Updated December 2013
Online backup services work much like traditional backup software. With an online backup service, however, your important data is transmitted over the Internet and securely stored on a server in a professional data center.
The advantage of having your important data backed up off-site, away from your home or office, is that it's safe from theft, fire, and other local disasters.
Below are short reviews of most online backup services. Quickly compare features among my six favorite in my Online Backup Comparison Chart, read my interviews with them in my Online Backup Q&A, and get answers to your online backup questions in my Online Backup FAQ.
Note: Online backup services, sometimes called cloud backup services, regularly change pricing and plan details so let me know if anything needs updated.
CrashPlan is my favorite online backup service because of the excellent software, cost effective plans, and feature set.
CrashPlan's interface is excellent and the features abound including a web-based restore option, continuous backup, an unprecedented 448-bit encryption level (better than your bank), and the foundation of a proven and excellent backup software program.
CrashPlan Unlimited is $5.99 /month /computer and, as the plan name suggests, allows an unlimited amount of online storage.
CrashPlan Family Unlimited costs $13.99 /month and offers an unlimited amount of online storage for two or more computers, all under the same account.
All CrashPlan plans offer discounts for longer terms. You can get most plans for over 40% off if you prepay for four years.
For what it's worth, I pay for and use CrashPlan at home. I'm a few years into a 4-year term, have used it to restore files, and have no complaints.
I love Backblaze mainly because it's so straightforward with its pricing and software. I also like that there are no file size limits, meaning you can finally back up your 100GB virtual machine files and 12 hour 1080p videos!
The software interface is as simple as I've seen but there's plenty of fine tuning available if you want it.
Backblaze is $5 /month /computer and allows an unlimited amount of storage. The cost can get down to a monthly $3.96 with a two year plan purchase.
Backblaze also offers a just-as-simple, and just-as-inexpensive, plan for businesses. In fact, it tops my Business Online Backup services list.
If you're concerned about backing up online being complicated or confusing, you're going to love Backblaze.
Any exceptional backup service should be easy to use, automatic, reliable, and easy to restore from. Carbonite is all of these.
Many people rave about Carbonite's online backup plans - they've been popular options for a very long time. My experience has been similarly positive.
The Carbonite Home online backup service costs $59.99 /year and allows for an unlimited amount of data backup. There a few other tiers available as well, called HomePlus and HomePremier, and run $99.99 /year and $149.99 /year, respectively. Each offers a few extras over the base service.
Note: Slow uploads and bandwidth throttling used to keep Carbonite further down my list but that has thankfully been removed! This policy change is recent so some existing customers may still experience this slowdown for a little while more.
Mozy's online backup service works in a similar way to other services - you download and configure a piece of software and the backup is handled automatically in the background.
To get started with Mozy, visit their website and sign up for an account. Download and install their software, tell it what files or types of files to back up, and then set it to automatically back up whenever you like.
MozyHome Free is, you guessed it, completely free and gives you up to 2 GB of storage on Mozy's servers.
MozyHome's pricing is tiered: $5.99/month for 50 GB from one computer and $9.99 /month for 125 GB of storage from up to three computers. Deep discounts can be had for one or two year prepayments.
Additional computers and each additional 20 GB of space can be had for an extra $2 per month, each.
Mozy used to offer an extremely popular unlimited backup plan but ended it in favor of its current tiered plan in early 2011.
SOS is a big player in the online backup world, and for good reason. All plans offer support for an unlimited number of devices, unlimited versioning, continuous data backup, network drive support, and tons more.
The SOS Pro online backup plan comes in 100 GB, 150 GB, and 250 GB sizes and are priced at $9.99 /month, $15.99 /month, and $19.99 /month, respectively. You can get deep discounts on those prices if you prepay for one or two years.
SOS's online backup plans aren't the cheapest but it's hard to compare apples to apples in this industry. They have an excellent reputation and have been in the business for many years.
Livedrive is an online backup service that offers an interesting mix of backup plans, a cost effective way to add computers, and a really nice computer and mobile app interface.
The Livedrive "Backup" plan is the only unlimited online backup plan and runs $8.00 /month /computer. Add a computer for just $1.50 /month.
Their "Briefcase" and "Pro Suite" plans offer 2 TB (2,048 GB) and 5 TB (5,120 GB) of online storage and are priced at $16 /month and $25 /month, respectively. These plans offer several extras over the unlimited "Backup" plan like multi-computer backup, file editing and sharing, and more.
All Livedrive online backup plans offer significant discounts if you prepay for one or two years.
"Military grade" AES-256 encryption, an excellent interface, and competitive pricing makes any of the Livedrive plans a good choice.
Bitcasa states that it's "your external hard drive in the cloud that never runs out of space." Last I looked, my Bitcasa Infinite Drive in Windows says I've used 70 GB of my 8 EB drive... that's over 8 billion GB!
You have four options with Bitcasa: a free plan that allows online backup and storage of up to 2 GB, a Premium plan that allows 1 TB for $10 /month, a Pro plan allowing 5 TB for $49 /month, and an unlimited one called Infinite that runs $99 /month. Prepay any of the plans for one year to reduce the monthly equivalent price.
I've been using Bitcasa since the day it was publicly available and I see a lot I like. As a backup/sync solution, it works well. However, I usually find Bitcasa too slow to use like a real hard drive and the price is a bit high.
That said, I see Bitcasa make small but important improvements all the time. At very least it's is a service to watch closely. It has the potential to do something much bigger than just backup and I hope to rank it better over time.
SpiderOak is one of the better choices overall among the online backup services out there. I love any company that puts the effort they did into their FAQ page. Check it out on their site.
Pricing is pretty straightforward at SpiderOak. Everyone starts out with 2 GB of online backup space for FREE. If you need more storage, you add it by the 100 GB increment for $10 /month. Need more? Add another 100 GB for another $10 /month. You get the idea. One year prepayment will save you a little over those costs.
SpiderOak also has a unique "refer a friend" program which, if you have enough friends, could get you up to 12 GB for free.
SugarSync is different.... in a good way. It's actually much more than an online backup service.
While SugarSync does "traditional" online backup just as well or better than much of its competition, it can also sync files between all of your devices, gives you access to your backed up data from your smartphone, and much more.
SugarSync has three tiers of online backup service:
- 60 GB for $7.49 /month
- 100 GB for $9.99 /month
- 250 GB for $24.99 /month
All of the above SugarSync plans offer significant savings if you choose to prepay for one year.
SugarSync also has a business class plan staring at 1,000 GB of backup space for 3 users for $55 /month as well as larger plans that you'll have to get a quote for.
If you want more than just an online repository for safety's sake, you will no doubt be very happy with SugarSync.
Acronis, maker of the popular True Image Home backup software program, is also in the online backup business.
Three online backup plans are offered by Acronis True Image Online: $4.99 /month for 250 GB of space, $2.99 /month for 50 GB, or $0.83 /month ($9.99 /year) for 5 GB. You can cut the price of either of the two larger plans by more than 10% if you choose to prepay for one year.
Important: Please know that you must own Acronis True Image (either their Lite, standard, or Premium edition) to use their cloud backup service. These are good products and are priced around $30 to $80 USD depending on the edition you choose.