Best cloud backup services of 2019
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 especially with GDPR around.
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? 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, making sure they're complying with your policies and procedures?
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 seven of the best.
- Also have a look at the best cloud storage services
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Cloud backup that majors in versatility
IDrive Small Business is a versatile cloud backup service which does its best to cater for just about every possible need.
You're covered on PCs running anything from Windows 2000 up. There's Mac support, Linux backup scripts, iOS, Android and Windows mobile clients, and backup support for Windows Server, Microsoft SQL, Exchange, SharePoint and Oracle.
The baseline 250GB storage may not be enough for everyone, 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 which 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 subaccounts for your storage space and a straightforward 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 can be yours for free.
A simple and wallet-friendly backup solution
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 $47.50 per computer per month on a two year contract.
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, anywhere in the world. Send the drive back within 30 days and they'll 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 storage, an Amazon S3-like service which backs up servers and NAS for a flat $5 per terabyte per month.
In our experience BackBlaze only delivers mid-range backup performance, but that's fine for most purposes, and we think the service delivers in terms of features and value.
Cover for as many devices as you need
Carbonite Safe does deliver plenty for your money. 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 has 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, and everything in-between, along with 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).
Put it all together and Carbonite Safe is a quality package, although as mentioned, there are cheaper services around.
A backup service that aims to deliver on price and features
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 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 customisable. 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.
An impressively well-featured backup option
SOS Online Backup for Business includes a host of features which are premium add-ons elsewhere.
There's no limit on the number of devices you can back up, for instance. Servers are supported, too. SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint? No problem at all.
The core product removes many of the annoying restrictions you'll find elsewhere. There's unlimited versioning, no file size limits, no maximum retention times, and the service backs up just about everything: PCs from Vista up, Macs, iOS and Android devices, flash drives, network drives and more.
SOS Online Backup offers an optional per-user encryption key which is never stored in the cloud, ensuring your data can't be read by anyone else. That's a major security plus, if you can put up with the usability issues. (You can't browse or access files from the web, and if you lose the key there's no way to recover them at all).
In day-to-day use, the SOS Online Backup clients don't always deliver quite as much functionality as we'd like. They're still above average, though, and the service scores where it matters, being both fast and very easy-to-use. There's a 15-day free trial if you're interested in taking a look.
SugarSync's business spin is a compelling offering
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 that 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.
Limited versioning support might be an issue for some. SugarSync only maintains the last five versions of a file, not much of a safety margin, and disappointing when some services have no fixed limits at all.
On balance, SugarSync Business doesn't have quite as many features as other products, but the strong sync and file sharing technologies have kept it on our shortlist.
Other cloud backup services to consider
There are other more popular cloud backup services worth highlighting for consideration. Here we'll showcase some of the best:
Google One is the new name for Google Drive, aka, Google Backup and Sync. For individuals it offers 15GB of storage for free, but there are business options available starting from around $2 for 100GB. Of course, there are bigger and more expensive plans available, but if you really are looking to need terabytes of space then the likelihood is that you're going to be using the Google Drive Enterprise option, either as a standalone service or as an integrated part of Google Cloud.
Microsoft OneDrive is a backup and sync option intended to support the range of Office 365 apps. At its most basic level it only provides 5GB for free per user, but there are business options available that allow this to be scaled up to as much as 1TB for each user, with a reasonable fee on top. However, as with Google, Microsoft's cloud service, Azure, may end up being a necessary option for business enterprise users who require a lot more storage for backup for their IT applications.
Dropbox is another popular cloud storage provider that has options for individuals or business. While it doesn't offer an enterprise cloud, it does offer unlimited cloud backup sotrage for business for just $20 (£15) per user per month. Individual users may be disappointed by the limited 2GB of space offered in the free plan, though.
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 defence. Be sure it’s complemented by a robust defence 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.