The data on your computer isn’t just ones and zeros. Rather, in many ways, your data is your life. Your data is your family photos, music collection, personal financial records and other real, tangible items you don’t want to lose.
Online backup is an easy, secure and effective way to guard all of your important files. With cloud backup storage, your files are stored in multiple servers around the country – or around the world – which are carefully monitored and guarded by the storage provider.
Even if one server happens to have a problem, your files will remain safe because they’re stored in multiple locations. If your local files are ever deleted or destroyed, retrieval from the cloud is quick and easy. You can even back up your local files automatically! Backup cloud storage is there when you need it and out-of-the-way when you don’t.
Picking the right type of online backup is obviously very important. After all, you’re trusting the company with your most important data. But how do you know which company is the best? We took a close look at the best online backup services and carefully rated them on a variety of key factors.
Looking for in-depth and reliable online backup reviews that you can trust? Check out our complete guide below:
This is our top choice based on the variety of the features and overall reliability of the service. They offer a lot of flexibility in how you can control your backup. Great for individuals, JustCloud also excels at backup for files accessed by large groups.
File transfer is a snap, allowing you to create custom links for user access to files and folders. Many people, each using multiple devices, can easily work on one project simultaneously without risking data loss. A feature called “file versioning” lets you recover previous drafts, so information can’t be accidentally written over (which is certainly a risk with a large group).
- Reliable company with both technical knowledge and attentive customer focus.
- Files can be synced across multiple devices including full mobile support.
- Automated backups where you set the schedule.
- Intuitive design is easy to learn.
MyPCBackup is another high-ranking choice suitable for both individuals and large organizations. In an industry where company reputation is very important, MyPCBackup has rock solid reliability. This is because MyPCBackup is part of a network of cloud services owned by the U.K.-based Just Develop It.
MyPCBackup is designed for users who primarily want to back up their music, photos and other files. Different companies within the Just Develop It portfolio focus on cloud storage and other services. If you’re looking for a site designed solely for backup, MyPCBackup is a great choice.
- Easy-to-set backup scheduling can be tailored to your specific needs.
- File versioning and incremental backups mean your data will never be accidentally written over.
- Automated backups can be set and then left to run independently.
- No file restrictions. Back up music, movies, images and whatever other type of data you like.
If the name “carbonite” sounds familiar but you don’t know why, this might help: Carbonite is the substance which traps Han Solo in The Empire Strikes Back. Yes, this company is really named after that specifically. But like the fictional substance itself, this service provides rock solid storage.
- Excellent reputation with over 10 years of operation.
- Options for unlimited storage. This is great for both large organizations or individuals with large amounts of data.
- Automatic cloud backup and option for automatic external drive backup.
- Encryption levels suitable for compliance with HIPPA, GLBA, FERPA, and more.
Why Use an Online Backup Service?
Online backup is a secure, easy and reliable way to protect your data. Unlike physical drives, cloud storage is impervious to physical damage such as fires, floods and earthquakes. Plus, cloud storage frees up space on your local hard drives or servers. You can scale your data storage space to always suit your needs, so you’re never paying for space you don’t need or servers you don’t use.
Some files are simply too important to lose. Photos, for instance, can’t be re-created. Certain types of financial information needs to be available at all times. In order to protect these important files, you’ll want to store backup copies off-site.
Here are three key reasons many individuals and organizations prefer an online backup service:
Automatically Backup All Your Files
Don’t worry about online accessibility. With cloud storage, you can still work on files even if you’re offline. Online backup services commonly feature automatic file syncing once your device is back online.
Here’s an example:
You’re on an airplane, using Google Docs on your tablet to update a document. When the plane lands, your tablet connects to the internet. You can set Google Drive to automatically sync your file to the cloud backup storage space. Now this most recent version of the file is saved securely in the cloud.
Access Your Files from Anywhere in the World
Online backup is accessible from anywhere you have an internet connection. In order to make backup as easy as possible, you want a service with full mobile support. This allows you to sync work across multiple devices automatically.
When selecting an online backup provider, consider the country of operation. This is especially important if privacy is high on your list of “must haves.” Different countries have different laws regarding privacy and where the provider is located can have a big effect on your legal rights.
Automatically Encrypt Your Files for Extra Security
Of course, this ease of access needs to be balanced by security. You’ll want automatic file encryption. Encryption is in the news lately as the government attempts to compel major tech companies to unlock various security measures.
Basically, encryption is a method to encode data where it can’t be read by third parties. In order to ensure the highest level of security, you want your cloud backup to use the following two types of encryption:
- Local Encryption - This is encryption on your local PC. This type of encryption prevents viewing by unauthorized parties.
- Server Side Encryption - This type of encryption protects data while in storage. This is encryption used by the online backup company. Server side encryption can be quite complicated, but security experts Symantec report that server side encryption is a vital part of keeping data safe on the cloud.
Even aside from your personal privacy, encryption is necessary in cloud storage in order to prevent corporate espionage, malicious hackers and identity thieves.
What to Look for in an Online Backup Company?
There’s no one feature which makes a cloud storage company “the best.” Instead, you want to look at the mixture of features offered and determine which company can best meet your needs. Here’s what to consider:
Backup and Restoration Features
Don’t leave your backups to memory. Almost all cloud backup companies offer automatic backups. This is a great way to add new pictures, music, video and other data to your PC or mobile device without having to personally remember to manually back it up.
What you really want to look for here is the flexibility of the automated backup. Can you set a schedule which will work for your specific needs? Also, make sure setting the schedule is easy.
Security and Reliability
Online cloud backup, with appropriate server side and local encryption, will keep your files safe and confidential while also allowing for easy group collaboration. On-site backups, such as external storage drives, are still at risk for physical damage.
If your office was damaged in a fire, earthquake, plumbing accident or the like, would all the backup storage drives be safe? Cloud storage prevents your data from physical harm.
External drives are also at risk for viruses, malware and other malicious activity. As long as your external drive is connected to your PC, unwanted program can access your backup. In fact, these reasons are why PC World recommends you never use an external storage drive for both backup and storage.
If you’re willing to pay, there’s virtually no limit to the amount of storage space you can have. The key is to not pay for space you’ll never need or use. In fact, many cloud storage companies offer a free account option.
Paid accounts typically offer more storage space and more features. When you understand your backup needs, you’ll be able to easily identify the amount of space and the features you’ll need. This way you can avoid paying for empty storage.
There are a few services which offer unlimited storage space. We have the rundown on these service a little bit further down.
The idea of cloud computing can be complicated. Thankfully, you don’t have to understand many of the details as to how the cloud works in order to reap the benefits. What you do want to look for, however, is cloud software which is easy to use.
When choosing an online backup provider, take a look at their platform, including their mobile app. This is a situation where using any available free trails can be useful. Here’s what to look for:
- Is the design clean, clear, and intuitive?
- Are all the features thoroughly explained and able to be accessed easily?
- Is restoring backups easy and fast?
You don’t need to be a computer expert to efficiently set up online backup. Don’t be afraid to sign up for a few free plans from various services and play around with the features. If the free plan seems confusing, try different services until you find something you like. The vast majority of online backup services understand the bulk of their users don’t have a large technical background, so their services are designed to be as easy as possible to use.
While online backup is designed to run smoothly, there might occasionally be a problem you’ll need help with. If any issues arise, you’ll want excellent customer support you can count on.
How accessible is customer support? Can you contact a representative via phone or live chat? Most services provide email support, but you’ll want to make sure you get a response to your problem in a timely manner.
Reading online reviews of cloud storage providers is a great way to gain a better understanding of their customer service. You can also submit a “test case.” This is when you seek help for a minor problem with the storage, where you’re more concerned with the help you receive than the actual solution.
Who Should Use Online Backup?
Here are three groups who benefit from online data backup but might not even know it:
According to a study a by the University of Virginia and Microsoft, over 81% of college students preferred to use a tablet in the classroom when given the opportunity. With cloud storage, students can back up notes, assignments and more automatically. Auto syncing is perfect for campus buildings where internet connectivity might be inconsistent.
Average PC Users
There’s a popular idea that online backup is mainly used by large organizations. You might have heard of Cloud First, a program by the federal government to include cloud backup whenever possible. But cloud computing is a great choice for individual PC users.
Many individuals use a physical external storage drive instead of cloud storage, but we don’t recommend this. Physical storage drives can still be damaged unless they’re stored off-site, which isn’t practical for most home users. Cloud backup gives you the power of your own server with none of the hassle.
Don’t worry if you’ve never used online backup before. Accessing your files through the cloud is often easier than setting up an external storage drive. The technical hurdle for setting up automated, fairly sophisticated cloud backup is far lower than many people realize.
Small Business Owners
Online data backup has many uses for small business owners. You can use automated backup storage for financial records, inventory and other business data. Cloud backup has a huge advantage in terms of accessibility.
The backup software will allow you to set user permissions. This can be helpful in a small business setting. For instance, some team members might need access to all financial records, while others may only need access to less sensitive material like inventory records.
Other Cloud Backup Services to Consider
There are lots of cloud services out there. Aside from the ones we recommended above, here are three other services which offer online backup services:
As the name implies, this service is designed to help you recover from a catastrophic data loss. Developed by the American-based tech company Code42, Crashplan was originally designed to be a Facebook-like desktop app. Eventually, however, Code42 realized their service would work better as a standalone backup product.
Crashplan prides itself on being simple enough for a beginning user but versatile enough for “tech geeks.” They offer multi-location backup, automated scheduling and the ability to connect up to 10 computers at once.
Crashplan’s biggest selling point is their unlimited storage. In fact, they’re one of the few online backup companies to offer unlimited storage. This is perfect for large organizations who need to back up large amounts of data. Also a great option for the individual user who has a lot of movies, music and other files which might take up too much space on a home hard drive.
Founded is 2007, BackBlaze has consistently been fast-growing and adaptable to the changing needs of cloud users. This is another provider which offers unlimited storage space. What sets them apart from the competition, however, is their commitment to fast speeds.
If you only retrieve your stored files occasionally, you might not particularly care about fast retrieval speeds. In most cases, you’ll be able to get your files back in a few days no matter who your provider is. But if you have a frequent need for file retrieval, you probably want a faster service.
BackBlaze offers some of the fastest retrieval speeds in the industry. They even offer a free Speed Calculator so you can see how fast retrieval will be for you with your specific internet setup.
They also offer complete mail retrieval. In fact, they’ll actually FedEx you an USB flash drive with important files so you respond to emails even after a total data loss.
iDrive combines cloud backup with file syncing, allowing you more options beyond traditional backup. Features available include full Windows integration, so you can easily backup files directly within the programs you already use. All data is also encrypted.
Unlike the other recommendations listed here, iDrive doesn’t have unlimited storage space. Instead, they offer a free 5BG of storage as well as several paid plans. While the unlimited storage is missed, we still have no problem recommending iDrive. This is due to iDrive’s variety of extended features which include offline file retrieval and multiple device backup.