simple to access and organize. It also makes it easy for customers to change their settings and uploading options, so that only selected files are brought into the cloud, and only when the customer wants them to be uploaded.
Company: Founded in 2007; headquartered in Northbrook, IL
- Professional hosting is $8.33 per user per month for 1 year
- Blue SMB, Enterprise, and the Blue Enterprise Private Cloud Hosted is $5 per user per month for 1 year
- Zero-Knowledge security system protects everything from username and password to every file uploaded into the SpiderOak cloud
Free Trial: No free trial offered
- SpiderOak customer support is always available through email
- The SpiderOak website also has video tutorials, a manual and a Frequently Asked Questions section
Bitcasa can be used for small businesses, but is really designed for individuals looking to store their photos and videos in the cloud for easy backup and access options. With community and family always in mind, Bitcasa makes it easy for subscribers to share their music, videos, photos, and so much more with anyone inside or outside the Bitcasa program.
OS Supported: The Bitcasa Infinite Drive can be used on any computer running a Windows, Mac, or Linux OS. Bitcasa also works well with Google Chrome.
Mobile Apps: The Bitcasa Mobile App is available for iPhones, iPads, Androids, and Windows-powered tablets
- Bitcasa users are able to access their data anywhere, anytime, and from any device (even offline)
- Bitcasa prides themselves on their “worry-free” backup system, which will ensure that user data is protected no matter what happens to their computer
- Bitcasa also uses smart caching technology that stores “favorite” files locally so they can be accessed even when a computer or device is in offline mode
- Unlimited storage: If a user needs more space, all they have to do is contact Bitcasa for more storage space
Performance: Bitcasa is reliable as far as performance is concerned, but does depend on the level of Internet connection.
Usability: Many customers prefer Bitcasa to other online backup and cloud storage programs because of its user-friendly features. However, some users are concerned by the lack of sharing features compared to similar products.
Company: Founded in 2011; headquartered in San Mateo, CA
- Bitcasa Premium is 1000 GB for $10 a month
- Bitcasa Pro is 5000 GB for $49 a month
- Bitcasa Infinite is Unlimited Storage for $99 a month
- Bitcasa encrypts each file before it is uploaded, so the user is the only one who can access the data once it is in the cloud
- Bitcasa files are encrypted with AES-256
- Bitcasa also uses Amazon S3 for data storage to help prevent interference from outside sources while files are uploaded or accessed
Free Trial: Bitcasa does provide a free edition of their storage system. Users can get up to 20 GB of storage at no charge.
- The Bitcasa Help and Support Center is available on their website, and accessible from computers and mobile devices anytime of day.
IDrive is another online backup service dedicated to making file backup and recovery a painless and efficient task for individuals and small businesses alike. In addition to file storage and system backups, IDrive is also known for helping their customers create their own mobile apps to launch on iPhones, Androids, or both. In addition to regular files, IDrive also allows users to upload and safely store their Synology and QNAP files.
OS Supported: Windows, Mac, and Linux OS
Mobile Apps: IDrive Mobile Apps work for iPhones and Androids
- IDrive’s Versioned Filing System saves up to 30 previous versions of each file edited within the cloud.
- Incremental and Compression Data Transfer saves the customer’s bandwidth by only transferring files that have been selected by the user and compressed.
- Bandwidth Throttle options allow the customer to decide how much of their bandwidth is being used to upload or restore data from the cloud.
- Files are “highly scalable” so they can be easily shared, transferred, and accessed on multiple Internet platforms.
Performance: Individual users have found IDrive’s performance to be exemplary, while small business users transferring large amounts of data have found IDrive’s uploading process to be painfully slow compared to other online backup services.
Usability: Many customers are satisfied with IDrive’s setup and user-friendly interface. There are concerns, however, when it comes to getting in contact with customer support during off hours.
Company: Founded in 1995; headquartered in Calabasas, CA
- IDrive Basic is 5 GB plus 5 GB Sync space for free
- IDrive Pro Personal is 300 GB plus 300 GB Sync space for $49.50 a year
- IDrive Pro Business is 250 GB plus 250 GB Sync space for $99.50 a year
- All data is double encrypted with military-grade file encryption
- IDrive servers are regularly monitored for weak points and security threats
- Users create a private encryption key that only they possess
- IDrive backup servers are regularly backed up, so there is always an extra copy of customer data if something were to happen to the original backup
Free Trial: IDrive Basic is free for beginning members.
- IDrive Customer Support is available by phone Monday through Friday, 6 am to 6 pm
- IDrive also has live chat options available 24/7
Norton Backup is one of the country’s top online backup services from one of the most trusted names in online security. It provides professional-grade online backup services to customers storing their personal music, videos, photos, or files, as well as small businesses looking for secure file storage. Norton is dedicated to helping their customers safely store their data in the cloud so that when virtual disaster strikes, they are able to quickly and easily access it without missing a beat.
OS Supported: Mac and Windows
Mobile Apps: Norton Backup Mobile Apps are available for use on iPhones, iPads, Androids, and tablets
- Norton Backup offers customers the option to backup up to five computers or devices
- Expandable storage options are also available when individuals or businesses need more space for their files
- The “set it and forget it” backup option takes the worry out of whether or not customers have backed up their system in awhile
Performance: Norton Backup is one of the top-rated performers in the country. Their service is fast, efficient, and user-friendly. The only major concerns among current customers is that the program can be a bit slow to boot up, depending on how long it has been since the program was booted and how much data is being transferred at the time.
Usability: Customers love Norton Backup’s numerous user-friendly options when uploading and accessing data in the cloud. One of the most popular features among customers is the option to search through uploaded files by keyword to find files with a specific name or regarding a specific topic.
Company: Norton/Symantec founded in 1995; headquartered in Mountain View, CA
- Norton Online Backup Service provides 25 GB of storage space for $49 a year
- Government-grade encryption with the option to re-download recently or accidentally deleted files
- 128-bit SSL encryption
Free Trial: Norton Backup does offer a 90-day free trial of their services
- The Norton website provides an extensive FAQs section that covers most basic issues and is available 24/7
- Norton also offers live chat options through their website
- Customers can get help from other Norton customers through the website’s Help Forums
- Norton also provides phone support 24/7 for all of their customers
There are many online backup companies to choose from. Each has different features as well as pricing. Examine your needs to pick one. The sooner you start backing up, the better. To go forward, you must backup.