Data Dump: The 5 Best Online Backup Services

Anyone who has had their hard drive suddenly take a dive or dropped their phone in the toilet – for reasons unknown – knows how important data is in the current climate. Our lives are on our computers and mobile devices and if we lose that we are just singing, dancing meat puppets with no point or purpose, spinning in a void. To avoid sinking to the level of ridiculous, upright animal, you need to protect your data so that you might live as a human. This means you’ve got to have a good online backup service to keep your information safe.

What we’ve done is looked over the multitude of options out there and chosen the most balanced services. Those that are best for any user. If you have an unusual lifestyle or need a very specific thing, perhaps you won’t find the best choice for you on this list. The features we considered were security, automation, ease of use, accessibility over multiple devices, and maximum storage size as well as value. Those cloud services that ranked well in all areas are here, but we had to omit a few who were great, but had gaping flaws in one or more of the criteria. With that, let us look to the 5 best online backup services and rejoice!

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Pro: Numerous options
Con: Does not automatically upload larger files

Any Level: Carbonite is an online backup service that uses a comprehensive set of tiered solutions to suit everything from a single user to a family to a full large business with graduated payment options that are tailored for whatever level of use you require. It works by using a background program that automates the upload process so that when a file is saved on your computer, it also goes into the cloud. This system works well for most of your more basic files, but files that run over 4 GB won’t be handled automatically since the process is too time consuming, so make sure you are periodically doing manual backups. Each item that has been uploaded is conveniently marked with dot (at least in Windows) to show it exists on the cloud server. Carbonite works with all Android, iOS, and even Blackberry devices so that pictures and video go onto the server whenever you have a connection that supports uploads. It works both with principle machines as well as external hard drives and gives you unlimited storage space with every plan. The interface is very simple and automation is nearly idiotproof. [Purchase: $60/year+]



Pro: Works with Linux systems
Con: Uses a larger amount of your CPU to run

The Personal Choice: CrashPlan is the service that is tailored more for the individual, though they do have CrashPlan PRO which is their business option. It truly feels like it is made with the individual or family in mind above all others. At the lowest level it will store unlimited data from a single computer, while the family option allows up to 10 computers to be used. CrashPlan will work with any operating system, including those who prefer to use Linux over the standard Windows or iOS. It can also function on Android, iOS, or Windows phones, but doesn’t support any other mobile operating systems. The customization options are great, but most users will find this best as a fire-and-forget choice that you can just setup, minimize to the system tray and then ignore. It can be a CPU hog compared with other options, so if you use an older computer, this might slow down your operations, sometimes notably. Restoration of files is a simple click from the Restore menu. One of the nicest features is that you can set it to never delete files, meaning everything – absolutely everything – is kept for 4 years come hell or high water. The security is a 448-bit encryption, which beats most banks. [Purchase: $60/year+]



Pro: Runs very well in the background for automatic backups
Con: Doesn’t automatically backup to a separate home drive

Smart and Simple: Backblaze has rapidly become one of the most beloved backup services on the market, and with good reason. It backs up external hard drives automatically and uses very little RAM to run, allowing it to work on nearly any computer without sucking up processing time. It does run fast when uploading files so expect it to tax even the most impressive wireless routers and suck your internet connection dry during the initial setup. While the uploading and storage are above reproach, restoring files is slightly more difficult since there is not a restoration option built into the software. Rather you have to download files from the server. That being said, they do hold up to 34 versions of each file saved, so if you want a version somewhere in the middle, it won’t be quickly overwritten. It works with iOS and Android devices if you so desire. The encryption is a basic 128-bit AES and all files are transferred over an SSL secure connection, so they can’t easily be intercepted. If you also like to backup to an external drive, you’ll have to do it manually since this won’t automate that process for you. [Purchase: $50/year+]



Pro: Encrypts files to be hidden from everyone
Con: Charges by storage amount

Hide in Plain Sight: IDrive is made for backing up smaller files rather than whole systems since they charge by the amount of space used, rather than offering an unlimited amount of storage space for a monthly fee. During setup it asks you which folders you want to have automatically backed up and then will upload anything saved in those to the cloud as you use it. By default it uploads once per day, but you can change that to more rapid intervals if you need them, including an immediate option. It works with Android, Apple, and Windows devices and has one of the nicest security systems for your mobile gear that we’ve ever seen. They have an encryption option that hides any uploaded data from everyone, including IDrive, so if you want to put your anti-government manifesto up, there’s less risk of the NSA reading it. Uploading and downloading are both smooth and quick, making it ideal for workplace environments or home offices that need files to move fluidly. If so desired, they can also mail you a hard copy of your backups, which is ideal for exceedingly large files, or having a backup on hand. [Purchase: $100/250GB]



Pro: Works with nearly any device
Con: Minimum customization options

Sharing is Caring: If you are backing up a whole hard drive, there are better choices than DropBox, but there is no other service that allows you to access your files more easily or share them across machines. If you find yourself leapfrogging from home to tablet to office to phone, you’ll want the versatility of DropBox, though we prefer their business solutions rather than personal ones. They have one of the largest free accounts out there which can be expanded based on the choices you make, making it the most budget-friendly solution for people who only need a basic backup and handle the larger system backups all by their lonesome. You can select either personal storage at 1TB a month or go with an unlimited storage capacity under their business plan for a monthly fee. They have a “packrat” setting that comes free with certain plans in which it keeps every single version of a file, which is great if you need the 1st draft of that screenplay. The speed is excellent and the capacity to work with any device allows you to share files of any size with friends, family, coworkers, or your cult followers. The massive infrastructure and popularity make their speeds blazing fast and their AES-256 bit encryption security tight. DropBox does keep your encryption key, so don’t put anything in there that they might need to turn over if subpoenaed. Customization options are paltry. [Purchase: $120 per TB per year+]