Best cloud backup: 10 online backup services tested

Many common backup tasks can be managed from Explorer, too. You can add new files or folders to your backup from the right-click menu, for instance. A Carbonite Backup Drive folder enables you to browse currently backed up files, or their previous versions, and any of these can be restored in a click or two. (Of course you can also access your files from the web, or via iOS or Android apps.)

The service is a little short on features, though, with no synchronisation or file sharing options. And it's not as "unlimited" as some of the competition, either. Deleted files are kept for a month only, previous versions a maximum of three months with the Windows client, and there's no versioning at all for Mac users.

What's more, while Carbonite seems very simple at first, if you try to move away from the default settings then problems begin to emerge. Scheduling is horribly limited, for instance, and there's no clear way to launch a manual backup immediately. You get very little control over the system resources or bandwidth used by Carbonite and the program's options are scattered around, so you might access some from its system tray menu, others from the client and still more from Explorer.

There's still a lot to like about Carbonite, of course - the core backup tools are easy to use, restoring files is particularly straightforward and the prices are reasonable. But if you want lots of features that you can customise in great detail, then this may not be the service for you.

Find out more about Carbonite


Unlimited for US$59.99 (around £39/AU$67) per year

Best online backup 10 services tested

Most online backup tools are cut down, extremely basic, the core essentials and nothing else. CrashPlan takes a different approach, though - it's easily the most powerful tool in this set.

There's support for both compressing and encrypting your backups, for instance. You get an enormous amount of control over when your backups will run, how much resources and network bandwidth they'll take, and how long file versions and deleted files will be kept (anything up to forever). The program can even send you backup alerts via email or Twitter.

All this can be set up with clients for Windows, Mac, Linux and Solaris. These support quick and easy restoration, too, although you can also access your backed up files via a web interface, or mobile clients for iOS, Android and Windows Phone 7.

And although CrashPlan is hoping you'll pay for online backup space, this isn't strictly necessary. The program can also store your data on local drives, or a friend's computer - and you can do this with a free CrashPlan Home account.

The service is missing some of the bonus features you get elsewhere. There's no synchronisation, for instance, and no file sharing or streaming of your remote files. For online backup, though, CrashPlan is hard to beat: fast, powerful, yet very easy to use, it's one of the best home user backup services around.

Find out more about CrashPlan

Acronis True Image Online

250GB for £39.95/US$49.99/AU$59.95 per year

Best online backup 10 services tested

Best known for its desktop backup software, Acronis is now trying to make an impact in the cloud storage world, and its True Image Online is certainly a good place to start.

A solid feature set includes 250GB of storage, unlimited versioning, easy synchronisation and file sharing. You can use up to five PCs with the service, and all of this is accessible from PC client software, the web or mobile apps for Android and iOS smartphones and tablets.

This is far more configurable than the bulk of the competition, too. You can set a precise network connection speed limit, for instance (no vague sliders here). You're also able to define how many previous versions of a file will be kept, and for how long. And the most versatile scheduler here means you can run backups daily, on particular days of the week, on one specific day each month, when your system starts, shuts down, and more.