Cloud backup and storage comes in all shapes and sizes. For the purposes of our review, we’ll mostly be looking at cloud storage services that are aimed at individuals, with one option that also works well for small businesses.
You can’t really go wrong with any of the top cloud backup solutions on our list, but each option offers slightly different advantages at similar price points. The price itself is also a consideration, as is whether you need unlimited storage space or not. If you want a deeper dive into the pros and cons of each, read on.
How we rate cloud storage providers
The first thing most people look for when choosing the best cloud backup service is how much space they’ll get for their files. While a lot of backup solutions offer unlimited storage space, many limit the amount of storage based on the plan selected. Typically, free cloud backup options provide very little storage space, while paid options go from several terabytes to unlimited capacity. Chances are that average paying users will get more than they need, but for companies, unlimited options are strongly recommended.
Let’s face it – the idea of sharing your private or company data on external servers can be scary. Who can view it? Access it? How easy would it be for hackers to get unauthorized access?
To put your mind at ease, the best cloud services provide several layers of protection for your files. First and foremost, there’s file encryption. Even if someone should get a hold of your files, they would be useless to them without an encryption key. Then there are firewalls, event loggers, and other intrusion-detection systems that look for suspicious activity on the servers. Finally, you can opt for two-factor authentication through email or SMS, which adds an extra layer of security for unwanted intruders to break.
When searching for the best cloud backup solution around, it’s about more than just storage and security. As is the case with most software products on the market, the user experience can make or break a product in this niche. This includes everything from how easy and intuitive the cloud backup is to set up and use to how quickly it performs. Is the setup “set it and forget it”? How much time does it take to upload files? Is the interface clear and easy to navigate? All of these factors come into play when picking the best online backup services.
Number of supported platforms and data syncing
In today’s world, personal computers are no longer the only devices that make use of cloud storage. These days we also back up data from our work laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
A good online backup service will provide cloud storage support for multiple devices at the same time, so you can back up your data regardless of whether it’s on a Windows, Mac, Android, or iOS platform. Ideally, you can also synchronize data between your devices if you need to.
Backup frequency and file retention
Most cloud backup solutions back your data up at regular intervals, and the best cloud-based storage options perform cloud syncing instead of simply storage. Cloud syncing performs backups pretty much in real time, while cloud backups happen less often. At the very least, data should be backed up on a daily or weekly basis. Speaking of backups, it’s also good to know what happens with deleted files. Many providers offer long or even infinite deleted file retention on their cloud drives. Those files can usually be found in a recycle bin of some sort, to be deleted manually should we decide we definitely do not need them.
Price and value
As with all things in life, the cheapest cloud storage around usually won’t be the best. That said, not all backup services provide the same value for money, and some might focus on things you find more useful, or simply offer more storage or better security for the same price. This category is all about determining the value of what you’re getting for your hard-earned cash.