Best cloud backup (2023)

A graphic image of a cloud set in a digital background.
(Image credit: Shutterstock/ZinetroN)

The best cloud backup services offer an online space to store all your files and media - so even if the worst happens, your data is still safe. 

If you need to keep your documents and data secure, the 3-2-1 backup strategy is an excellent method. You should keep three copies of the data, stored across at least two different media types, with at least one stored in a different, off-site location. Many people combine the best cloud storage services with external hard drives and the best portable SSDs

But while similar, there are some big differences between cloud storage and cloud backups - you can find out more in our guide Cloud storage vs Cloud backup vs Cloud sync : What's the difference? 

You’ll find even the best free cloud storage providers offer integrated backups, but not all do. For that reason, we’ve tested the best cloud backup services. As part of our review process, we’ve highlighted security features, disaster recovery tools, interface and experience, platform availability, and pricing. We’ve also highlighted automatic backup performance and extras like cloud storage for personal or business use.


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The best cloud backup of 2023

(Image credit: iDrive)
Best cloud backup overall

Reasons to buy

Works on almost every device 
Straightforward web-based console
Good value for everyone from consumers to enterprises 
End-to-end encryption

Reasons to avoid

No ‘unlimited storage’ option 
Some options very well hidden

iDrive is a user-friendly cloud backup service that’s great for personal and business use. It effortlessly handles everything from simple photo backups for mobile and sharing files across networks, to protecting SQL, Exchange, SharePoint, and many other servers. 

Wide platform support covers Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS, and an intuitive browser portal. For more experienced users, there’s Linux via assorted scripts, and a range of network-attached storage devices like QNAP, Synology, Netgear, and Asustor. You can protect as many devices as you like with a single account. 

A lengthy list of backup options starts with simple file and folder protection, but you can also protect your iPhone's photos, videos, contacts and calendar, maybe add SMS on an Android phone, even create a full disk image for disaster recovery purposes later. But for all its power, we found iDrive's apps very easy to use, and our speed tests revealed backup performance was a good match for Google Drive and the top storage contenders.

For what you get, we were impressed with the subscription prices. A basic Personal plan starts at 5TB for just under $60 a year, with the Business plan starting at 250GB for $75 a year. Your internet isn’t fast enough to back up or restore hundreds of gigabytes of data? The IDrive Express service allows you to send files to or from iDrive on a USB drive via the mail. Personal plans can do this once a year for free, business plans get three tries.

When we reviewed the service, we were impressed with the sync speeds, with good file recovery and versioning tools. However, we were disappointed that you can't access these web features from the desktop client. Nor did the interface wow us - it’s a bit basic, although in fairness, it gets the job done well. 

Minor quibbles, really, for a platform that delivers an impressively wide breadth of services across all platforms at a good price.

Read our full IDrive review  

(Image credit: Dropbox)
Best cloud backup for simplicity and features

Reasons to buy

Slick and smooth throughout
Great business-oriented tools
Unlimited storage options
Well-designed mobile apps

Reasons to avoid

Not the cheapest provider

Dropbox Business upgrades the popular cloud storage service - but it’s otherwise familiar territory for those who use the feature-filled platform. 

For all its power, Dropbox is exceptionally easy to operate. The interface feels clean and elegant, and we particularly liked the web app, which clearly presented our files and folders, allowed streaming media files directly from the web, and came bundled with a host of useful options and well thought-out usability touches. On-demand backups are as simple as dragging and dropping your target files into the Dropbox folder, for instance, while the Dropbox Backup tool runs automated backups of your chosen files and folders while you get on with other tasks.

Performance was a real highlight. We found upload and download times almost twice the speed we've seen from some competition across both the apps and web interface. The business-focused tools are also an excellent addition. Paper, for example, is a collaboration platform where multiple users can work on the same document. We're not just talking about the multi-user text editors you'll find elsewhere. Paper also supports works as a brainstorming tool, a project manager, a calendar, a To Do list, a Wiki, and more.

Perhaps the biggest issue is price - Dropbox can’t match the likes of iDrive for price. Its Plus plan, for example, gives home users 2TB for $10 a month compared to iDrive’s 5TB for $5 a month in year one ($6.63 on renewal). But if you like its ease of use, or need its features or business integrations, Dropbox could still be your best cloud backup choice.

Read our full Dropbox review 

(Image credit: CrashPlan)
Best cloud backup service for no-limit versioning

Reasons to buy

Unlimited storage and versioning
Supports continuous or scheduled backups
Create backups to cloud and physical hard drives
Fair and simple prices

Reasons to avoid

No mobile apps
Upload speeds slower than expected

A comprehensive business backup service that’s simple to use with no file size limits. That’s the eye-catching pitch from Crashplan. 

We found this to be a hugely customizable service for Windows, Mac, and Linux with a pain-free setup. Once up and running you can mostly just forget about it, and leave CrashPlan to handle securely continuous and scheduled backups with both online and local destinations. 

On top of no-limit file sizes, there's no fixed limit to its versioning support. You can keep previous versions of files for years, if necessary. The desktop client can even limit its CPU usage when the user is active to reduce impact on system performance.

There are two straightforward monthly subscription plans: Small Business and Enterprise. Costs start at $10 a month per endpoint. 

It’s not perfect. We ran into a couple of issues during tests. Upload speeds proved slower than expected on default settings. It’s more cumbersome to restore files than we'd like. And there are occasionally silly UI choices, like requiring you to tag specific folders for storage and recovery. But if you want a desktop client cloud backup, there’s not much to dislike about CrashPlan. 

Read our full CrashPlan review 

(Image credit: Backblaze)
Best cloud backup for value

Reasons to buy

Unlimited cloud backup and bandwidth 
Low starter prices 
Multiple recovery methods

Reasons to avoid

Lacks advanced syncing, sharing, collaboration tools 
No full disk image backup or support for network drives

Backblaze is one of the best cloud backup services with a strong focus on simplicity.  Just install the app on Windows or Mac, it backs up all your files on hard drives and external drives. It then uploads new or changed files as they appear. Our tests found Backblaze’s impressive upload speeds kept delays to a minimum compared to many rivals. Like iDrive, Backblaze will also ship up to 8TB of your data on a USB to you.

Like CrashPlan, there's no limit on storage space or file size, so nothing gets left out. However, versioning support keeps previous versions of your files for up to 30 days - whereas CrashPlan has no versioning limit.

The apps are relatively basic. There's no file syncing, no clever collaboration tools, only the simplest of file sharing options. But smart system integration and simple apps make it easy to set up Backblaze, and the minimal web interface provides basic tools for browsing your files and restoring whatever you need. 

Backblaze is tough to beat for value, with prices starting at $7 billed monthly to back up workstations. Business users can back up servers and NAS devices to BackBlaze's B2 cloud storage service for $5 per TB per month, a fraction of the price you'll pay with Amazon S3, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure. 

Read our full Backblaze review 

(Image credit: pCloud)
Best cloud backup with lifetime subscription

Reasons to buy

Built-in support for backing up social media content 
Advanced file sharing features and built-in media player
Lifetime subscriptions at a relatively low price 
Block-level sync

Reasons to avoid

Basic desktop apps 
No document editor or add-on services

pCloud is a versatile backup tool loaded with extra cloud benefits, like syncing and advanced file sharing, for some of the best prices around.

We found the service very easy to set up on both mobile and desktop devices. The Windows and Mac apps add a Dropbox-like folder to the system file manager, allowing simple backups in little more than a drag and drop. The mobile apps can automatically back up new photos and videos as they're taken, while essential service integrations support backing up Facebook, Instagram and other content.

We did catch one or two issues. The desktop apps feel a little dated, not as slick as the best of the competition. But pCloud more than makes up for that with its hugely customizable file-sharing tools. You can create custom download pages for each file, build slideshows from shared images, even stream media files directly from your storage space. As an aside, when we reviewed the service, we were particularly impressed with the app's built-in media player - a good choice if you're backing up a lot of media. 

pCloud's annual pricing is reasonable, at $49 for 500GB or $99 for 2GB, but what really sets the service apart is its lifetime subscriptions. The 2TB plan can be yours, forever, for a one-off $399: Dropbox charges $120 a year for 2TB, so if you'll use pCloud for four or more years, it begins to look like a really good deal.

Read our full pCloud review 

(Image credit: Microsoft)
Best cloud backup for Office users

Reasons to buy

Tight integration with Windows and Microsoft 365
Very slick mobile apps
100GB file size limit

Reasons to avoid

Not a full cloud backup service
Not the best value if you don’t use Word, Excel and the other Office apps 
macOS client app could use some work

Microsoft OneDrive is a cloud storage more than a full backup service, but it earns its place in this for sheer simplicity and convenience.

If you're running Windows, OneDrive comes built in, no installation required. Drag and drop the files you'd like to protect into the OneDrive folder, and they're quickly synced to the cloud and made available on your other devices.

You can access files from other platforms, though with mixed success. The web interface covers the basics, for instance, but doesn't have the easy style of Google Drive or Dropbox. The Mac client is more straightforward, although we found some conflicts with iCloud. And we liked the elegant and intuitive mobile apps, with strong photo and video syncing tools and solid security.

You get up to 5GB capacity for free. Signing up for Microsoft 365 gets you 1TB of storage, along with the full Office suite - all apps are tightly integrated with OneDrive. You can collaborate on documents, and have them auto-saved to the cloud for maximum protection.

OneDrive only has very limited backup features. It's fine for saving your documents and photos, but it can't do drive imaging or disaster recovery. Still, that bundled 1TB of Microsoft 365 storage is a very welcome extra, especially for the price. If your backup needs are simple, OneDrive could serve you well.

Read our full Microsoft OneDrive review 

Best cloud backup: FAQs

How to choose a cloud backup service

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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 test 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.

Desire Athow
Managing Editor, TechRadar Pro

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website builders and web hosting when DHTML and frames were in vogue and started narrating about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium.

With contributions from