Data backup is one very important aspect of computing that has received so much attention in recent years. This is as a result of an increase in the amount of data lost to data corruption or hardware malfunction. Traditionally, people use external storage drives to create and store backups of their files. It’s a good way to backup data, but it’s certainly not as good as online backup services.
Various companies offer online storage services each differing in function, storage limits, file types allowed and subscription fees. This article will highlight the best online storage services and help you make the right choice.
To start with, let’s find out the difference between online storage and online backup services.
Very often, we use the terms “online backup” and “online storage” interchangeably because we presume they both mean the same thing. To be frank, they both have a similarity, but it ends at “storing files online”.
So what’s the difference between the two: online backup vs online storage?
Services like Google Drive, Dropbox etc. offer a special type of online storage which involves storing files online. These files can be easily accessed via any device that has internet connectivity. Simply put, online storage may be referred to as a sync storage, otherwise called cloud sync storage.
On the other hand, online backup as the name implies provides backup options for your computer. You can access the files via different devices. Encryption is provided to keep your data safe. Online backup files are often copied to various backup locations around the world as against the single location provided by the online storage services like Google Drive. This ensures that in the event of a data loss in one location, data on other locations can easily be retrieved for the user.
Best Online Backup Services 2017
The online marketplace is gradually beginning to get saturated with various companies offering online backup services. They all claim to be the best, but are they?
For the next few minutes, we’ll take you on a journey through the books of five of the online backup service providers. These few have distinguished themselves from the crowd and have lived up to and beyond expectation.
|$60/yr||Varies with plans||Varies with plans|
|Storage limits||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited||Yes, varies with plans||Varies with plans|
|Default backup||All files||All files||All files||File restrictions||File restrictions|
|Max. file upload limit||None||None||4GB||None||10GB|
|OS supported||Windows, Mac||Windows, Mac, Linux||Windows, Mac||Windows, Mac||Windows, Mac|
|Mobile App||iOS, Android||iOS, Android, Windows Phone||iOS, Android||iOS, Android||iOS, Android, Windows Phone|
|File sharing||No||No||No||Mozy Sync||Yes, Sync allowed|
|448-bit Blowfish, 256-bit AES||128-bit Blowfish||448-bit Blowfish, 256-bit AES, 128-bit AES||128-bit AES,
|Personal Encryption Key||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Check Backblaze||Check CrashPlan||Check Carbonite||Check Mozy||Check iDrive|
Here’s a proper review of the aforementioned online backup services.
1. Backblaze – Easy backup at blazing speeds
For just $5/month or $50/year, Backblaze offers unlimited storage on its cloud backup services to all and sundry. I bet you’re tempted to ask “is the UNLIMITED storage for real at such a ridiculously low price“? Yes, what you see is what you pay, no hidden charges.
Backblaze has been in the cloud storage business since 2007 and has always been in the news for the right reasons. First, they developed their own storage servers as well as the software that powers it.
Suitable for beginners
Aside from the fact that their services are very much affordable – $5/month, $50/year, $95/2 years – Backblaze offers an easy to use interface.
Are you new to the cloud storage world or you just want to know how good Backblaze is? You’re entitled to a 15-day trial. I bet that you simply cannot be able to resist using Backblaze at the end of the trial period.
The process of backing up your data is as easy as ABC.
- First, head to the company’s website and sign up with just your email address and password
- Next, download and install the Backblaze software to your computer. Voila, you’re good to go
After installation, the Backblaze software scans your computer immediately and prepares your files for backup. If you’ve got an external drive attached to the computer, it will also be backed up. It is important to note that you can choose the files and folders you’ll like to back up. Backblaze has an automatic backup feature which allows your data to be backed up continuously whether you’re using a Mac or a Windows PC.
Your files are first encrypted and then moved to the cloud servers where they are now stored – a process which takes a few minutes to a few hours depending on your internet speed. There are certain file types that are not allowed. Furthermore, Backblaze file restoration is as easy as backing it up. You can request for an external drive with your data copied into it. This will be mailed to you via courier for a fee. To restore your files, you need to sign into the website. Using both AES 128-bit and 256-bit encryption technology, Backblaze provides a layer of security for your files. Added layers of security include an option to set your own encryption key as well as two-factor authentication.
You can also take advantage of one very important feature Backblaze offers; locate lost computer. Find your computer wherever it is in the world using Backblaze.
- High-level encryption keeps your files secure
- Fast and automatic backup
- Ease of backup and restoration
- Works on Mac and Windows PC
- Unlimited storage costs just $5/month
- You can specify which files to backup and which file versions you want to restore
- Older file versions are deleted after 30 days
- Restoration requires signing using the website
- Local backups are not allowed
- High cost of file restoration when requesting for drives
- Upload speeds are not that fast
Conclusion: If you want premium quality online backup service for just a token, Backblaze will give you more than you asked for. One plan suits all… With Backblaze, you’ve got a variety of settings to suit your preferences. Get started now!
Read more reviews about backblaze on official website
Check Backblaze deals below:
Unlimited data backup for your Mac or PC. 15-day free trial.
The easy, effective way to manage your team's backup needs - Desktop, Laptop, Server, and NAS.
2. CrashPlan – Safeguard your data against system crashes
One very interesting thing about data backup is that if you’ve got a plan, you’ll never be taken unawares when your system crashes. Leading the pack is CrashPlan.
Different backup plans
CrashPlan offers different backup plans, each tailored to suit your unlimited backup storage needs.
- CrashPlan Individual Unlimited – 1 computer with unlimited storage at $5.99/month
- CrashPlan Family Unlimited – 10 computers with unlimited storage at $13.99/month or $149.99/year
- CrashPlan Business – For $10 monthly, you get unlimited storage and other perks that come with this plan
Exciting offers, right?
That’s not all. Installing the CrashPlan software is simpler than tying a shoelace. If you have no CrashPlan account, you can simply signup using the desktop application. Just before the initial backup begins, all your files are selected by default. You can alter any of the settings to suit your preferences. Unlike Backblaze, CrashPlan has an alert system that notifies you of successful or failed backups.
Did you know that with CrashPlan, you can easily backup your data to any computer or drive that is connected to the internet? Simply choose the storage location and your data is sent to the destination fully encrypted. Need I say that you can also add a custom encryption key for your data – be warned, if you lose the key, your data cannot be recovered.
Additionally, CrashPlan provides a special type of backup option which they refer to as a “seeded backup”, and it costs just $125. They’ll first send you a 1TB external USB drive which you can copy your data into. There’s absolutely no need to worry about the safety of the data on the drive because it’s encrypted. After you are done copying your data to the drive, you can simply mail it back to them and they’ll upload it to your account.
Restoring your files is a breeze, and if for any reason you’d like to get your data in an external hard drive, it will cost you $165 and it will be shipped to you. Furthermore, you can easily access your backed up data using the Android, Windows Phone and iOS apps on your mobile devices.
Aside from keeping a copy of various versions of your files, CrashPlan also keeps a copy of files that you’ve deleted and you can easily retrieve them at any time.
Want to try out any of their plans, you’re free to do so with the 30-day free trial plan.
- Your data is protected with 448-bit Blowfish encryption or 256-bit AES encryption depending on the plan you choose
- Different plans to attend to the needs of various customers
- Easily recover your deleted files with just one click
- Select any location of your choice for your data
- Manage your files with your friends and colleagues when you chose the business plan
- Handy mobile apps for conveniently monitoring your files
- Easily accessible through the web browser
- Available for Mac, Windows, Linux
- Web and mobile interface has limited functionalities
- File sharing isn’t available
- Restrictions on file size when restoring via the web
Conclusion: I’ll recommend CrashPlan to anyone looking for the best online backup service. It’s affordable, and each plan is tailored to suit your needs with all the nice features it has.
Check CrashPlan deals below:
Back up to other computers and external drives, free.
3. Carbonite – Get Anytime anywhere access with Carbonite!
Carbonite may not sound as sweet as Backblaze nor as familiar as Crashplan, yet does it give both predecessors on my list of the best cloud backup services a run for their money. Carbonite gives individual users looking to backup single computers three different plans to choose from…
- Basic – unlimited cloud storage for $60/year
- Plus – unlimited storage for $100/year
- Prime – unlimited storage for $150/year
All the plans provide unlimited storage for a single computer, remote file access, automatic backups as well as constant 24/7 support. The Plus and Prime plans have other features that make it special.
Businesses aren’t left at crossroads. Carbonite ensures that business owners who desire to backup their company servers can do so with any of their special plans.
Downloading the Carbonite desktop app to your computer is very simple. Install and launch the app and in a few minutes, you are backing up your data.
Limits you should know about
There’s, however, a limit you’ll encounter when backing up your data. It’s the 4GB max file size limit. This simply means that files that are larger than 4GB must be manually added to the backup queue. Additionally, not all file types are backed. You can select the files to backup before the process automatically begins.
Restoring your files can be done via the Carbonite desktop app or using the web interface which isn’t a recommended option given that it has file size limits. You can request a copy of your data shipped to you via courier in a USB external drive. However, you must be on the Prime plan to be able to use this service. That’s not fair since competitors like CrashPlan and Backblaze offer the service to all customers regardless of the plans they choose.
To manage your files when you’re on the move, feel free to download the mobile apps for your Android or iOS. Using a proprietary feature on Carbonite, you can track and identify the location of your mobile device in case of a theft.
Your data is securely stored on Carbonite’s servers and it’s protected with state of the art 128-bit Blowfish encryption. For an added layer of security, you can add your own personal encryption key. Be warned, you cannot recover your data if you forget your personal encryption key.
- A variety of plans to choose from
- Mirrored image backup
- Supports file versioning
- Free 15-day trial
- Anytime Anywhere Access
- Courier service delivery of your data in an external hard drive
- 128-bit Blowfish encryption technology keeps your data safe
- File versions older than 30 days are deleted
- Automatic video backup is only available for customers on the Prime Plan
- File upload size limit of 4GB
- File type restrictions during backup
- File sharing not allowed
Conclusion: Carbonite’s services are on par with the industry standards in online backup. They’ve got you covered all year round, and hey, they’ve got nice features no other online backup service provider gives.
Check Carbonite deals below:
Try Carbonite FREE for 15 days. Risk free — No credit card required.
4. Mozy – Limited backup plans for the moderate lover!
Mozy is certainly not a pocket-friendly online backup service, but that doesn’t mean they are not welcome aboard our list. To start with, Mozy offers three different plans for various categories of users.
- MozyHome Plan – $6 /mo for 50GB for one computer; $10/mo for 125GB for 3 computers
- Mozy Pro Plan – Starts at $153 for 10GB for 1 year
- Mozy Enterprise Plan – Special pricing plans as per your needs
If these prices don’t piss you off, they certainly make me annoyed. Mozy has nothing different to offer for such ridiculously high prices. Mozy, however, has some cool features notable names like Backblaze and CrashPlan does not have.
Mozy Sync feature
If you need access to your frequently used backed up files irrespective of your location in the world, Mozy provides such a feature. While it may not sound so interesting, it can save you the stress of having to backup your data over and over again each time you want to edit an already backed up file. It’s called Mozy Sync, and it is available on all the plans. It is entirely different from all the Mozy Backup service although both are linked together.
Backing up your files using Mozy is relatively easy. Unfortunately, you are surely going to be faced with a lot of file type restrictions. There are no file size limits for uploads, and you can access your backed up data via the Web app, your mobile app or the Mozy software you installed on your desktop.
Just like every other online backup service, you are entitled to state of the art encryption. 128-bit AES encryption protects your data during file transfers, while the 448-bit Blowfish encryption and the 256-bit AES encryption keeps it safe on Mozy’s storage locations. If you’d like an extra layer of security, feel free to create your own private encryption key.
File restoration is a breeze, and with just a few clicks, you get your files back.
Unlike Carbonite, you get no mirror image backup with Mozy, nor do you get unlimited storage for your file versions. Even your deleted files last for only 30 days before they are erased from Mozy’s servers.
- Free backup plan capped at 2GB per single computer
- Different levels of encryption technology guarantee the safety of your data on Mozy
- An include/exclude feature that helps checkmate the files you want to backup
- Limited storage space for exorbitant prices
- File versions older than 30 days are deleted
- Deleted files are held for only 30 days
Conclusion: Mozy’s Sync feature is one edge it has over other online backup services. Aside from that, the 2GB free plan might just satisfy the curiosity of anyone who wants to try out Mozy.
Check Mozy deals below:
Experience the power of Mozy for free
5. iDrive – Drive your data into safety!
Last on our list of the best cloud storage services is iDrive. For starters, iDrive will entice you with a 5GB free plan. When you’re ready to upgrade, you have the option to choose any of iDrive’s plans.
- iDrive Basic – 5GB free forever
- iDrive Personal – $52 for 1TB for 1 year
- iDrive Business – $74 for 250GB for 1 year
The best of it all is that they’ve got a special plan for students from selected schools in different countries.
These plans allow you to backup as many computers as possible with just one iDrive account. Using the iDrive application, you wouldn’t be needing any tutorial to backup or restore your data.
3TB hard drive for free
For subscribers who choose the personal or business plans, iDrive will ship a 3TB hard drive to you for free once in a year so that you can easily restore your files. Other online backup services will charge you as much as $120 for this same reason. If you’d love to backup your local drive, iDrive will do so with just a few clicks.
Using iDrive’s Rewind feature, you can get previous versions of your backed up files which of course is duly encrypted. iDrive uses 256-bit AES encryption to secure your data, and of course, you are free to also set your own encryption key if you’d want an added layer of security.
Backup your mobile phone
Unlike CrashPlan and Backblaze, and Mozy, iDrive’s mobile app will backup and also allow you to restore the contents of your mobile phone anytime, any day. The app is available for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone users.
Did I mention that you can easily backup your Facebook and Instagram photos and videos easily using iDrive? That’s not all, as you are free to share your files with anyone.
- Unlimited number of devices and drives
- Your data is protected, thanks to the 128-bit and 256-bit AES encryption technology
- Feel free to share your files via email or through social media
- Backup your Facebook and Instagram photos and videos easily
- Include and exclude files you wouldn’t like to backup
- No unlimited storage since all plans are capped
- Your file versions are limited to only 10 previous versions
- Without Google Chrome browser, using iDrive’s Web Upload Folder will be difficult
- File upload limits of 10GB
Conclusion: iDrive is simply a better alternative to Mozy, but it may not be a strong match for CrashPlan. iDrive’s free account is worth having, and it offers a file sharing and syncing feature which some of its counterparts do not have.
Check iDrive deals below:
No credit card required
Choosing an online backup service wouldn’t be a difficult thing to do. If I were to recommend one service, it would be Backblaze. I use their backup service, and I have no intentions of ditching them. If you’d love a free backup account, IDrive’s 5GB free account will do the magic.
Save your data now. Tomorrow may be too late.
What’s the difference between Online Storage and Online Backup?
is designed for easy access and sharing of select files.
Let’s take a look at the most popular online storage service – Dropbox: “Dropbox is a free service that lets you bring your photos, docs, and videos anywhere and share them easily.”
Microsoft OneDrive is similar: “Store photos and docs online. Access them from any PC, Mac or phone. Create and work together on Word, Excel or PowerPoint documents.”
Google Drive does mention file backup: “Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, and more with Google Drive”. But the Google Drive home page highlights only these three main features: Store files, access them from other devices, and quickly share them with others.
is designed for automatically protecting all your files.
By contrast, check out Backblaze’s description: “Award winning unlimited online backup for only $5/month. Backblaze automatically backs up your data to the cloud.” And the Backblaze home page mentions these features: security, unlimited data backups, automation, and restoring data. Other online backup services are similar, emphasizing security and protecting your files, rather than sharing or file syncing.
Some backup services also let you remotely access your files and share them from multiple devices, but that’s not the main focus. While Dropbox and other online storage services’ purpose is to make sure you can access individual files from multiple devices, online backup services are designed for full protection against data loss and (most importantly) recovering all of your files in case your computer is lost, stolen, or otherwise compromised.
These might seem like small points, but they drive the main features of these services, and generally explain that they’re really two different tools for two different kinds of jobs. They’re also the reason why using online storage isn’t the same as having true backups.
Why Online Storage Services Aren’t Suitable for Backups
If you think that you can store copies of your files in the cloud, primarily to keep them secure and be able to recover them easily in case your hard drive crashes or something similar, than you should know that there are limitations with using online storage services as your only tool. Because most of them are set up primarily for syncing and sharing, security and loss prevention can take a backseat. For example NSA Whistleblower Edward Snowden criticized Dropbox recently, saying – protecting users’ information is not a top priority for the company.
Let’s take a look more closer on these reasons.
Limited storage capacity
For the majority of online storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive, you can only store a certain amount of data on their servers. Even if you pay $ a month for 1TB of space, it might not be possible to store (or back up) everything you should save, including huge video and photo files and archived files of your work. Some storage services also limit the size of the files you can upload and the amount of data you can transfer to their services at a given time, making it more of a hassle to quickly protect all of your files.
Another issue with using online storage as your main backup tool: you may run out of space on your computer. In this case you might have to move some files to an external drive, but then those files aren’t synced or copied to Dropbox or other online storage providers and thus, they’re not backed up.
By contrast, a few online backup services let you save an unlimited amount of data and have no file size limits. They’re optimized for efficiently transferring huge amounts of data between your computer and the backup servers. You don’t have to worry about how much space you’re taking up or clear out files from your queue because everything gets backed up automatically and efficiently, including files on external drives.
We all should pay close attention to our security and privacy. When you want to back up sensitive files or just don’t want someone peeking at your photos – encryption is critical.
Online storage services, aren’t as secure as backup services, for whom safeguarding our data is their bread and butter. Files stored on Dropbox and Google Drive are encrypted on their servers, but they’re not locally encrypted on your computer before being synced to the cloud. That means if a government agency or hacker gets access to your account your files will be readable to them unless you’ve manually encrypted these files yourself using third-party software before storing them online.
Online backup services, on the other hand, offer a double layer of security, by first automatically encrypting your files with a private key that uniquely protects your data and then storing them online on encrypted drives.
If you’re using online storage services solely to have a copy of your files online (e.g., you only have one computer and don’t need the syncing features), the cost of that backup, on a per Gigabyte basis, is much higher than the cost of unlimited backup services. Online storage services do give you an amount of free storage (between 2GB on Dropbox to 15GB on Google Drive or OneDrive), but you’ll need to pay for more space. By comparison, Backblaze is $5 a month for unlimited backup space compared to $10 a month on Google Drive and Dropbox for 1TB of storage space.
Ease of use
Dropbox and Google Drive are very easy to use, but you still have to manually save your files to one designated folder on your computer to get them stored on these services. For each file, it’s a decision to save them there or somewhere else. Many programs create a unique folder where they save your user data; those won’t be saved to the online storage space unless you change the save location to the syncing folder (and not all programs will let you do this).
Online backup, on the other hand, is a set and forget situation. Once you’ve picked the files and folders to be backed up, you don’t have to do anything else. Every important file gets saved (perhaps even ones you didn’t think to create a copy of, such as files saved on your desktop), automatically and continuously backed up online. In Backblaze’s case, you don’t even have to select the files and folders to back up (but you can adjust the file types to save and such); the software does it for you. Most of us don’t want to even think about backups. This is as easy as it gets.
So, when to use Online Storage or Online Backup?
Just as online storage services aren’t the same as online backup services, the reverse is true too. Online backup services aren’t suitable for instantly accessing files on various devices and they’re not collaboration tools.
Online storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive do, however, make it dead simple to keep your files updated across all your devices, and if you need to give others instant access to them you can just save the files to the shared folder or send them a link. These apps also readily connect to third-party apps, so you can do things like seamlessly share photos stored on Dropbox to Facebook. Some online storage services, such as Box.com, deserve a nod for their built-in collaborative, business-friendly features, including user access control and advanced commenting tools for multiple users.
In a nutshell: Online storage services are great for providing a centralized place for accessing and sharing your most needed files. For example, if you have a desktop at work and a laptop at home, plus a tablet and smartphone you want to keep in sync. They’re like your file server in the sky.
Online backup services are the easiest and most secure way to save all of your important files from tragedy (they can also back up your online storage folder). They’re like having an IT person come around regularly (but invisibly) to back up your computer and archive your files off-site, and, if needed, save your bacon if and when your computer crashes or someone accidentally deleted a folder.
I really believe both are incredibly useful and necessary tools. And while they have different purposes, they play well together!