If you’re backing up your data but you’re not saving it offsite, you’re putting it at risk. If something happens to your home or electronics, all that data could be lost. That’s why there are tons of affordable, easy-to-use online backup services that you can send your data to seamlessly for safe keeping. This week we’re going to look at five of the best, based on your nominations.
It’s been a long time since we last looked at online backup tools, so we figured it was time to take another look. Earlier this week we asked you which online backup services were the best: The ones that offered the most seamless and simple backups, fast and complete restores, easy-to-use backup clients, and of course, storage for your money. You responded with a number of options, but we only have room for your top five. Here they are, in no particular order:
Carbonite is one of the web’s most popular online backup services, and for good reason. The Carbonite client runs quietly in the background uploading your data to Carbonite’s servers to make sure it’s safe in case something happens to your computer. Carbonite can automatically back up documents, music, email, and other files (although it manually backs up video), and grants you access to those files and your archives on your smartphone. Carbonite supports Windows and OS X (although its Home Plus and Home Premier plans only support Windows), and make restoring your files as easy as backing them up. Your offsite files are encrypted to keep them safe from prying eyes, and all of their plans include unlimited storage for your backed up files. Carbonite’s Home Plus plan extends its features and allows you to back up external hard drives and not just files on your computer, and allows you to back up full system images. The Home Premier plan includes both of those features and adds automatic backup of your video files, and a courier recovery service that delivers you backups on a hard drive to you ASAP if something terrible happens.
Carbonite is online backup only, so it doesn’t really work well for local backups or backups to external drives. You’ll still have to handle that yourself. You can try Carbonite for free for 15 days, but after that you’ll need to pay up $ 60/yr to back up one computer with their Home plan, $ 100/yr to back up one computer with their Home Plus plan, and $ 150/ur to back up one computer with their Home Premium plan. You can read more about Carbonite’s plans and pricing here.
Backblaze earned praise from many of you for being easy to set up, even for non-technical people. It’s built for people who want to get their data backed up, without being forced to search for error codes and cryptic status messages whenever something goes wrong. To that point, Backblaze backs up just about everything on your system. You get some control over what’s backed up and what isn’t, but the point is to be fast, easy, and hands-off, so everything on your system—documents, music, video, external drives you have plugged in, just about anything. Instead of telling what they do back up, Backblaze actually has a special page dedicated to what they don’t back up instead. Backblaze offers unlimited storage for your backed up data, and while by default it only backs up files smaller than 4GB, you can bump that up if you need to. Like other online backup services, it runs in the background, backing up your data all the time (or when you schedule it to, if you prefer), and your data is encrypted so only you have access to it. It supports Windows and OS X, and is smart enough to de-dupe data, do incremental backups, and keep backup processes low on system resources. You can read more about Backblaze’s features here.
BackBlaze doesn’t have an offline component, so you’ll have to handle that yourself, but it’s by far one of the most affordable options on the market. Accounts are $ 5/mo (you get a break if you pay up front for one or two years), and you can add more computers to the same account for another $ 5/mo. You can read more about Backblaze’s pricing options here.
CrashPlan is our favorite backup tool for Windows, for the Mac, and we’ve even shown you how to build a bulletproof backup solution with it. CrashPlan gives you the flexibility to back up any folders you select on your computer (or whole drives, if you prefer) to external hard drives, other computers on the same network, a friend’s computer across the internet, or online to CrashPlan’s own servers, where it’s stored and encrypted to keep your data safe. The backup utility is set-it-and-forget-it, and it runs quietly in the background whenever you’re away from your computer, or at specified times of day. It’s smart enough to only do differentials and incrementals, and supports multiple backup destinations so you can back everything up at one time everywhere it needs to go. Restores are just as easy, and a few clicks drops all of your files right back where they should be. You even get access to your backup data on your mobile devices. If you have a ton of data to back up or restore, you can even have CrashPlan send an external hard drive to your house that you can back up to and use to seed your first backups or restore from, all without blowing past your ISP’s bandwidth limitations. You can read more about CrashPlan’s features here.
CrashPlan is completely free if you’re just doing local backups, but even online backups are affordable, with CrashPlan+ accounts starting at $ 2/mo (per computer) for 10GB of online backup storage, and going up to $ 4/mo (per computer) for unlimited online backup storage and $ 9/mo for unlimited online backup storage for a whole household. You can check out their plans here, and try them free for 30 days with a new account.
SpiderOak is well known as one of the most privacy-centric cloud storage services, but it’s also a great backup service. The same power and features that you get for file syncing and access extend to its backup client, and SpiderOak’s “Zero Knowledge” policy extends to your backups as well. Even they don’t know what you’re storing on their servers, and all of your data is encrypted on their servers and before it leaves your computer. The SpiderOak desktop client has a fully-featured backup tool in it that lets you back up your entire desktop, documents, email, music, or movies right to the cloud, or you can hit the “Advanced” tab and pick the files and folders you want to save, including external drives, network drives, or anything else on your computer. As you add files to your backup job, you’ll get a live preview of how much space you’ll use with what kinds of files, and whether you have space for it. SpiderOak supports Windows, OS X, and Linux, has mobile apps for iOS and Android, can do incrementals, and if you uncheck a file to stop backing it up, the files will still live in your SpiderOak account, just as an archive. Your backups happen in the background, or when you schedule them.
SpiderOak’s beauty is that it’s a combination cloud syncing and storage service as well as a backup client all in one. Unlike some of the other services though, you’ll have to pay for the storage you use. You get 2GB for free just for signing up, and you can get up to 10GB by referring friends. SpiderOak Plus nets you 100GB for $ 10/mo to use for syncing and backups, and every 100GB after that is another $ 10/mo. Plus, you can connect as many computers to any SpiderOak account as you want, so you’re not paying by the system. You can read more about SpiderOak’s plans here.
Bitcasa Infinite Drive is relatively new, but it’s one of your favorite cloud storage providers in general, mostly because they offer virtually unlimited stroage for syncing and backups. When we say unlimited, we mean it—some of you are using terabytes of storage with Bitcasa. It’s not primarily a backup service though, and while it was built for file syncing and storage, the Bitcasa desktop client does support regular file backups. Bitcasa supports Windows and OS X, and encrypts all of your files before uploading so they stay safe from prying eyes. Bitcasa even keeps revision history, so if you’ve backed up a file multiple times and need an older version, you can pick it out and restore it. Plus, you can use the Bitcasa mobile apps for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone to access your data on the go.
Bitcasa starts you off with 10GB for free, but $ 100/yr throws the floodgates open and gets you unlimited storage for anything you want to sync, share, or back up. Plus, you can connect as many computers or devices to your account as you choose, so you don’t pay by the PC. It’s client isn’t quite as robust as some of the other tools here, but if you’re more interested in a flat fee for unlimited space and you can handle the details of which files go where and when, it’s a solid option. You can read more about Bitcasa’s pricing here.
Now that you’ve seen the top five, it’s time to put them to an all-out vote to determine the winner.
No honorable mentions this week, as the nominations dropped off pretty sharply from these five. Some of you pointed to your own kind of franken-backup solution that made use of traditional cloud storage services like Dropbox and Google Drive in addition with desktop utilities and clients that can automatically copy whatever you want from your computer to specified files and folders in those services, which is a great option if you want the absolute ultimate in control.
Have something to say about one of the contenders? Want to make the case for your personal favorite, even if it wasn’t included in the list? Remember, the top five are based on your most popular nominations from the call for contenders thread from earlier in the week. Don’t just complain about the top five, let us know what your preferred alternative is—and make your case for it—in the discussions below.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it’s not because we hate it—it’s because it didn’t get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it’s a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at [email protected].