Updated May 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 business, is that it's safe from theft, fire, and other local disasters.
Below are short reviews of every online backup service I could find. See my Online Backup Comparison Chart for a quick feature comparison between my six favorite services.
Note: Online backup services, also called cloud backup services, frequently change plans and pricing. Please 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+ 10GB costs $2.99 /month and allows up to 10 GB of storage.
CrashPlan+ Unlimited is $5.99 /month 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 across anywhere from two to ten computers.
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 backup 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 business plan - unlimited storage for $50 /computer /year.
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. Mozy is all of these.
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 backup, and then set it to automatically backup 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.
Carbonite'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.
Many people rave about Carbonite's online backup plans - they've been popular options for a long time. My experience has been similarly positive. The only issue I've had is bandwidth throttling during the initial upload process but for most of you this will be a minor inconvenience.
The Carbonite Home online backup service costs $59 /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 /year and $149 /year, respectively. Each offers a few extras over the base service.
Carbonite also offers a limited online backup service for small business users starting at $229 /year.
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.
SOS online backup plans come 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. For example, SOS's continuous data backup feature, which backs up a new version of a file the instant it's changed, is a killer feature that I haven't seen elsewhere.
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 per computer. Add a computer for just $1.45 /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.
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 four tiers of online backup service, including a very sizable free one:
- 5 GB for FREE
- 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 TB of storage for 3 users for $55 /month and an unlimited users/storage plan 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.
Only one online backup plan is offered by Acronis True Image Online: $4.95 /month for 250 GB of space. You can get the price down to around $4.17 /month if you prepay for one year.
Up to five computers can backup to your True Image Online account. Also, if you happen (or want to) own Acronis True Image Home, their online backup service can be used in conjunction with it for a one-stop local and online backup solution.
IDrive is similar in most ways to other online backup services. Some features that make IDrive stand out among the competition include mapped drive support and more frequent continuous backup.
I found the IDrive software to be no more or less intuitive than any other online backup services. However, if their unique features are high on your priority list, IDrive may be just what you're looking for in an online backup service.
IDrive Basic is completely free and gives you up to 5 GB of storage.
IDrive Pro Personal comes in three tiers and offers support for backup from an unlimited number of computers:
- 150 GB for $49.50 /year
- 500 GB for $149.50 /year
- 1,000 GB for $299.50 /year
IDrive also has business-class pricing and storage options, up to 2,000 GB for $1,499.50 /year.
All plans are offered in one year prepayment form only.