Computers are hardly the most stable technology that people use. When you think of the tools that humans use to create value in their societies, computers are actually quite unreliable.
A bed cannot crash due to an update provided by its manufacturer, for instance. A spear cannot fail to load.
But computers, like almost all the technology that followed after them, have the beautiful ability to solve the very problems that they create. And that includes their tendency to fail catastrophically.
Cloud backup services are monthly subscription services that help you recover from such failures.
Table of Contents:
Do You Need a Cloud Backup Service? ☁️
How much you need a cloud backup service is dependent on a few factors. The most important question to start with is this: Do you work from that computer? If the answer is yes, then you need cloud backup.
You may be asking some follow-up questions. Is your computer new? Does your operating system matter? Do you have viruses? All of these are good things to think about but consider that the answers to these questions can change at a moment’s notice. That is what makes protecting yourself so important.
Your computer can go from new to old in a day. Your operating system can suddenly matter if a bad update is released. And viruses can adapt to break through any firewall at any time. And yes, any one of these problems can render your computer unsalvageable in a worst-case scenario.
It is not a matter of whether or not these things will happen. It is a question of whether or not these things can happen. And the answer, for these questions and many like them, is an easy yes.
How do Cloud Backup Services Help? ➡️
What backup services do to help your work survive a computer crash is that they copy your most important files onto the cloud. So, imagine you are a video editor. You have your project file, as well as any assets you want to put into that project file, such as clips, images, and sound files.
If your computer crashes and becomes inaccessible in the middle of your project, then you might lose potentially hundreds of hours of work. A cloud backup service will let you designate a folder of files that will be uploaded to the cloud. Naturally, this folder will have subdirectories as well.
That means you can work from this folder, meaning that everything will be backed up automatically, or you can back your work up manually at the end of each workday. Either way, your work is safe.
What are the Best Cloud Backup Services? 🔝️
So, we now know what cloud backup services do. Which ones are the best? There are a lot of features that can make a service stand out. The most common are ease of use, price point, and the amount of data that they allow you back up. We will be going over all of that in these five best services.
1. Backblaze – Best Overall Cloud Backup Service
By all those standards, Backblaze is easily the cloud backup service that is the best to use. It has unlimited space for you to backup your files, meaning that you can do a whole system backup if you would like. Because of this, they also provide an app for backing up your system rather than a folder.
Basically, what that means is that the application will go through your entire hard drive, file by file, sending things to the cloud. This is also valuable since it is critical to a full system restore.
Alongside that is its cost—only $7 a month. Much cheaper than the industry average, particularly among services that allow for full system backups. And lastly is its ease of use, which is facilitated by a phone app as well as a desktop app. The advantage of the phone app is that it lets you access it anywhere.
This allows Backblaze to be useful as a file sharing or transferring software as well as backup software. You can easily send yourself files by sending them via the phone app. It also gives you access to the ability to backup certain files that are still accessible while the computer is otherwise asleep.
For all of these fundamental advantages over other products, Backblaze might feel a bit feature-light compared to other services. It handles the main job of a cloud backup service better than any other service. But if another service fulfills a niche that you find critical, Backblaze won’t get you switching.
The easiest example is virus scan capabilities. Some people will not trust a cloud backup service if it does not come with the ability to scan files for viruses before they are backed up. It is easy to see why: The most common reason for a computer to crash entirely is due to damage caused by viruses.
You do not want to upload a file that has a virus, only to redownload it after salvaging your computer (or getting a new one) to find that it was corrupted. This is the kind of extra feature Backblaze lacks.
2. Acronis – Best Advanced Cloud Backup Service
Different users will have different ideas of how to respond to a system crash on their computer. Some people are just going to want to move to a different computer. That is the fastest and easiest response. But if you have ever worked on a project, whether in technology or on a movie set, then you know that if something is fast and easy, then it is not cheap. And if it is cheap and easy, it is not fast.
And naturally, if it is fast and cheap, it is not easy. Acronis is of that last variety. It is heavy on features that are spread out over three subscription tiers, with lots of things to do and ways to back things up.
The most stand-out service it provides is restore points. These are full system backups that focus on keeping all of the files in your computer backed up to a certain date. That means you can “roll back the clock” to that restore point by replacing all the files on your computer with the ones from that date.
The advantage here is that if you got a virus or corrupted system files after that date, then you can just roll things back. The thing is that Acronis does not offer unlimited space at all tiers of subscription. That means for some people, you will have to know the most important system files to back up.
It also has features such as remote desktop, remote device wipe, and antivirus software. Surprisingly, it is also below average on price, at least for the most basic tier of subscription. The higher tiered subscription price points are still pretty reasonable, especially given the unique features they offer you.
Complexity is its own issue, and when it comes to these particular tools it can be a big issue. Basically, the interface combined with the high-level data editing tools that Acronis gives you a bit too much power. Many users will scoff in disbelief that “too much power” can exist, so let us explain.
If you have the first tier of subscription, which does not give you unlimited space for backing things up, then that means the only way to make a restore point is by backing up your system files and almost nothing else. That means you have to know which system files to upload, to begin with.
It also means that you have to keep those files updated. Remember, you cannot just upload everything. You have to carefully upload every individual thing you need for a system restore, otherwise it won’t work. The app that allows you to do a system restore also allows you to do a system wipe as well.
This means that very rarely—and we mean rarely, this does not happen often at all—it is possible, through user error, to trigger one when you mean to trigger the other. And triggering a wipe when you mean to trigger a restore is the last thing you want to do, especially if you did not back up your system.
There are still solutions to this problem, but it is a pretty big problem to have. And it is created by being given the ability to wipe away your system with a few button presses.
3. iDrive – Best Business Option
The example we gave as the best reason to get a cloud backup service is if you use a given computer for work. The more professional resources on the computer, the more important it is to have a failsafe in case that computer runs into problems.
Individuals should worry about this, but a business should consider investing in a cloud backup software on their employees’ behalf.
The reason is that you probably do not want to trust your employees to set this sort of thing up themselves. After all, most of them are just there for a paycheck. They do not care if your business succeeds or fails. If they lose their work files to something they cannot control, they have no liability.
Business owners from all corners of the country will debate whether or not this is right or wrong, but few of them will argue whether or not it is true or false. That is why iDrive is a good service.
What it provides is an affordable business plan. It has an individual cloud backup service, but for barely more money you can get a cloud backup service that allows up to five users to make use of it.
Five users means basically a whole team gets access to the service. Now, you can actually get unlimited users for the same price. But here is why you might not: If you have five users on one plan, then you have a team sharing a single cloud backup service. But if you have thirty users on one plan, then multiple teams are using the same backup service. This might not work as well, even if it is far cheaper.
It might sound indecisive for us to say that it “might” not work, because there are plenty of businesses where it would. It is just something to think about. And when you are running a business, you have to be aware of all the places where technology can both facilitate or debilitate your workflow.
Because of this focus on being available to businesses, iDrive has a lot of features for administration and maintenance. These can be tough to use, but critical to many teams.
Any application that allows you this much control has room for error, and that room for error is only compounded by being involved in a team. This is unavoidable, but it is also an incentive for some employers to either get a free cloud backup service for each employee or avoid them altogether.
But since you probably want to use this service how it is intended, then you should know that besides its administrative tools, it is actually rather light on features. All of its remote operation features are meant to be operated from a different computer, and its unlimited space has to be organised by hand.
It is also not the best service for individuals for this reason.
4. Spider Oak – Best Secondary Features
Generally speaking, you know the main things that you need in order to have a good backup software. Most cloud backup services will provide those basic functions.
But aside from doing those core things well, you might also be looking for some incentive to use another service that does a bit more.
Spider Oak is one such service that focuses on innovating to find new ways to use cloud backup services. For instance, Spider Oak’s main unique feature is its file sharing software. This allows you to share large files, and even directories, easily. This can be critical to working in certain industries.
One problem that many program developers run into—whether they are working in apps or games—is sharing project files. Project files for apps and games will usually be large and hard to transfer easily, making a service like Spider Oak critical to getting them into the hands of other people.
In short, the advantage that Spider Oak provides is that it is as much a sharing service as a backup service. They also offer high level encryption and sharing between platforms made easy.
Spider Oak is great for fulfilling this unique niche, as not every backup software is going to let you download the files that you upload without downloading every single file you upload. This feature, as well as the others that Spider Oak offers, does come at a cost though.
That is not a cryptic metaphor either; it literally costs more than other services. The galling thing about this to some people is that it does not have other features that they might consider critical.
Still, a high cost for a product with a lot going on is exactly what some customers are looking for.
5. Carbonite – Best Restore Point Specialist
This is a bit of a niche service, but the thing about niche services is that they are critical to the people who need to use them.
What Carbonite does is create multiple restore points, in this case going as far back as three months. That will sound like complete overkill for some people. Why is this?
Because some people are computer engineers who need three months of restore points in order to make sure that their work flows properly. It would be dizzying to explain the whole workflow but imagine this: If you are trying to modify an operating system, that takes time and effort.
And more importantly, it presents a risk: What if you make an edit to the operating system that creates an error that does not show itself until a month later? That can be catastrophic without a restore point.
Of course, Carbonite also fulfills all of your basic needs for cloud backup services. It does it at a pretty good price point too. There is a professional version with more features and a higher price point, and this is a rare case where the professional version does not feel like the “real” version of the service.
And by that we mean that the cheaper version does not feel gimped, and the professional version does not feel pointless. This is mostly due to the inclusion of administrative tools to the professional version, which are not very purposeful on the individual user version.
The advantage of playing to a niche is the same as the disadvantage of playing to a niche: Not everyone needs to play to that niche. While the basic version of Carbonite provides a lot to that niche of people making serious modifications to their computer, it can feel lacking to almost anyone else.
On top of this, while the basic version is well below average in terms of price, the professional version is well above average. It does provide a lot of features, but it also provides what many would consider highly basic things at an unusually extravagant price.
The end result is a service that does a few things great, most things good, and everything else expensively.
Other Important Features 👀️
We have talked a lot about the various features that might set a cloud backup service apart from others. But one thing you will want to be careful of is getting a service just because it pitches you features that you do not need. So, let’s go over a few of the features that are important to a cloud backup service.
If you think back to the three core elements of a cloud backup service—the amount you can back up, the cost of the service, and the ease of use—you can start to see the fundamentals of good features too.
Incorporating Various Users 👨️👩️
This is most important for businesses and families, but it can also make backing up multiple devices or projects easier since you can back those devices up in their own partition as if they were a user.
Antivirus Software 🔒️
The benefits of this are generally pretty obvious. But for many people who are getting their first cloud backup service, they might not know it is an option.
Remote Computer Use 🖥️
This is almost a requirement at this point, but many older services will lack this feature since it requires such a strong internet connection. In any case, it can be critical to fixing some problems.
Most other features are either highly optional or totally superfluous. That is why it was so important for us to establish early on why a cloud backup service is important—it is such an esoteric, technological need that it is easy for a person to get to thinking that it is not a need at all. But security is important.
But you will rest much more easily knowing that your files are safe from some sort of event of catastrophic misfortune. Especially if you have those extra features to use the service with.