Best Cloud Backup Services 2021: Free & Cheap Backup Storage

A good backup service is essential for making sure that all your data is safe from accidental deletion or hardware failure. Join us as we list the top 10 best online backup providers so that you can have peace of mind knowing your files are protected.

Aleksander Hougen
By Aleksander Hougen (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-06-10T13:17:28+00:00

If you’ve ever been concerned about losing access to your files — whether those are documents, photos or anything else — chances are you’ll want to make sure they’re safe and backed up to a remote location. However, finding the right service can be a pain. So, we’ve put together this list to help you find the best online backup service for your needs.

Key Takeaways:

  • IDrive is the best overall backup provider, though if you want high speeds or unlimited storage, Backblaze might be a better option.
  • Backblaze and Carbonite are the best unlimited backup solutions.
  • CloudBerry and Duplicati are excellent pieces of backup software for power users who already pay for cloud storage.
  • Acronis True Image is the best backup service for security-minded users, since it comes with a range of additional security features.

We’ll highlight the pros and cons of each service, and hopefully give you a clear image of what needs each service fulfills. At the end of the day, any of our top 10 picks listed here will do fine, but differences in features and design philosophies mean that some will probably be a lot more relevant to your individual requirements.

Although most of the backup software listed here offer plans for businesses, for this list we’ll be looking exclusively at their personal plans. If you want a solution specifically made for businesses, head over to our list of the best online backup for small business.

  • All the services listed here are available on Mac and function identically regardless of operating system, so IDrive tops the list of the best backup services for Mac, just like it does here.

  • According to our criteria, our pick for the top backup service is IDrive, though you can’t go too wrong with Backblaze, Acronis True Image or pCloud, either.

  • You can backup your files to the cloud using any of the best cloud backup services listed above. If none of these are to your liking, you can also have a look at our online backup reviews to find even more options.

  • The price of online backup varies greatly. On the cheaper end of the spectrum, you have services like Backblaze, which offers unlimited storage for one computer for just $6 per month. Other services, such as IDrive or SpiderOak ONE, let you backup an unlimited number of devices but cap the amount of data you’re allowed to upload, with the latter being on the expensive side of things, charging as much as $29 per month for 5TB of space.

The Best Cloud Backup Services Compared

What Makes the Best Cloud Backup Services?

To rank the best cloud backup services, we use the same criteria that we use for our reviews — namely, features, pricing, ease of use, security, privacy, customer support and the backup process itself.

  1. IDrive — Feature-rich backup with unlimited devices
  2. Backblaze — The best unlimited backup at a cheap price
  3. Acronis True Image — Feature-packed backup with great privacy options
  4. pCloud — Excellent cloud storage solution with backup functionality
  5. Carbonite — Unlimited space with great security and privacy
  6. CloudBerry Backup (MSP360) — Complex but powerful advanced backup
  7. SpiderOak One Backup — Great sync and share features, plus unlimited versioning
  8. BigMIND Home — Easy-to-use backup with decent photo features
  9. Jottacloud — Great photo management and solid feature set
  10. Duplicati — Feature-rich, open-source software for free

Which of these online backup services is the right one for you depends a lot on your specific needs. Solutions run the gamut from highly complex and flexible to incredibly basic and straightforward.

The overall winner of this ranking is IDrive, which sports a rich set of features and lots of flexibility. However, those who just want a quick and easy solution might prefer something like Backblaze or Carbonite.

1. IDrive

zero knowledge storage idrive
Even though it’s packed with features, IDrive is very easy to learn and use.

More details about IDrive:

  • Pricing: 5GB for free, 5TB for $69.50 per year
  • Provider website: www.idrive.com

Pros:

  • Great security & privacy
  • Unlimited devices
  • Pretty good free plan

Cons:

  • Slow
  • No unlimited backup
  • No monthly plan

IDrive is an excellent online backup service that provides a wealth of features at reasonable prices, as well as great security and privacy. Pretty much every kind of device is supported, including servers, NAS, mobile devices, external drives and desktop computers. In terms of backup features, IDrive has every option you can think of, and versioning is provided for 30 days.

IDrive uses a block-level algorithm to make sure you don’t waste a bunch of bandwidth re-uploading entire files when only parts of them have changed. Mobile apps on both Android and iOS allow you to backup your mobile devices as well.

However, there is one significant flaw with IDrive, and that’s its speed. Despite supporting multithreading, both uploads and downloads take far longer than they should when taking into account connection speed. A courier service (which refers to the physical delivery of your data) partially relieves this issue, but not entirely.

Excellent Security & Privacy With IDrive

As mentioned, security and privacy is also excellent. IDrive uses AES 256-bit encryption to protect your files sitting on its servers and the SSL/TLS protocol to make sure they’re safe from man-in-the-middle attacks while in transit.

You can manage your own encryption key if you choose to do so, which makes IDrive a zero-knowledge service that’s incapable of decrypting your files even if it wanted to.

best uk backup idrive cta
Although IDrive doesn’t offer unlimited storage, it’s still very good value for money.

Although IDrive caps the amount of data you can upload depending on which plan you choose (see our IDrive pricing guide for more information), it does support an unlimited number of devices. The paid plans cost $69.50 and $99.50 per year, and they provide either 5TB or 10TB of space, while the basic free version of the software gives you 5GB of space.

Despite its speed problem, IDrive is still an excellent service that combines a huge number of features with a well-designed client, as well as great security, privacy and customer support. Add to this its very reasonable price and it’s more than enough to ensure IDrive the top spot on this list, regardless of sluggish speeds. Check out our IDrive review for all the details.

2. Backblaze

best uk backup backblaze
Backblaze prioritizes simplicity and ease of use over everything else.

More details about Backblaze:

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Cheap unlimited backup
  • Decent speed

Cons:

  • Flawed private encryption
  • Inflexible backup process
  • No mobile backup or disk imaging

Backblaze is almost the polar opposite of IDrive in terms of its approach to online backup. Rather than loading the client full of features and advanced settings, Backblaze instead keeps it as simple and straightforward as possible. To see how it stacks up against its biggest competitors, check out our IDrive vs Backblaze and Backblaze vs Carbonite comparisons.

This design philosophy is immediately evident when you first open the Backblaze application. Everything is contained in just two basic panels, one showing you the status of your backup and one for adjusting various settings. Although this makes Backblaze wonderfully easy to use, it also makes it rather inflexible.

Backblaze’s Excellent Security but Flawed Privacy

Backblaze’s security is top notch. Utilizing strong encryption, hardened data centers and two-factor authentication, Backblaze ensures that your data remains safe from accidents or theft. That said, its approach to zero-knowledge encryption is fundamentally flawed due to the way the recovery process works.

Rather than performing your recovery directly through the client, you have to upload your private encryption key to Backblaze’s website, which potentially nullifies the point of client-side encryption. That said, Backblaze claims to delete the encryption key immediately after you’ve restored your data, and for the moment we see no reason not to believe this.

best uk backup backblaze cta
Backblaze is easily the best unlimited backup provider.

Backblaze is also very reasonable in terms of cost. For $6 per month, you get access to all of its features and unlimited storage for one computer, with further discounts applied if you choose to commit to a year or two-year billing period. For more information on the specifics, you can check out our Backblaze pricing guide.

At the end of the day, the problem with private keys and the inflexibility of the backup process is what keeps Backblaze from the top spot. As we noted in our Backblaze review though, if all you want is a simple backup solution and you don’t care about private encryption, then Backblaze is an excellent choice. If these factors are deal-breakers, though, you should look for an alternative.

3. Acronis True Image

best uk backup acronis
Acronis True Image is the security-buffs’ take on online backup.

More details about Acronis True Image:

  • Pricing: Unlimited storage for one device for $89.99 per year
  • Provider website: www.acronis.com

Pros:

  • Flexible server location
  • Feature-rich
  • Unlimited versioning

Cons:

  • Messy interface
  • Laggy client
  • Complicated pricing scheme

For those who prefer a wealth of functionality over simplicity, Acronis True Image is another excellent choice. Like IDrive, it offers all sorts of features, including NAS, server, mobile and hybrid backup, as well as the ability to create a complete copy of your system through disk imaging.

You also get unlimited versoioning, and although there’s no multithreading support, uploads and downloads are still very fast. When it comes to security basics, Acronis supports both zero-knowledge encryption and two-factor authentication.

Protect Your Computer From Ransomware With Acronis

Besides serving as a backup provider, Acronis comes packed with a wide range of security features — from virus scans to ransomware protection — that makes it competitive with most dedicated antivirus suites. You can also choose exactly where in the world your data is stored, with locations including privacy-friendly countries like Switzerland.

acronis uk data centres
Acronis is a bit expensive, but you get plenty of extra features for your money.

Acronis’ pricing scheme is fairly complicated compared to other entries on this list. There are three plans, but only two of them — Advanced and Premium — actually include online backup. These cost $89.99 and $124.99 per year, respectively, and include unlimited storage for a single device backup. The Premium plan also gives you an additional 1TB of storage, and you can add additional devices to both plans.

Acronis Essentials One Computer
  • : Unlimited GB
Acronis Essentials Three Computers
  • : Unlimited GB
Acronis Essentials Five Computers
  • : Unlimited GB
Acronis Advanced One Computer
  • : 200 GB
Acronis Advanced Three Computers
  • : 200 GB
Acronis Advanced Five Computers
  • : 200 GB
Acronis Premium One Computer
  • : 1000 GB
Acronis Premium Three Computers
  • : 1000 GB
Acronis Premium Five Computers
  • : 1000 GB

All in all, if you’re looking for a feature-rich service that also offers unlimited storage space, you’ll get exactly what you need from Acronis. This goes double for users concerned with digital security in all its forms. For more information about the security-focused service, check out our full Acronis review.

4. pCloud

Best offline storage pCloud
Despite only recently adding backup functionality, pCloud is already one of the top contenders for this type of service.

More details about pCloud:

  • Pricing: 10GB for free, 2TB for $95.88 per year
  • Provider website: www.pcloud.com

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Hybrid cloud storage & online backup

Cons:

  • Not as many backup features as dedicated services
  • Zero-knowledge costs extra

Our fourth entry on this list, pCloud, isn’t technically a dedicated backup service. First and foremost a cloud storage provider, pCloud recently updated its features to include proper backup functionality as well, earning it a spot on this list.

pCloud ranks highly on our best cloud storage list, coming in at second place just behind Sync.com. For backup, it also performs excellently, though it doesn’t have quite the range of features (or in the case of Backblaze, focus) to get it into the top three. That said, it still performs the task of a basic backup very well, and it’s exceptionally easy to set up and use.

Stream Video Directly From the Cloud With pCloud

If you’re looking for a cloud provider to store your video files, pCloud’s built-in video player makes it an outstanding choice for this purpose. Rather than downloading a file to your local storage before watching it, you can simply open the video directly from the cloud and stream it, saving you valuable time.

Best offline storage pCloud CTA
pCloud is expensive, but it’s a two-for-one deal on cloud storage and online backup.

pCloud’s biggest weakness is its price. To get 2TB of storage space, you’ll have to pay $95.88 per year, which is pretty steep in the context of online backup. There are lifetime options available as well, which we detail in our pCloud Lifetime article. pCloud offers a 10GB free plan if you just want to try out its backup features.

If you’re looking for both online backup and cloud storage, you can’t do much better than pCloud. Although you’ll have to pay a bit more than you would for a service dedicated to one of the two tasks, the price is still generally lower than paying for two separate services, and pCloud will meet most, if not all, of your cloud storage and online backup needs. As always, check out our pCloud review for more details.

5. SpiderOak One Backup

most secure storage SpiderOak
SpiderOak One is a great hybrid backup solution for users who need their data to be secure and private.

More details about SpiderOak One Backup:

Pros:

  • Unlimited versioning
  • Excellent download speed
  • Great security & privacy

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No mobile backup or disk imaging
  • Slow upload speed

SpiderOak One Backup is another service that straddles the line between online backup and traditional cloud services. Because it offers extensive file sharing and syncing functionality, it’s a great choice for users who want those features in addition to standard backup functionality.

SpiderOak also shines when it comes to security and privacy. Recommended by none other than Edward Snowden, the service has a clear privacy policy and zero-knowledge encryption, so you can rest easy knowing that no one can access your data but you.

Unlimited Versioning With SpiderOak One

Versioning is one of SpiderOak’s greatest strengths. Where a lot of other providers — both online backup and cloud storage — limit you to a set timeframe, SpiderOak lets you revert your files as far back as you want, and keeps a record of deleted files in perpetuity.

best backup spideroak cta
SpiderOak is very expensive, but otherwise a solid product.

Hands down, the biggest problem with SpiderOak One Backup is simply how expensive it is. The basic plan, which costs $6 per month, offers only a measly 150GB of storage. By comparison, Backblaze and Carbonite offer unlimited backup for the same price, and IDrive offers 5TB for slightly less.

Ultimately, SpiderOak’s price keeps it from getting any higher on this list. Still, it’s a great service for security buffs or those who want traditional cloud storage and online backup rolled into one. If you want to learn more about the Snowden-recommended service, make sure to check out our full SpiderOak ONE review.

6. Carbonite

best uk backup carbonite
Carbonite is very similar to Backblaze, though it implements private encryption much better.

More details about Carbonite:

Pros:

  • Cheap, unlimited backup
  • Easy to use
  • Great security & privacy

Cons:

  • Terrible download speed
  • Not a lot of features

Carbonite is a backup service that has a lot in common with Backblaze, as they both focus on providing a simple and streamlined process with unlimited storage. Although it’s short on features, Carbonite does what it’s made for well — namely, backing up computers.

Things like hybrid, image-based and mobile backup are missing, but external drives, servers and NAS devices are included on some of the plans. The similarity between Carbonite and Backblaze ends with security.

Where Backblaze’s private encryption is flawed, Carbonite has no such problem. Besides this, encryption is strong, using AES 256-bit and SSL/TLS to protect your files from cybercriminals at rest and in transit. There’s limited versioning and a courier service, with the latter being very affordable ($9.99 per restore) for Carbonite Safe Prime users.

Set Up a Virtual Hard Drive With Carbonite

If you don’t like using the client itself, Carbonite also sets up a virtual hard drive on your computer. Here, you can find all the files you’ve uploaded and access most of the software’s functionality, including adding and deleting files. This is a relatively uncommon feature for backup services, though cloud storage solutions like Icedrive and Egnyte Connect also have it.

best uk backup carbonite cta
Carbonite is an excellent Backblaze alternative for those who want a more secure approach to zero-knowledge encryption.

Carbonite’s pricing scheme is convoluted, to say the least. You can check out our Carbonite review for all the details, but the most basic plan — called Carbonite Safe — will run you $6 per month and includes unlimited storage space. Unfortunately, some random features such as automatic video uploads and server backup are restricted to more expensive plans.

Carbonite Safe Basic
  • : Unlimited GB
Carbonite Safe Plus
  • : Unlimited GB
Carbonite Safe Prime
  • : Unlimited GB
Carbonite Safe Backup Pro
  • : Unlimited GB
Carbonite Safe Server Backup
  • : Unlimited GB
Carbonite Safe Server Backup Ultimate
  • : Unlimited GB

If you’re the kind of user who doesn’t want to spend too much time thinking about how to backup to the cloud, but Backblaze’s implementation of private encryption concerns you, then Carbonite is definitely the way to go. Unfortunately, poor speed and limited versioning brings the service down. For a full rundown on how it compares to our top pick, check out our IDrive vs Carbonite comparison.

7. CloudBerry Backup (MSP360)

CloudBerry-Main-Panel
If you’re a power-user who wants as much control as possible over your backups, CloudBerry is probably the best option.

More details about CloudBerry Backup:

Pros:

  • Flexible
  • Lots of features

Cons:

  • Requires a third-party storage provider
  • Complex

If you’re a power-user who already pays for some kind of business storage, look no further than CloudBerry Backup. More than any other service on this list, CloudBerry lets the user tweak and tune every single detail of their backup. From unlimited versioning to advanced scheduling, multithreading, block-level uploads and support for a vast range of device types, CloudBerry has pretty much everything.

The story is similar when it comes to security. Depending on your storage provider (more on that in a second), CloudBerry supports client-side encryption and two-factor authentication.

Automate Your Business Storage With CloudBerry

Rather than managing its own data centers directly, CloudBerry needs to be paired with a third-party storage provider that you’ll have to sign up to — and potentially pay for — separately. Unlike the more beginner-friendly Duplicati, CloudBerry is compatible only with business-focused storage such as Amazon S3, Backblaze B2 and Microsoft Azure.

Although this certainly makes the service less appealing for beginners, CloudBerry is an excellent tool for automating and managing the backup process for users who already use a service like Google Cloud or Wasabi.

best uk backup cloudberry cta
CloudBerry is a great option for people who already pay for IaaS storage and want a lot of control over their backup.

Since CloudBerry doesn’t provide you with any of its own storage, there’s no recurring subscription. Instead, you purchase the software for a one-time fee which varies depending on the operating system. The Windows version costs $49.99, while the Mac and Linux versions are cheaper at just $29.99.

Desktop Pro
  • Annual Maintenance Fee: $10
  • : 5000 GB
Windows Server
  • Annual Maintenance Fee: $24
  • : Unlimited GB
MS SQL Server
  • Annual Maintenance Fee: $30
  • : Unlimited GB
MS Exchange
  • Annual Maintenance Fee: $46
  • : Unlimited GB
Ultimate
  • Annual Maintenance Fee: $60
  • : Unlimited GB

All in all, CloudBerry is an excellent backup service for more advanced users, especially if you’re already familiar with IaaS providers. However, more casual users just looking for a basic backup solution will probably want something that’s a lot simpler.

8. BigMIND Home

bigmind-main-panel
BigMIND is expensive, but nonetheless a decent online backup solution.

More details about BigMIND Home:

Pros:

  • Good for photos
  • Video streaming
  • Mobile backup

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No private encryption
  • No disk imaging
  • Limited devices & storage space

BigMIND Home is another cloud backup service owned by Genie9, the company behind Zoolz. Because of this, the general user interface of BigMIND is virtually identical to Zoolz’s, which isn’t a bad thing, as they are both well designed and easy to use (read our Zoolz review for more info). BigMIND is also one of the fastest backup services, especially for downloads.

In terms of features, BigMIND supports scheduled, incremental and continuous backups. You can use the service to backup an external drive, as well as your Android and iOS devices. Support for hybrid backups, multithreading, throttling and block-level file copying is also included, and you can stream video directly from the server, which is great.

Backup Your Photos With BigMIND Home

BigMIND Home also comes with an excellent app for iOS and Android that is especially well suited to backing up photos and videos. The app comes with an AI feature that will scan your photos for objects and faces, and create categories for anything that shows up multiple times. Unfortunately, it seems quite poor at recognizing individual people, but it does well with objects.

That said, the mobile app is also quite inflexible, as you can’t select individual files for upload. Instead, you have to select entire categories (such as photos or contacts) and upload everything within them.

best backup bigmind cta
BigMIND is a decent, if expensive, backup option.

The biggest drawback to BigMIND Home is its price. The plans run from $2.99 per month for 100GB of storage for one computer and three mobile devices to $12.99 per month for 1TB of space for five computers and 15 mobile devices. This adds up to a pretty expensive service when compared to others on this list, especially because none of the plans include unlimited storage or devices.

Free
  • Users: 1 Computers: 3 Mobile Devices: 3 External Drives: 1
  • : 1 GB
Personal
  • Users: 1 Computers: 3 Mobile Devices: 3 External Drives: unlimited
  • : 100 GB
Family
  • Users: 3 Computers: 9 Mobile Devices: 6 External Drives: unlimited
  • : 500 GB
Family Plus
  • Users: 5 Computers: 15 Mobile Devices: Unlimited External Drives: unlimited
  • : 1000 GB
BigMIND Business Smart Archive
  • 500 users/50 servers Cold storage
  • : 1000 GB

All in all, BigMIND Home is a decent cloud backup service if you’re looking for something to protect your photos and videos, and you don’t need that much space nor care about private encryption. Otherwise, though, it’s far too expensive to make it any higher on this list. If you want more details, be sure to check out our full BigMIND Home review.

9. Jottacloud

Jottacloud-Main-Panel
Jottacloud has servers in privacy-friendly Norway, which means that you can rest easy knowing that the authorities probably aren’t snooping on your files.

More details about Jottacloud:

  • Pricing: Unlimited storage for one device for $7.92 per month
  • Provider website: www.jottacloud.com

Pros:

  • File syncing & sharing
  • Great for photos
  • Reasonable prices

Cons:

  • No block-level uploads
  • Can’t select individual files
  • No private encryption

Jottacloud is a reasonably priced online backup service with lots of features. All device types are supported, and there’s multithreading and speed throttling. Jottacloud also comes with extensive file syncing and sharing functionality. This makes it another service that becomes much more attractive if you’re looking for something that’s more of a hybrid between traditional cloud storage and dedicated backup.

Although the interface design feels like it’s been ripped straight out of the mid-2000s in terms of look and feel, it’s still easy to understand and use. When it comes to security and privacy, the biggest problem with Jottacloud is that it doesn’t support private encryption. However, the servers are located in Norway, which has some of the strictest digital privacy laws in the world.

Manage Your Photo Library With Jottacloud

Jottacloud also offers mobile apps for Android and iOS that are especially great for photo backup and management. Besides letting you upload data from your phone or tablet, it sports a photo management interface that is very similar to Google Photos, which is easily one of the best cloud storage services for photos.

Jottacloud
If your primary backup need is for photos, then Jottacloud might be the number one option for you.

Jottacoud’s prices are also reasonable. You can choose between unlimited storage for a single computer for $7.92 per month, or storage ranging from 1TB to 20TB of space for five devices for $7.74 to $118 per month. Note that Jottacloud only provides pricing in euros, so these numbers are approximate.

In conclusion, Jottacloud is a great choice if you want excellent security and privacy — as long as you trust the privacy laws of Norway — at reasonable prices both for unlimited storage or multiple devices. As we note in our Jottacloud review, If backing up and managing your photos is something that’s important to you, then that’s another great reason to go for Jottacloud.

10. Duplicati

best uk backup duplicati
If you like CloudBerry but you don’t want to spend any money, Duplicati is worth your consideration.

More details about Duplicati:

Pros:

  • Free
  • Open-source
  • Browser-based

Cons:

  • Complicated
  • Requires third-party storage
  • No mobile apps

Duplicati is another online backup service that, like CloudBerry, doesn’t offer its own server space, relying instead on third-party providers. Unlike CloudBerry, though, it supports consumer-facing storage, such as Dropbox, Google Drive and Microsoft OneDrive.

Although this makes Duplicati significantly more accessible to casual users than CloudBerry, it’s still quite a bit more involved than most of the other online backup services on this list. It also doesn’t offer any kind of mobile access, which is a problem for anyone who wants to be able to manage their backups remotely.

Browser-Based Backup With Duplicati

Unlike every other cloud backup service on this list, Duplicati is 100 percent web-based. This means that instead of a dedicated desktop client, Duplicati operates entirely within your web browser. Although some people might prefer using a desktop client to perform their backups, the upside to this approach is that Duplicati is compatible with all major operating systems.

linux cloud backup duplicati cta
You’ll never have to pay a dime to use Duplicati, and it’s open-source, to boot.

Customer support is practically nonexistent, with the only option for assistance being a user-driven support forum. You can’t really hold this against Duplicati, though, given the fact that the service is entirely free and open-source.

If you like the idea of CloudBerry but are turned off by the complexity of having to use an IaaS service, then Duplicati is the perfect solution to this problem. However, it’s still quite a bit more complex than services like Backblaze and Carbonite, so those looking for the simplest way possible to protect their files should probably look elsewhere. Read our full Duplicati review for more.

Final Thoughts

That concludes our list of the 10 best cloud backup services. All in all, we think IDrive deserves the win, despite its lackluster speeds. However, some users will probably find services like Backblaze and Carbonite to be much more in line with their needs. If you think IDrive is right for you but the poor speed turns you off, then Acronis True Image is a great alternative.

What do you think of our list of the best cloud backup solutions? Do you agree with our choice of IDrive as the overall winner, or do you think that its speed problems disqualify it from the top spot? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.