The best cloud backup services make it simple and easy to back up your data to the cloud, so you can access it from any device, at home, the office, or on the go.
This has become essential in the modern office and home to ensure data is properly protected against loss. In fact, a cloud backup is going to be an essential choice as part of a 3-2-1 Backup (opens in new tab) strategy, with your cloud backup taking the place of the offsite backup. This way you can us USB flash drives, or an external hard drives, as your first two on-site options.
Cloud backups services have come a long way very quickly, with many established cloud storage providers (opens in new tab) now offering integrated backup and sync solutions to help home users, small businesses, and even enterprises.
The positive of this is that organizations no longer need to worry about setting up additional and backup software with a file sync solution, as cloud backup tools required for not only making backups but also protecting data for disaster recovery are no increasingly included as standard.
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Choosing the right backup solution can seem tricky, as there's a lot to consider, given the rising threat of ransomware. How much storage space do you really need, for instance? Must the service support versioning (where multiple versions of documents are kept)? How should this be managed?
Security is important, too. What sort of encryption options do you get? How is access to your data managed? What options are there for managing your users, seeing what they're doing, and making sure they're complying with your policies and procedures? Are files easy to recover and download as part of a disaster recovery solution (opens in new tab)?
You're probably not going to get by with a free account for business, but there are plenty of business providers covering all sorts of different scales, ready to deliver the extras you and your company need.
Here then are the best cloud backup solutions currently on the market.
We've also featured the best free cloud storage services.
The best cloud backup of 2023 in full:
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IDrive is a versatile cloud backup service that does its best to cater to just about every possible need, especially as you get 10TB of storage space.
You're covered on PCs running anything from Windows 2000 onwards. There's Windows plus Mac support, Linux backup scripts, iOS and Android mobile clients, and backup support for Windows Server, Microsoft SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, and Oracle.
The baseline 250GB storage may not be enough for everyone (except for business users), but hybrid backup support – the ability to save some files locally – allows you to be more selective about which files head for the cloud, and which stay nearby.
Once your data is online it can be accessed via a web interface, synced with computers or mobiles, and there's even a mechanism for sharing files via email, Facebook, and Twitter.
IDrive Express is a feature that enables quickly backing up or restoring your system via a physically shipped drive. Unusually, the Business plan allows three free backups per year.
Despite all this functionality, the ability to create sub-accounts for your storage space and a straightforward web-based management console helps you keep track of what's going on.
Overall it's a likable package, and if your budget is non-existent then also consider IDrive Personal. There's no server backup or sub-accounts, but the basic features and 5GB of storage can be yours for free.
Read our full IDrive review.
Dropbox Business is another popular cloud storage provider that has options for individuals or businesses. While some people swear by the individual Dropbox plan, it's really the business plans we'll focus on here.
In terms of features, Dropbox Business offers an extensive amount of storage, with the most basic plan offering a huge 5TB capacity. Features include a single admin login, as well as 180-days data retention, 256-bit AES and SSL/TLS encryption, control over user permissions, file-locking, watermarking, as well as file syncing.
The Advanced plan offers unlimited storage as well as catering for file sizes of up to 100GB. On top of all the features included in the Standard plan, there are a host of team admin and management options, such as SSO to simplify things.
All in all, Dropbox offers a great range of tools and a huge amount of storage, which makes it an option worth considering for whatever type of cloud storage needs you have.
Read our full Dropbox Business review.
Some business backup providers try to compete on functionality, others on price, but CrashPlan for Small Business aims to do both. The service combines a low price with a lengthy list of features and controls, including some that are rarely found elsewhere.
The package works on Linux, as well as Windows PCs and Macs, for instance. There's unlimited storage space, including unlimited versioning, and it's easy to find documents by date, time, or version (such a useful feature that it could be a reason for choosing this product in itself).
The service is hugely customizable. You can have continuous or scheduled backups. Online destinations, local, or both. And it’s possible to use your preferred encryption or compression settings, retention policies, and more.
Some genuinely intelligent features help to enhance reliability. The package can watch for new documents in your chosen folders, for instance, ensuring files are protected as soon as possible.
All this can be managed from a powerful web console. You're able to monitor backup progress and settings, configure clients, enforce policies, and more, although notably, this is desktop-only – the console doesn't support mobile browsers.
There might be cheaper packages than CrashPlan for Small Business around, but on an overall level, they don't get close to its power and functionality. If you're a desktop user and need anything more than the backup basics, CrashPlan is definitely one for your shortlist.
Read our full CrashPlan review.
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, or indeed file size. There's no need to browse multiple service levels to 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 annual rate.
The backup process is just as straightforward, with the program initially backing up all your data – which can even be on external drives attached to the PC, or on USB keys – and then backing up individual files as they change. Your data is then accessible online via a user-friendly web interface and a mobile app.
Bonus features include versioning, where file changes are kept for four weeks. Encryption is in place, as you'd expect, on the security front, and an anti-theft feature records the IP address of your computer when it connects. Backup data can be sent on a flash drive or USB hard drive for speedy restores, anywhere in the world. Send the drive back within 30 days and Backblaze will refund the price in full.
The service now includes some handy central management tools. Admins can assign users to separate groups for custom billing, view details about their backup status and settings, and receive alerts on problems.
There's even built-in support for Backblaze's B2 cloud backup (opens in new tab), an Amazon S3-like service that backs up servers and NAS (B2 integration also allows for secure file sharing, should that feature be useful to you).
Backblaze delivers solid mid-range backup performance, and while some business users might want more, it will be fine for most purposes. Overall, this service is a great value proposition in terms of the features provided for the subscription fee, particularly the lack of restrictions and unlimited storage.
Read our full Backblaze Business review.
pCloud offers a regular backup and sync service, in which the files and folders you select from your device are automatically backed up to the cloud and synced in real-time. Any changes you make to files and folders on your device will be automatically updated in your cloud account.
If you delete a file from your device, it will go into the cloud trash folder, which is automatically emptied after 30 days for paid plans (or 15 days with free plans). However, if you pay for the Extended File History add-on, you can save file versions that are up to a year old.
As with other cloud services, pCloud is a cross-platform option that works for desktop (Windows, macOS, Linux) as well as mobile devices (Android, iOS) and has a web app, too. There's a lot to like here, then, although do note that those who want online collaboration features won't find any here (pCloud isn't alone in that respect, of course, and many folks won't want these capabilities anyway).
What really sets pCloud apart from rivals is its pricing tiers. As with other cloud backup services you can pay annually, but lifetime subscription plans are available that could work out as tremendous value.
Read our full pCloud review.
While Microsoft OneDrive offers 10GB of free space with the freebie user plan, when combined with a Microsoft 365 subscription, OneDrive becomes a juggernaut of cloud storage for your office files.
Whether you're running (or are employed by) a large business, or any other large organization, chances are you're working with Microsoft Office via a subscription with Microsoft 365. This means having access to the 1TB per user cloud storage through OneDrive, which is a major boon due to Microsoft 365 documents autosaving to the cloud.
However, if you're part of a smaller business, you may be trying to save costs with cheaper alternatives to Microsoft Office (opens in new tab), while paying through the nose for a backup solution - in which case, consider joining both together with a Microsoft 365 subscription, as it really does make it easier to have all of your office documents saved in the same cloud account.
Of course, the limitation here is that most Microsoft Office files are not easily going to fill that 1TB storage, and you probably won't be able to back up your servers or other key data from other non-MS applications to it. Even so, it's worth remembering just how useful OneDrive is with a Microsoft 365 subscription because a lot of people still don't realize what a vast amount of cloud storage you get with it.
Read our full Microsoft OneDrive review.
How to choose a cloud backup service
Greg Lissy, VP Products at SolarWinds MSP, shares his views on how businesses can choose the best cloud backup solution
A backup plan for a business is like an insurance policy for your data, so choosing the right provider isn’t something to be taken lightly. Low-priced consumer-grade products may be tempting, but if your business depends on access to your data, reliability is essential.
Check out the backup vendor’s performance and reputation. What do their customers say? How quickly do they get systems back up and running again? If something goes wrong, how much downtime can you afford before your business is seriously impacted?
Another critical consideration when choosing a cloud backup provider is where, specifically, your backups are stored. Many businesses must comply with regulatory requirements about keeping data in-country, so be sure your vendor can meet your requirements around data sovereignty.
Finally, it’s important to realize that security is a big part of backup and that backup is an essential ingredient in your overall security plan. Insist on secure data transfer to and from the cloud storage location, data encryption, and role-based access that ensures only authorized personnel can access or restore data.
While backup is critical, it’s typically your last line of defense. Be sure it’s complemented by a robust defense strategy including managed antivirus, web protection, patch management, and mail filtering. If one vendor offers a full layered security portfolio, you’ll be in an even better position, as you’ll have one trusted partner to rely on in your time of need.
Why backing up data is crucial
Check Point Research (CPR) revealed that with an increase in phishing and ransomware attacks, human error and a greater reliance on the cloud and enterprise networks, regular backups are essential for organisations to protect their data.
Preventive measures do not always work: As cybercriminals continue to target the remote workforce, companies have started to expand their cybersecurity strategy through robust defense software, both for the corporate network and the cloud, to update systems and apps on a regular basis, to install a VPN and to increase levels of protection on employees' devices, as well as to provide cybersecurity training for workers. While these measures do considerably increase the level of protection for a business, it is still possible that they could fail to stop an attack, as cybercriminals constantly develop new ways to get round the defenses. It is essential to have a backup plan so that no data is lost in the event of a cyberattack. If a company becomes the victim of a double ransomware extortion attack, having a backup system in place gives them the chance to quickly restore things back to normal.
Cyberattacks are evolving: Cyberattacks are evolving every day and cybercriminals are constantly striving to find security loopholes. Companies are often unprepared for new ransomware, phishing emails, and malware. This is why, despite the updates and protective barriers they may have in place, new generation cyberattacks could still get through these defenses and achieve their objectives.
Data theft puts a company's reputation at risk: Losing information by exposing customers' personal data can have irreparable consequences for a business in terms of reputation and financial loss. Since GDPR came in a few years ago, allowing q customer’s personal documents to be compromised can lead to litigation.
The cloud becomes another attack vector: It is true that the cloud has brought great advantages to companies, like reducing costs and allowing remote working. However, storing data on cloud platforms exponentially increases the attack surface through which cybercriminals could gain access to the corporate network. So, it’s a good idea, in fact, it’s essential to carry out regular manual backups of the information stored in the cloud, in case anything outside the company's control might happen.
Internal dangers are sometimes undetectable: Unfortunately, even with all possible cybersecurity measures and the best protection software in place, the responsibility of users is fundamental. It is essential to train employees on the different techniques and correct approaches to cybersecurity. Instilling in employees the importance of having up-to-date backups in the event of an unforeseen event or cyber-attack can be one of the best defenses.
How did we choose the best online backup services?
We looked at the features and the quality of service of the cloud backup services when we reviewed them. Number-based tests like upload or download speeds tend to be anecdotal because of so many variables involved so while they are performed, we only note any outliers (super fast speeds or very slow performances). More important for us are the general feel of the service (either when using a web browser or a dedicated client or a mobile app where appropriate), security (file encryption, ransomware protection), and value for money.
How we tested the best cloud backup
To test for the best cloud backup we first set up an account with the relevant software platform. We then tested the service to see how the software could be used with different files and folders, from different devices, in different situations. The aim was to push each cloud backup platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.
Read how we test, rate, and review products on TechRadar (opens in new tab).
Also read: What is cloud storage?