The Very Best in Online Backup Services - Our Recommendations
The biggest mistake computer users make is not backing up their data! Hard drives fail, computer hardware can fail and catastrophe can be just days away from reality. Thankfully, there are awesome online backup services available that can help you back up your important family pictures, business documents and other crucial data.
I already back up to an encrypted external drive and use a safe deposit box (or any other offsite location)! To tell you the thuth, I used to do the same thing for the longest time, but what I noticed about myself is as I became busier and busier with life’s twists and turns, I became less and less likely to go get that drive, update it and make the trip back to return it.
When you take advantage of a cost-effective online backup solution, any time you add new photos, update important files or add any sort of crucial data to your computer, all of that data will be backed up to your personal highly encrypted online storage solution automatically.
Should your computer hard drive crash, just download your selected service’s software on your restored or new computer and instantly recover everything you told the service to back up. It’s that easy.
Not convinced that online backup services are right for you? Not a problem. Take a look at our fifth choice for an alternative that is a perfect solution for the online backup wary.
Carbonite - Best Online Backup - Platinum Award!
$47.99/yr Per PC
$269.99/yr Pro Biz
Unlimited and Automated Cloud Storage Solution
- 15 day free trial on personal or pro plans.
- Personal plans all include unlimited storage but limited to 1PC/Mac per license.
- Business Pro plans $269.99/yr include unlimited PCs but limit to 250GB.
- Upgrade to Plus $79.99/yr adds full mirror imaging of hard drive and external HDD backup support.
- Your data is 128-bit Blowfish encrypted before being transferred to the cloud.
- Fully automated & continuous backup.
The $47.99 is based on current pricing shown on Carbonite with a 20% discount applied. Depending on when you visit Carbonite and current promotions, the cost may be full price which is $59.99 per year.
With the “Basic” personal plan, you will be able to backup all of your important files including music, email, settings, documents and photos automatically. Your videos can also be backed up on this plan, but you’ll need to manually specify that you want these videos backed up. This plan supports both Windows and Mac systems.
Upgrade Benefits: Upgrade to the Plus personal plan for $99.99/yr (before any available discounts) and you’ll gain the ability to automatically backup your videos without the manual process, backup an external hard drive to the cloud and it adds the ability to create a full mirror image of your hard drive for complete recovery should your PC crash. That being said, this plan is only compatible with Windows.
Sync & Share App: One nice feature you might enjoy is the sync & share features using their free apps. This will allow you to access your files on any smartphone or tablet and make changes to the files. Those changes will then be synchronized with your desktop file. All this without needing to create special folders.
Storage Limits: Any personal plan includes unlimited storage to backup your computer but you will need to pay for additional licenses if you want to backup more than one computer.
Carbonite for Business: Carbonite also offers business or large household plans called Pro. Starting at $269.99/yr you will be able to create backups for multiple computers in the house under the single plan. You’ll get access to all the Plus features from the personal plan but you will be limited to the total space used. The Basic plan only allows 250GB or upgrade to Prime to get 500GB space for $599.99/yr. You can upgrade the storage on these plans with a storage pack of 100GB for an additional $99.99/year.
From our standpoint, 250GB is a small amount for backing up multiple computers. If you are a power user, a single computer could easily use all 250GB which will leave no room to take advantage of this multiple computer feature. Carbonite charges $330/yr more for an upgrade to 500GB which is very likely to force people to evaluate other services for a cheaper solution.
Try Carbonite free for 15 days to make sure Carbonite is the best backup service for your needs.
$149.99/yr 10 PCs
Improved encryption and better family plans.
- Use CrashPlan Free plan to see how it works. Upgrade to get online backup.
- 448-bit file encryption with unlimited online storage.
- Monthly payment plans available or pay annually for a discount.
- Family plan supports up to 10 computers with unlimited storage.
- Mobile app file access supported.
- Create multiple backup sets with continuous backup frequency.
One area that CrashPlan improves upon their competition is their simplified plans that offer everything a personal or business user would need to have an effective Internet-based backup solution.
Individual Plan Payment Options: CrashPlan allows their subscribers to pay monthly starting at $5.99/mo or pay by the year for $59.99/yr which includes unlimited online backup storage space and transfer bandwidth.
A Better Family Plan: While other online backup services require multiple subscriptions to backup multiple computers or they offer a business plan with limited space, CrashPlan offers a reasonably pried family plan for just $149.99/yr that includes online backup for up to 10 computers with unlimited storage per computer! Additionally, you can pay monthly on this plan for just $13.99/mo.
Operating System Support: Whether you choose the Individual or Family plan, you will be able to use CrashPlan on Windows, Mac or Linux.
Security: Your files will be 448-bit blowfish encrypted at the file level and transmitted over a 128-bit AES encryption on any premium paid plan. Generate private keys and passwords for restoration to improve protection.
Unlimited File Versions: When you make changes to files, CrashPlan will store both the old version and new version when continuous backups are run. That way, if you screw up a file and realize it a day later, you can log in to your CrashPlan service and restore the older version. CrashPlan will store an unlimited change history of your files so you could theoretically restore an older file that has underdone 50 changes if needed.
Not Just the Cloud: One nice benefit of CrashPlan is they support backing up your data to external hard drives, other desktops and to the cloud. If you don’t want to store a massive backup over the slower Internet transfer, you can opt to store locally. You may also use an offsite drive when CrashPlan is installed on both computers with the “Friends” tab and a shared 6-digit code. This will add the remote desktop as a destination to store your backup.
Access Your Files on Mobile: CrashPlan offers the ability to access your files on mobile and share those files if needed. They do not allow edit and sync like competitors but if all you need is the ability to read PDFs, view images, etc. then CrashPlan will be perfect.
Business Upgrade: Backup unlimited workstations for $10/mo per computer which will include unlimited space and transfer. This upgrade includes the ability to manage other users on your network with administration privileges.
Seeded Backup and Restore to Door: Seeded Backup for a one time $124.99 charge will have CrashPlan send you a hard drive that you can use to transfer your backups locally which will be much quicker than over the Internet. Should your computer have a massive crash and need your backups delivered locally, you can pay $164.99 for restore-to-door service. They will transfer your online backup to a hard drive and mail it off to you. Both services include return shipping labels. These services are nice for those that have hundreds of GB or even TBs of data they need to backup or restore.
There’s no free trial of the premium plans but they do offer a free plan for people to try the software and create local backups.
SOS Online Backup
True file archive and mobile backup support.
- Allows separate file storage to free hard drive space along with online backup.
- Backup 1PC and unlimited iOS or Android devices on the cheapest plan.
- Leader in mobile protection. Apps, music, docs and video backed up on mobile.
- Backup ALL external drives and network-attached drives on one plan.
- LiveProtect feature provides real-time protection of specified files.
- Will NOT auto-delete files that are removed from your computer.
- No file size limits and no exclusions. Will even backup a 25GB video file.
- 256-bit AES encryption before files leave your computer for online storage.
Most online backup services are strictly for online backup storage of your existing files on your computer. The biggest difference with SOS Online Backup is the fact that they allow you to store and archive files on your computer for archival purposes including to free up space on your hard drive.
This means that you can upload many GBs of data to SOS Online Backup for archiving and delete the local copy on your computer. SOS Online Backup states that they will never automatically delete files from your cloud storage unless you request the files to be deleted yourself.
Pricing Options: SOS Online Backup allows monthly or annual payment plans. They are:
- Personal Cloud 1 Plan: $7.99/month or $79.99/year. Allows backup of one PC or Mac and unlimited mobile devices with unlimited storage.
- Personal Cloud 5 Plan: $39.95/mo or $399.95/year. Allows unlimited storage on 5 PCs and/or Macs.
Backup Your Mobile Device Support: Unlike most online backup solutions, SOS Online Backup allows you to backup your smart Android or iOS device. Where most provide apps that will allow you to access your desktop files, SOS goes a huge step forward by allowing you to automatically backup your Android files or to manually backup your iOS device including recent photos, added music, downloaded apps and more.
Backup ALL External Drives: Another huge benefit that SOS Online Backup offers is that they will backup all your USB, FireWire, Thunderbolt, eSATA and other external drives with your plan. They will even allow you to backup network-attached volumes from any PC, Mac or Linux machine.
Security: When you prepare an online backup transfer, whether manual or automatic, SOS Online Backup will 256-bit encrypt your data before it leaves your computer. Additionally, you can set an optional “UltraSafe MAX” user-defined encryption keys on your sensitive data. These keys will not be stored on SOS Online Backup so no one can access the data except you, the account owner. It’s so secure, if you forget or lose your password, your data is lost with no way to recover.
Multiple Version File Recovery: SOS Online Backup will store all changes to a file in separate versions that you can restore. If you remove data from a Word document that you later want to restore 6 months down the road, you can, as long as you’ve had your SOS account that long and had SOS creating backups for you.
Crappy Internet Connection Support: SOS is smart. Their desktop application can handle spotty Internet connections. Even if you are in the middle of backing up a 10GB file and lose your Internet connection, SOS will be able to resume where it left off once your connection is restored.
You can get a 15-day free trial with SOS Online Backup but this option is hidden. Scroll to the bottom of the page and look for “Free Trial” under “SOS PRODUCT.”
1TB storage $44.62
Offers a 5GB free online backup storage plan.
- 1TB of backup space for unlimited PCs and mobile devices with just one plan.
- Use IDrive Express to transfer 3TB of data via shipped HDD for FREE.
- Upgrade from 1TB to 10TB storage space for $374.62/year.
- Backup multiple PCs, Macs, iPhones, iPads and Android devices on 1 plan.
- NEW IDrive Wi-Fi allows creation of a secure local backup.
- Incremental and compressed backups only transfers modified portions of files.
- Online file sync. Real-time backup of changed files.
- Backup Facebook and Instagram photos and videos.
Free Hard Drive Transfer Service: Like CrashPlan’s “Seeded Backup” solution, IDrive offers something better called IDrive Express, they will send you a 3TB hard drive to transfer your data to them for free. You can use this service once per year at no additional charge or use it more often for just $59.95 each time. Just remember, if you fill that drive with more than 1TB of data to be backed up, you will need to upgrade to their much more expensive 10TB plan.
Pricing Options: IDrive does not allow you to pay monthly although they quote you a monthly price on their sales pages. Their plans are as follows:
- FREE – Get 5GB or storage space to backup your files with no credit card required. Never expires.
- 1TB – $44.62/year will allow you to storage up to 1,000GBs of data from unlimited computers and mobile devices.
- 10TB – $374.62/year offers the same features as 1TB but allows 10TB of storage.
- Business – Starts at $74.62 for 250GB and enables sub-accounts with administrator rights. Allows disk imaging, server backups and Linux backup via backup scripts.
True Archive Support: IDrive, like SOS Online Backup, is another “True archive” backup service that will not automatically delete files on the cloud when local files are deleted. Although IDrive limits you on the total space you can use, for most, 1TB would be fine and will allow users to free up local hard drives by transferring files to IDrive then deleting the local copy.
IDrive Rewind: Another awesome feature that IDrive has launched allows you to restore an earlier version of a batch of files all at once instead of having to restore individual files one at a time.
Social Media Backup: Unlike other services, IDrive allows you to specify your Facebook and Instagram accounts for backup. It will save any image or video uploaded to these social media services.
Security: IDrive uses 256-bit AES encryption to transfer and store your data. Set your own defined key that you will use to restore your data.
Overall, we really like what IDrive has to offer, especially with their IDrive Express service being free. They offer a ton of features you’d expect to find on any online backup solution and they also offer several features that nobody else offers.
I Do NOT Trust Online Backup Services!
All of the online backup solutions recommended on this page are services that we trust. We do understand that some people will not use any sort of service that stores data in the cloud, perhaps in part to that popular “Sex Tape” movie. If that’s the case, here’s our #1 recommended solution to help you back up your data locally.
Simply use the software to automate the process of making your backup to an external drive. You can tell this software what you want to backup, where to store that backup and also adjust the frequency or setup reminders.
With that said, here’s our recommended automated backup software solution meant for local backups:
Acronis True Image 2016 Local Backup Software Solution
$49.99 1 PC
$79.99 for 3 PCs
$99.99 for 5 PCs
For those that hate the cloud and want a local solution.
- Full disk imaging support including OS, applications and data.
- Certified for Windows XP, 7, 8, 10 and recent Mac OS X versions.
- Universal restore allows loading image on existing or new hardware.
- Industries fastest backup and recovery solution. Up to 50% faster!
- 256-bit encryption security and a private user-defined key.
- Restore entire hard drive or specific files or folders.
If you are looking for a true local solution to make backups of your computer(s), look no further than Acronis True Image 2016.
This software will allow you to make full disk images of your hard drive. This will backup your entire operating system, settings, files and documents. Along with that, you can easily restore your entire operating system should you get malware or spyware installed on your computer.
Restore specific folders or files as well. If you accidentally deleted or altered a file that you want to restore, you can do so with True Image 2016 without having to restore the entire operating system. Just load the software, open your backup and select/restore specific files with little hassle.
Acronis True Image 2016 includes fully certified support for Windows 10.
Which Online Backup Does Top Five Advisor Recommend?
If you are looking for the best and most reliable solution out there, we’d recommend Carbonite to you. However, if you are wanting to backup many computers in your household, we’d definitely recommend CrashPlan because it will save you quite a bit of money and allows all the storage you will need for backup of up to 10 computers at a very reasonable price.
We listed the other services above because they offer unique features that Carbonite and CrashPlan do not have that may be of interest to some readers of this best online backup recommendation page. For instance, if you are looking to backup your computers and want the ability to offload large files for retaining on an online backup cloud server, you will definitely want to look at SOS Online Backup because they allow you to store files that are deleted locally without risk of file deletion.
Other Online Backup Reviews We've Completed
The above are our top recommended online backup solutions that we consider the best or the best in the industry. We do understand that some viewers may want to try and compare other online backup solutions. We have reviewed four other online backup services for your consideration. Below, read our summary and click the link to read our in-depth review of these services.
- SugarSync Review – Offers a 30-day free trial. After that, 100GB of online backup storage is $7.49/mo and 500GB of storage is $24.99/mo. Sync with multiple devices is supported. Real-time upload of file changes. Offers secure file sharing similar to online storage / sharing sites like Dropbox. Remote wipe of data allows wiping all synced data in the event of loss or theft.
- OpenDrive Review – Offers a free 5GB basic plan which is upgradeable to unlimited storage for $12.95/mo or $129/year. Allows hotlinking files and online file sharing.
- ZipCloud Review – Allows unlimited users with unlimited storage. Unlimited usage isn’t unlimited in that they expect you to maintain “normal usage” but they do not specific what “normal” is other than to say it is based on a “series of statistical analyses.” If you exceed “normal” usage, they will ask you to migrate to their business plan. Requires name, email and password before you can see pricing and information unless you spot the tiny pricing link in their site footer. They will send a massive amount of email asking you to upgrade, so keep that in mind. Pricing runs 75GB for $8.69/mo to $12.44/mo for ultimate plan (unlimited).
- MyPCBackup Review – They also run ZipCloud. The plan, pricing and features are the exact same as ZipCloud above.