If there is one strong and fast rule to be followed in computing it is backup, backup, backup! When it comes to hard drives, it’s not IF they’ll crash, it’s WHEN they’ll crash. Plus, while it’s a fine idea to have a local backup of your data, on a USB thumb drive or an external hard drive, you should also have an offsite backup. Enter cloud backup services.
When it comes to backing up important files, users should always follow the “3-2-1 Rule of Backups.” This rule says users should keep 3 copies of any important file, on 2 different types of storage media, with 1 copy in an offsite location. Believe me, you cannot get more “offsite” than a cloud backup provider.
Cloud backup services allow users to backup their computer or mobile device to a remote location, sending the data over the internet to the cloud backup provider’s servers.
When making use of a cloud backup solution, the user installs a client application on their computer or device, which keeps an eye on files that are changed or added to a selected set of directories. When the app sees a change, it either immediately sends the changes to the backup provider’s servers, or waits until a specified time of day and sends all of the changed data at once.
The process quietly runs in the background, and requires no interaction from the user after the initial setup of the backup app has been completed.
If the user experiences a hard drive crash, or if a file is lost or becomes corrupted for another reason, they can use the same app to restore the files over the Internet from the backup provider’s servers, directly to the user’s computer or device.
There are numerous cloud backup providers around, but only a few that I would trust to store a backup of my valuable personal and business data. I’ll offer you a closer look at my 3 favorite cloud backup providers, and will share how they work, and how much they’ll cost you.
If you’ve listened to a tech podcast or radio show in the last few years, you’ve likely heard an ad for Carbonite. The cloud backup service advertises regularly on tech shows, and has become a popular way for computer users to backup their data to the cloud.
Carbonite offers a cloud backup solution for both the Windows and Mac computing platforms. The company offers both home and office backup solutions.
Carbonite can backup photos, documents, music, emails, settings, and more. If you spring for the “Plus” level of service, it will even backup data stored on external drives you have attached to your computer.
Once installed and configured, Carbonite immediately begins backing up your files to the cloud. The app is continually on the lookout for new or modified files, and automatically backs those changes or additions up to the cloud. There is no waiting until a scheduled time for data backup like some solutions require. (I’m looking at you, Apple Time Machine.)
Once your files are backed up, you can quickly restore them, using the same Carbonite app that was used to backup the data. If your hard drive fails, or your computer is lost or stolen, you’ll be able to recover your important files with just a few mouse clicks.
Carbonite offers three levels of service for home users: Basic, Plus, and Prime.
Basic is $59.99 per year, and offers unlimited cloud storage for 1 computer, automatic backup, U.S.-based support, and the ability to remotely access files.
Plus is $99.99 per year, and offers all of the Basic features listed above, as well as external hard drive backup and automatic video backup.
Prime is $149.99 per year, and offers everything Basic and Plus do, adding courier recovery service, which will ship you a copy of your backup if you’re faced with downtime.
Carbonite’s Business Backup services start at $269.99 per year for their Core level of service,which offers backup an unlimited number of computers, external drives, and NAS devices, (no servers).
Their $799.99 per year Power plan adds one server to the backup list, and their $1,299.99 per year Ultimate level of backup service offers backup for an unlimited number of computers and servers.
For more information about Carbonite, visit their website. The company offers a 15 day free trial for home users.
Backblaze is one of the more popular cloud backup providers around today, and for good reason. The company offers a single user plan that costs $5 per month for a single computer. That plan ioffers unlimited storage, and also backs up any attached storage, like an external hard drive, or even a USB stick.
In addition to their reasonably priced plan catering to individuals, they also offer plans for businesses and large enterprises.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been using Backblaze to backup my Mac for a little over a year, and it has worked flawlessly for me. It completely restored my files following a drive failure I had on my previous MacBook.
Backblaze is strictly a backup and restore solution,. It doesn’t offer file syncing or sharing. If it doesn’t have anything to do with backing up and restoring your computer’s hard drive, then you won’t find it in the Backblaze app. (And that’s OK with me.)
Carbonite is simple to setup on your Windows or Mac machine, and after you select the drives and directories you wish to backup, immediately begins backing up your data.
It can take up to a day or so to complete the first backup, depending on the amount of data you choose to backup, the speed of your Internet connection, and how much of your connection’s bandwidth you choose to use for Backblaze.
If needed, you can also download your backup via a handy web interface, or pay to have your data FedEx’ed to you on a USB Flash Drive (up to 128GB), or on a USB hard drive (up to 4TB).
Backblaze pricing starts at a quite reasonable $5.00 per month for a single user plan, and drops down to $4.17 per month if you pay for a year up front, or down to $3.96 per month if you spring for 2 years of backup in advance.
For those fees, you get unlimited data backup, backup of external drives, a personal encryption key, a native Mac or PC client, and the service can even locate your computer if it is lost.
Business users can make use of Backblaze for $50 per computer per year, which includes the ability to get your backup on a hard drive sent to you anywhere in the world. Backblaze also offers a B2 Cloud Storage for $5 per month per Terabyte.
For more information about Backblaze, visit their website. The company offers a 15 day free trial for home users.
CrashPlan offers the same type of backup protection as Carbonite and Backblaze, but throws in a few features the others don’t offer.
While CrashPlan offers cloud backup for a single computer for $5.00 per month with a yearly subscription, it also offers a free level of service that allows backing up your Windows, Mac or Linux box to an external hard drive or another computer. If that’s all you feel you need, then there is no charge, and you can use it that way forever.
The free solution only backs up your data once a day. However, it also offers 30 days of online backup service, just so you can get a taste of what cloud backup is all about.
CrashPlan also offers an Individual plan that will backup all of the data on a single computer, as well as a Family plan that will backup 2-10 computers. Both plans offer the same features as the free plan, but also allow access to improved customer support, access to files via a mobile app, and the ability to restore files from any web browser.
The Individual plan will run an individual $5.99 per month, or $5.00 per month when said individual springs for a year’s service upfront. The Family plan, is $13.99 per month, or $12.50 per month when the family prepays for a year’s service. (Make sure Uncle Buck pays for his share, he’s kind of a freeloader…)
CrashPlan also offers a Business plan that offers backup protection for your company’s computers for $10 per month per device.
For more information about CrashPlan, visit their website. The company offers a 30 day free trial for home users.
While I have tried out all three of the cloud backup solutions I’ve covered here, I’ve found Backblaze is the best solution for my particular needs. The $5 per month fee is quite reasonable, and the app doesn’t seems to slow down my computer or my internet connection while it is backing up data.
Also, Backblaze came through for me when I had a hard drive crash last year, so it’s number one on my hit parade of reliable cloud backup providers.
For more information about these and other cloud backup providers, visit this website on a regular basis, just like your backups.