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Cloud backup services review

Online backup can offer crisis-proof peace of mind, but there are pitfalls. We show you how to select the right service for your needs.
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01.Online backup services

People assemble a jigsaw puzzle cloud in the sky.
If you’re backing up your computer but you’re not saving your backup offsite, you’re only doing half the job. If disaster befalls your PC or even your home, all that data could be lost forever. That’s where online backup can be invaluable, giving you a last line of defence against loss for your most important files. 

We looked at these 11 cloud backup services to see how they compare and found they can help you gain greater peace of mind from knowing your irreplaceable information is safe. 

Benefits of cloud backup

With each passing month, more of our lives are stored digitally – photos, music, movies, financials and other personal and work information. It only takes one hard drive crash and you could lose all your irreplaceable files and documents. So it’s more important than ever to have these backed up securely. Ideally you should have a backup regime that includes daily backups to a local drive but few people take the next step – offsite back up. Even if you back up daily to a second drive your data is still vulnerable to cataclysmic events such as fire, flood and theft.

Business technology managers traditionally have a backup of all data, then a second and third backup on different media that they store offsite and rotate on a regular basis, but few non-professionals go to that trouble. Most people simply have a local backup drive attached to the home computer, if they have one at all. That’s where online backup comes in. You can store your important data offsite without needing extra drives or even having to leave the house. Once it’s in the cloud, on secure servers, you know it will be there if ever you need it.

Backup or sync service?

Not all types of online (cloud) storage are the same. Cloud backup is a different kind of online service to the random access storage you get with popular synchronisation services such as Dropbox. That type of online storage  is like having a hard drive in the cloud. It’s designed to give you instant access to your data via multiple devices and programs including other PCs or mobile computers such as laptops, smartphones and tablets, from anywhere you have an internet connection. This is enormously handy but very much a manual drag-and-drop process. 

Cloud backup software, on the other hand, works much the same way as your local desktop backup program, keeping an eye on which files have changed and automatically backing up only the new and changed files (or parts of them) on a very regular, or even continuous, basis. Like desktop backup it’s very much set-and-forget – unless you have a data loss crisis, of course.

Some services give you both options. It’s important to check what type of plan you’re looking at and the features it offers.

How we test

The overall score comprises an expert assessment of ease of use over the following areas: desktop client program, including ease of use of scheduling, backup and restoring files; web interface; backup options, help information and initial setup and configuration.

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