What Are The Best Cloud Backup Services Of 2017?
If there is one strong and fast rule to be followed in computing, it’s back up, back up, back up!
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 stick or an external hard drive, you should also have an offsite backup.
Enter cloud backup services.
When it comes to backing up your 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 off-site location.
Believe me, you cannot get more “off-site” than a cloud backup provider.
How Cloud Backup Works
Cloud backup services allow users to back up 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, you install a client application on your computer or device, which keeps an eye on files that you change or add 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 modified 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 you experience a hard drive crash, or if a file is lost or becomes corrupted for another reason, you can use the same app to restore the files over the internet from the backup provider’s server directly to your computer or device.
Best Cloud Backup Services
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 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 regularly advertises on tech shows and has become a popular way for computer users to back up their data to the cloud.
Carbonite offers a cloud backup solution for both the Windows and Mac computing platforms. The company features both home and office backup solutions.
Carbonite can back up photos, documents, music, emails, settings and more. If you spring for the “Plus” level of service, it will even back up 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 uploads those changes or additions 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 back up 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 provides 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 features 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 provides backup for 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 supplies 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 provides unlimited storage and backs up any attached storage, like an external hard drive or even a USB.
In addition to their reasonably-priced plan catering to individuals, they also feature subscriptions for businesses and large enterprises.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been using Backblaze to back up 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 okay with me.)
Backblaze is simple to set up on your Windows or Mac machine, and after you select the drives and directories you wish to back up, it 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 back up, the speed of your internet connection and how much of your connection’s bandwidth you opt 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 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’s 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 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 that the others don’t.
While CrashPlan provides cloud backup for a single computer for $5 per month with a yearly subscription, it also provides a free level of service that allows you to back 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 provides 30 days of online backup service, just so you can get a taste of what cloud backup is all about.
Additionally, CrashPlan offers an Individual plan that backs up all of the data on a single computer, as well as a Family plan that backs up 2-10 computers. Both plans provide 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 runs $5.99 per month, or $5 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 provides 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 3 of the cloud backup solutions I’ve covered here, I’ve found Backblaze is the best option for my particular needs.
The $5-per-month fee is quite reasonable, and the app doesn’t noticeably slow down my computer or internet connection while it’s backing up data.Also, Backblaze came through for me when I had a hard drive crash last year, so it’s number 1 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 you perform your backups.