Note: Our best business online backup round-up has been fully updated. This feature was first published in November 2013.
If running regular backups is important for home users, it's essential in business: losing even a small fraction of your most important data, for a brief period of time, could still be a real disaster.
You could try to protect yourself by copying files to local drives, but that takes time and effort. It also leaves you vulnerable to fire, theft and hardware failure, which is why automatically uploading your files to a cloud backup service is often a better idea.
Choosing the right backup solution can seem tricky, as there's a lot to consider. How much storage space do you really need, for instance? Some accounts cover one person or computer only, while others support as many as you need – which is right for you?
File access is important. How do you access your data? Is there mobile support? Do you get file sync, or file sharing options? Does the service handle just about everything itself, or would you like to fine-tune it with backup scheduling, bandwidth throttling and more?
You're probably not going to get by with a free Dropbox account, but there are plenty of business providers ready to deliver the extras you and your company need. Here, in alphabetical order, are eight of the best.
- Also have a look at the best free PC backup software
Price: $50 (£36, AU$68) per computer per year
Backblaze has been delivering easy, low-cost backup services to consumers for years, so it's no surprise that its business products have the same focus on simplicity and value.
There are no limits on capacity, for instance, or bandwidth. There's no need to browse multiple service levels and try to figure out what's right for you. Backblaze Business is just a single plan which offers unlimited backup space for one computer, at a flat rate of $50 (£36, AU$68) per computer per year.
The backup process is just as straightforward, with the program initially backing up all your data – which can even be on external disks and USB keys – and then backing up individual files as they change. Your data is then accessible online via a web interface and mobile app.
Bonus features include versioning, where file changes are kept for four weeks. An anti-theft feature records the IP address of your computer when it connects, and backup data can be sent on a flash drive or USB hard drive for speedy restores (in the US, anywhere).
In our experience Backblaze has relatively slow backup speeds, and it doesn't have the control or advanced features you'll get elsewhere, but the service is great value and delivers on the backup basics.
Carbonite PRO Basic
Price: 250GB for $270 (£180, AU$360) per year
At first glance Carbonite PRO Basic seems vastly more expensive than value providers like Backblaze, but wait – it's not that simple. The base price looks high, but it covers you for as many computers, users, NAS or external hard drives as you like, and if you can live with the 250GB limit then that could work out to be very cheap.
Carbonite can manage just about every aspect of your backups, keeping training and other hassles to a minimum. Even the initial backup is largely automatic, and incremental backups then upload changed files only.
Encryption is vital in keeping data safe once it's left your system, and Carbonite uses multiple technologies, including TLS during transfer and 128-bit Blowfish when stored.
All your files are visible from a web interface, iOS and Android apps, and there are various ways to restore them: individually, or all, everything in-between, deleted files or previous versions (for up to a month), or everything that's changed after a point in time (handy if you've been hit by ransomware).
If your business grows and you need more, upgrading to Prime for $600 (£420, AU$810) gets you 500GB, server backup, and remote deployment and management of your computers.
Put it all together and Carbonite PRO Basic is an appealing package, especially if you've got several computers to protect.
Price: $120 (£80, AU$160) per computer per year
While many business backup providers try to compete on value alone, CrashPlan PRO also delivers on functionality, with features and backup controls that you won't always find elsewhere.
The package works on Linux, as well as PCs and Macs, for instance. There's support for multiple backup sets, and you can use this to back up some files locally, handy for very sensitive data or anything you need available immediately.
By default, CrashPlan PRO uploads changed files almost immediately, while other services may wait for an hour or two, so protection is a little better. But if this isn't convenient, you can pause backups in certain situations (low battery, selected networks), or maybe schedule backups to run when you're not using the system.
CrashPlan PRO also offers plenty of control over file storage. You're not stuck with arbitrary limits on file versions or deleted files, for example – these are unlimited by default, or you can set whatever figure you need.
The plan also provides a user account system to control who can access your files, and keeps them all safe on the server with 448-bit Blowfish encryption.
CrashPlan PRO isn't the cheapest of packages at $120 (£80, AU$160) per computer per year, but if you'll use its high-end features then the plan deserves a closer look.
Price: From 10GB for US$99.50 (£66, AU$33) per year
"Unlimited" backup plans have a lot of appeal, especially if you're unsure how much space you need, but choosing a more flexible account can save you time and money.
For example, IBackup's base plan offers a mere 10GB of storage, which doesn't seem too impressive. But if that's all you need, it's not bad value, and this isn't a hard limit – you can overshoot, although you'll pay $2 per gigabyte monthly.
IBackup's core feature set is reasonable, too. This isn't some rebadged consumer product: there's support for multiple computers and devices, server backups (Microsoft SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, Oracle Database), backup and restore scheduling, web/iOS/Android access, and permission-based sharing for more control.
Despite that, the product remains straightforward and generally easy to use. Backups are automatic, file changes uploaded as they happen, and smart bandwidth control – including a bandwidth throttle – keep IBackup's impact on other applications to a minimum.
IBackup could be a useful service for some people, but we do have one reservation: there are a lot of poor reviews online. Some of these are old, and they don't match our experience, but be sure to take the full trial and test it for yourself before you sign up.
Price: 250GB + 250GB sync space for US$99.50 (£66, AU$33) per year
IDrive Business is a versatile cloud backup service which does its best to cater for just about every possible need.
The baseline 250GB storage gets the plan off to a good start, with overuse charges a fraction of IBackup ($0.50 per GB for every month you're over). There's 250GB available to use for file syncing, too, and hybrid backup support – the ability to save some files locally – allows for keeping your most important files nearby.
IDrive can be used to protect as many computers and drives as you need, including Microsoft SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, Oracle Server, VMWare, Hyper-V and more. It's all accessed from the web, iOS and Android, and if you enable sync then your devices will always be up-to-date.
That could be complicated, but the ability to create subaccounts for your storage space and a web-based management console helps you keep track of what's going on.
Overall it's a likeable package, and if your budget is non-existent then also consider IDrive Personal. There's no server backup or subaccounts, but the basic features and 5GB of storage plus 5GB sync space can be yours for free.
Price: From 10GB for £77 ($115, AU$148) per year
MozyPro is a small business-oriented cloud backup plan from Mozy, one of the most long-standing and popular backup providers.
As you've probably noticed from the headline price, MozyPro isn't cheap, but the company does offer plenty of licencing flexibility. If 10GB isn't enough you could get 50GB for £13.99 ($20, AU$27) per month, or £147 ($200, AU$280) for a year (which works out at £12.25 per month) if you sign up for two years.
Whatever you choose, backup is a largely automatic, set-and-forget process. But there is also some configurability if you need it, including backup scheduling and even a choice of encryption (a 256-bit AES personal encryption key, or a managed key for 448-bit Blowfish).
Files can optionally be synced across all your hardware, including iOS or Android devices. Alternatively, you're able to access them all from a web interface.
If you've opted for the baseline 10GB account, this won't give you much space to play with, but MozyPro's admin console offers some handy controls. Set up individual users and you're able to set the number of devices they can back up, optionally set a limit for their total storage space, and enable or disable the sync feature.
MozyPro's high price will be a problem for some, but we've found the company provides a fast and reliable service. If you've had problems with cheaper products, give it a try.
Price: From $1,080 (£780, AU$1,460) per year for 10 users
SpiderOak Groups is the team edition of SpiderOak One, a very secure backup system for groups of 10 or more users.
The product is based on the principle of 'Zero Knowledge' which means nothing leaves your computer until it's encrypted, and SpiderOak has no more access to the data than anyone else. You don't have to trust them, or worry about the server being hacked, because it won't make any difference: no-one's getting in unless they know the password.
The backup process offers more control than some of the competition, as you can define exactly what you'd like to protect, but once that's done the program will generally look after itself.
There's very basic one-way sync available for your files, while a 'Shareroom' system gives password-protected access to selected files only. A web interface provides access to your current files, previous versions and deleted files, and there's an account management system to define exactly what your users can do.
It's a reasonable feature set, and if you have a large team which really needs a Zero Knowledge service then SpiderOak Groups will appeal. But the high price, average performance and relatively weak file sharing and sync means most people will be better off elsewhere.
Price: 1TB and up to 3 users for $660 (£440, AU$890) per year
SugarSync Business is a convenient file sync and cloud backup service with one or two handy enterprise-friendly extensions.
The core of the package is its powerful and configurable sync service. You choose your folders, and they're uploaded then backed up in real-time, giving easy access to your data from PCs, Macs, Android or iOS devices.
There's considerable control over file sharing. You can create public links to share data, invite specific people only, allow file viewing only, or give them editing permission, too.
SugarSync's key advantage over similar services is it's not just based around a single folder. You're able to choose any folder or folder tree, and have everything backed up and synced in the same way.
Opting for the Business plan takes the package further with 1TB of storage space for up to three users. Remote management enables the creation of user accounts with storage limits and permissions, and there's a bonus option to remotely wipe one of your systems.
On balance, SugarSync Business still doesn't have quite as many features as other products, but the strong sync and file sharing technologies have kept it on our shortlist.
- Also check out: How to backup your PC before upgrading to Windows 10