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Online Backup

Data plays a pivotal role in business continuity and maintenance of records in today's day and age. Losing data means losing your essential records that mostly cannot be reproduced. It is imperative to have all your data backed up to a reliable source along with a robust recovery system. Also, considering the current always-on-the-go lifestyle, it is essential to have a cloud backup solution that allows the flexibility of accessing your data anywhere, anytime.

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IDrive offers reliable cloud backup solutions that are affordable and easy to install and comes with a centralized web console - IDrive Dashboard to manage local or online backups remotely from anywhere.

In previous years, we differentiated between local backup software and online backup services. The first makes a copy of your data that you store wherever you choose, such as on an external hard drive. The other encrypts your data for security and sends it to the backup company's servers for off-site storage. Both methods have their merits, but more and more frequently, backup companies give you the option to choose. As a result, we now look at the best local backup software and online backup services in this one article.

ShadowProtect SPX Desktop is for tech-savvy Windows and Linux users who want a local full-disk backup they can set up and then not think about. We recommend it for people who are at least a little bit tech savvy, as the setup can be slightly complicated, but it's rock solid.

IDrive is by far the best bang for your buck when it comes to online backups. The affordable Personal plan gives you 5TB of storage space you can use to back up as many devices as you wish, including mobile ones. The software is reliable and simple to set up.

Power users who know exactly how they want their backups to work and will take the time to configure them. There are clients for every major platform, though most plans only accommodate a single device. If you need to back up multiple devices, look elsewhere.

SpiderOak One Backup is for privacy-conscious people who want a cloud backup that's fully encrypted and who are willing to put up with the inconveniences that brings. You can't ask customer service to recover the password used to encrypt your files, but that also means customer service can't access your data. There are clients for Windows, macOS, and Linux.

Backblaze can back up your entire computer to the cloud in a couple of clicks. There's no limit to the amount of data you can upload, though each subscription only covers a single device. The company can physically mail you a hard drive with your data if online recovery would take too long.

Backblaze is ideal for novice users who want a full backup of a single Windows or macOS computer without a lot of complicated options. Power users, who like to fine-tweak the way their backups perform, might find themselves frustrated.

Carbonite can do simple full-device backups, or you can configure it to back up your data exactly the way you want. You get some flexibility without giving up on simplicity. Licenses give you unlimited backup for a single device.

LiveDrive is a straightforward backup app with unlimited storage for a single Windows or macOS computer. It handles the basics of backup just fine, and the optional Briefcase feature works to sync files between devices. Confusing pricing tiers hurt its rating, however.

LiveDrive is suited to everyday people who want a simple backup choice, though with a few caveats. Its price is quite high compared with similar apps, and the lack of standard encryption features is going to disappoint security and privacy enthusiasts, though it does result in faster upload speeds.

OpenDrive is a viable online backup service with flexible pricing plans. The user interface is also pretty slick, meaning you can figure out how to use it without a lot of difficulty. Limited encryption options keep it toward the bottom of this list.

Both Windows and macOS have beefed up their built-in backup tools in recent years. Windows 10 and Windows 11 include a File History feature and a full disk backup feature, and macOS includes its Time Machine software. Both also offer some cloud backup, with iCloud and OneDrive, as well. These features and services are all well worth using, but they have some limitations, lacking some of the extra benefits you get from running standalone backup software.

For this to work, the copies of your files must be updated regularly. Most backup software lets you schedule scans of your hard drive for new and changed files daily, weekly, monthly, or continually (or at least, say, every 15 minutes). Usually, you also have the option to tell the backup service to monitor your drive for changed or new files to back up as they occur.

As mentioned, you can make local backups or online backups, sometimes called cloud backups. Online backup services securely send your data over the internet and save it on remote file servers in encrypted form. The big plus of this option is that the data is off your premises, and therefore not susceptible to local disasters. The downsides are that these services tie you to annual fees and that uploading and downloading backups is slower than loading local copies.

Don't confuse online backup with cloud storage and file syncing, which is what Dropbox, Box, Google Drive, and OneDrive offer. Those services do store files in the cloud, but they aren't designed to automatically protect all important documents and media files, let alone system files. Their strategy is generally to sync just one folder (and all its subfolders) to the cloud, and in some cases, offer collaborative document editing. Backup software and services do more.

Home backup users have different needs than businesses. If you need a larger-scale cloud solution for your company, check out our roundup of the best online backup services for businesses. These plans typically cover many more devices and include better administration features, but at an increased cost.

Backup services vary widely in how they set up and perform backups. For example, the totally hands-free Backblaze automatically encrypts and uploads all your important files without any input. IDrive and Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office (formerly Acronis True Image) let you choose specific files you want from a file tree. Note that some services restrict you from backing up specific file types or using particular sources, such as from an external or network drive. Make sure the backup solution you choose supports all your data sources.

There are three main practices for configuring when backups should occur. The most common option is on a fixed schedule, such as once a day, week, or month. The second, which we prefer, is to upload files whenever they're changed and saved, otherwise known as continuous backup. Services only transfer the modified part of the file in this scenario, so as not to overburden your internet connection or take up unnecessary storage. A third way is simply to upload files manually. Some users may appreciate having such a fine degree of control, but this method is only effective if you remember to run the backups regularly.

Some services go beyond file encryption. Acronis, for instance, includes security features such as active ransomware protection. A few backup applications, including IDrive, Backblaze, Livedrive, and OpenDrive, support multi-factor authentication.

We also prefer services with clear, easy-to-read privacy policies. If an online backup service says it sells your information to a third party, you may want to choose a more privacy-respecting one, so be sure to check the provider's privacy policy.

A backup service isn't much use if it doesn't make the process of restoring or recovering your data quick and simple. Backup services should offer search tools for finding files in your backup, for example. It's also desirable to be able to replicate an entire folder-tree structure so that it can help you recover from bigger data losses.

A few backup companies offer bulk upload and restore services, sometimes also called courier services. When you need to restore your data, the company sends you an external drive with your data on it, so you can plug it into your machine and get your files back fast. IDrive, Backblaze, and Carbonite all offer courier services, but charge different rates for them.

One of the biggest advantages of having online backups is that you can access your files from anywhere. Most online backup providers let you view and download files from a web browser and mobile apps, but that should be the bare minimum. Many also include file-sharing options, the best of which even let you specify a password for access and an expiration date for the shared item.

The quality and utility of mobile apps vary widely. Some just offer simple document and media file downloads from your existing backups, but the most feature-complete options let you back up data on your mobile devices and even control backups on other systems remotely.

The good news for consumers is that all of the major online backup services we reviewed this year are exceptional products. But while all of the contenders received the same high verdict, each product has its own unique selling point. Our primary concern here is backup, but we do note other roles that a service can fulfill, such as sharing, multi-device support, and emergency-restore options.

As noted above, the performance of online backup services will vary wildly according to their location and the network equipment between you and the data depository. We installed the software and backed up the same 2GB data set to check for any major issues or glitches in the client software. These are noted in the reviews.

Nearly all online services charge for a maximum allowable amount of data, and generally uploads are free. Aside from the free tiers available from a service like Dropbox, pricing is fairly consistent across services, though you definitely get more capacity for your money from some vendors, notably Backblaze. 041b061a72

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