The Best Online Backup Services 2018
Whether it’s accidental or malicious, data loss happens more often than you might think. Most people don’t think much about their data until disaster strikes, and at that point, it’s usually too late. Fires, floods, earthquakes, mudslides, electrical surges, theft, computer viruses, ransomware, or hard drive failure – all of these can potentially relieve you of all the data you have stored on your computer.
Considering the way most of us depend on our mobile devices and being able to access what amounts to our entire lives from them, having all of it backed up “just in case” is a smart, and timely decision.
What is an Online Backup and why do I need it?
To protect yourself from potential loss, you should always have your hard drives and devices backed up to an external source. An online backup service is like a traditional backup, except it conducts the backup through an internet connection. Instead of backing your data up to a physical drive, it stores your information securely in the cloud.
Online backup vs. online sync
Online sync services such as Dropbox, iCloud, Google Drive, and OneDrive are different from online backup services. Online sync basically keeps a continuous online copy of certain files (like Word files and so on). It ensures that the stored copy of the file is always the latest version – but it does not back up your operating system, your applications, and other file systems that your computer depends on to run properly.
Online backup, on the other hand, backs up everything on your computers and devices so that even if your drive is corrupted, or if you have to reinstall a clean copy of the operating system from scratch, your entire system will be restorable to a working state. Online backup services often have a physical state as well, meaning your data is stored in the cloud and also on a physical server at a secure terrestrial location. This provides you with redundancy, meaning if something happens to one copy of your backup, there is another one ready to go.
It is highly recommended to keep a local backup (at home on a removable drive) for quick access when you need it, but if you lose your home or location due to a natural disaster, that won’t do you much good. The golden rule of backups is known as the “3-2-1 rule”: you should have three copies of your data on two mediums (online and physical, for instance), and one copy stored off-site in another location entirely.
So, let’s talk about online backup services and get that “one” out of the way!
What Online Backup solutions are right for me?
You have many choices when it comes to online backup services, but we chose what we feel are the top three to feature here today. As pricing tends to change occasionally, be sure to click the links in our reviews for the latest and most accurate pricing.
Backblaze is a great all-around online backup service. It offers unlimited server capacity, meaning that you never have to worry about losing data because you are over limit. It works for both Mac and PC and your backups can be accessed from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. Their personal plan is just $5 per month, $50 per year, or $95 for two years. They offer a free 15-day trial, and restores are free. If you prefer to restore from a drive, they will send you your backup on a flash drive or USB hard drive for a nominal fee – great if you’re stuck somewhere with an iffy internet connection.
- Great value
- Excellent security
- 2-factor authentication enabled
- Automatic or scheduled backups
- Backups can be accessed via download or can be mailed on a physical drive
- B2 service offers secure file sharing with 10Gb of free storage
- Locate stolen or lost devices
- Free trial
- No automatic mobile uploads
- Only holds 30-days worth of backups
- Not customizable – it is what it is
- No file explorer or finder integration
- No free storage
- Can’t specify individual folders and files for backup
- One account – one device; if you need to cover more devices, you have to purchase separate plans
- Probably not the best choice for more experienced users due to a lack of advanced features
iDrive is easy-to-use, affordable, and has advanced features that will satisfy most users. Every plan allows you to backup as many devices as you have, and they even offer a free plan (although total storage on the free plan is only 5Gb, hardly enough for the average smartphone). The basic personal plan is $69.50 per year, which comes with 2TB of storage. Their business plan, at $99.50 per year, offers optional server backup as well.
- Unlimited devices on one account
- iDrive express is good for bulk uploads/restores
- Fast restores from the website or the iDrive app
- Good security
- Local backup available in the United States
- Multi-platform, also covers Windows phones
- Student plans available at reduced pricing
- Continuous backup
- Good support options (phone, live, chat)
- Physical storage shipment at a nominal cost
- Backup your Facebook and Instagram photos
- Storage is not unlimited
- Performance is just okay compared to some other solutions
- Only keeps 10 latest versions of files
- Storage cap means you’ll have to manage your usage more closely
- Business plans charge more for limited storage
- No monthly payment plans
Carbonite is a user-friendly online backup with an elegant interface. It’s a little more expensive than some others at $60 per year for one computer, but they do offer other plans for businesses or people with multiple devices to back up. They also allow you to manage your own encryption keys, which means that they won’t even have access to your files – in the event a search warrant compels them to hand over your data, you will be safe! However, there is a trade-off: if you manage your own encryption keys, you won’t be able to access your files online.
- 90-day version period
- Unlimited online backup for one Mac or PC
- Continuous backup
- Easy setup
- Easy to understand desktop interface
- Mobile app experience is consistent with website
- Single computer or multiple device plans
- 15-day free trial
- Good advanced options for scheduling and choosing what to back up
- Data is encrypted in transmission for extra security
- Option to manage your own encryption keys
- Web interface is slow
- No backup options for external drives with the basic version
- No free account
- No file sharing features
- Unlimited plans are very expensive
- Prioritizes files under 4Gb
Online backup roundup
In conclusion, Backblaze is a great no-frills, budget service at a value price, but it only covers one device. iDrive has a great range of nifty features, but storage is capped, and it doesn’t offer a monthly plan. Carbonite offers self-managed encryption keys and has a very user-friendly interface, but if you have multiple computers or drives, it can be very expensive.
Watch this space for more on online backup services.