Best cloud backup: 10 online backup services tested

All this power does make for a bulkier package, of course. If you're looking for simplicity above all else then the program's many tabs, links and options may seem intimidating, and it certainly takes a while to explore and learn.

If you'd like to configure every aspect of your backup, though, Acronis True Image Online is sure to appeal - and the scheduler will win many converts all on its own.

Find out more about Acronis True Image Online

Norton Online Backup

25GB for £39.99/US$49.99/AU$79.99 per year

Best online backup 10 services tested

Attractively priced, and with support for up to five PCs or Macs, Norton Online Backup looks at first as though it would be an ideal choice for the home network market. Ok, the 25GB storage space is a little low, but it may be enough for some, and you can add more if you need it.

The feature list seems reasonable, too. There's easy file sharing, you can back up particular file types (music, pictures, documents and so on), individual files or folders, and backups can be run automatically, on demand or scheduled for a particular time.

There is a significant problem, though, in that the service presents an almost entirely browser-based interface, which is slow, cumbersome and generally awkward to use. Deciding exactly what you want to back up is more fiddly than it should be, delays in the process meant we were regularly left staring at a blank screen and the system just doesn't make much of an effort to help you out.

Our experience of trying to restore a single file summed this up perfectly. The clunky interface meant it took a while to make this happen. The restore failed, but there was no alert, only a tool tip recommending we check the logs. We had to figure out how to do that ourselves, and even then the log said only "Restore failed (W12152)", with no further explanation.

Norton Online Backup may still be useful if you have a few key files you'd like to back up on several PCs, at minimum cost. Otherwise, give it a miss, since there are much better products elsewhere.

Find out more about Norton Online Backup

ADrive Personal

50GB for free, 250GB for $62.50 (around £40/AU$70) per year

Best online backup 10 services tested

ADrive's low minimum prices of US$25 (around £16/AU$28) for 100GB are a great way to get attention, but they're not the only plus point for the service, which is packed with interesting features.

You can upload and manage your files from an Adobe Air program, an FTP client, WebDAV or a browser, for instance. And your backup can include remote files, too: just provide the URL and the service will grab them for you.

A convenient file sharing option creates a link that enables others to download any of your backed up files. Password protection, and the ability to set an expiration date for the link, helps to keep your data secure.

Unusually, Zoho integration enables you to open, edit and save your documents, spreadsheets and presentations, without having to download them first. And the company offers 24/7 phone and email support, which might be useful if something goes wrong.

We weren't so keen on ADrives' desktop client, which is awkward to use and horribly basic, with limited scheduling and no real configuration options. What's more, ADrive's client was the only one in our test which failed in an upload, complaining of a "network error". Maybe there was an error, but what we expect a backup service to do is to keep trying, not give up and wait until the next scheduled run.

For all this, if you're happy to work from the web interface then ADrive has an appealing mix of features, and the 50GB free account (which doesn't include the Air client) could be a good deal for users on a budget.