Best Cloud Backup for iPhone in 2021: Ditching iCloud

Finding alternatives to iCloud may seem difficult at first, however, that's why we're here. Join us as we pick out the top five best cloud backup apps for the iPhone, so you don't have to stay chained to Apple's cloud service.

Aleksander Hougen
By Aleksander Hougen (Editor)
— Last Updated: 2021-09-29T14:54:08+00:00

With as much as a quarter of all mobile devices worldwide running iOS, there is a huge market for providing a secure and simple way to backup the data contained on these devices in order to prevent data loss. Most iPhone users probably default to iCloud for this purpose, but in this article, we’ll show you why this is a terrible idea, as well as give you a list of the best iPhone backup solutions so that you can find an alternative.

Key Takeaways:

  • IDrive is the best overall iPhone backup software, with its only real downside being slow speeds.
  • Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is the best option for those who pay extra care to security and privacy, as it features flexible server locations and advanced ransomware protection.
  • Photo enthusiasts who want a way to store and manage their photos effectively should consider either BigMIND Home or Jottacloud.
  • iCloud’s severe privacy issues make it a poor service to rely on for iPhone backup, as it offers relatively few trade-offs compared to something with the same issues like Google Drive.

To spoil things a bit, the winner is IDrive, which — despite following the Apple naming convention — is not affiliated with the tech giant in any way. This is also our top pick for the best backup service in general, followed by Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office and BigMIND Home, which are also excellent options, especially if IDrive’s speed issues are a deal-breaker for you.

  • Probably. If your iPhone contains any sort of data that you wouldn’t want to lose access to, backing up the device is the only surefire way to prevent this from happening.

  • Neither is ideal, but for different reasons. Backing up your iPhone to your computer simply moves the point of failure to a different device, which doesn’t do much to protect you. iCloud and iTunes, on the other hand, have severe privacy issues, so you’re better off going with one of the five services listed here.

  • Our top pick for the best backup solution is IDrive due to its easy-to-use interface, excellent prices and additional features, such as a photo timeline and file sharing.

  • Unlike Android, iPhones do not support creating a complete backup (otherwise known as a disk image) of the device. Instead, you’re generally limited to your images and videos, contacts, calendars and sometimes messages.

What Makes the Best iPhone Backup Services

For this list, we’ve picked five backup services that we think represent the best ways that you can go about backing up your iPhone, iPad or other iOS devices. Whichever one of these you want to pick depends largely on your priorities, as they have different strengths and weaknesses. That said, all will work perfectly well and give you a way to protect the data stored on your iOS device.

  1. IDrive — Feature-rich and easy-to-use backup with very affordable plans
  2. Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office — A backup service with a wealth of additional security tools
  3. BigMIND Home — An easy-to-use backup with excellent photo management
  4. Jottacloud — Unlimited backup with tools for organizing media files
  5. Google Drive — An exceptionally simple way to backup your iPhone if you don’t care about privacy

The first and most obvious feature that a backup service needs to secure a spot on this list is the ability to backup iOS devices. Many services, such as CrashPlan (read our CrashPlan review), offer iOS apps, but only for managing and downloading already backed-up data. Others, such as Carbonite (read our Carbonite review) simply don’t offer an iOS app at all.

Beyond this, all the standard criteria we use to evaluate backup providers apply. This means that we look at features, both directly and tangentially related to backups. Security and privacy are also huge concerns, as these are the main reasons why just using the built-in iCloud isn’t a great option. There’s also ease of use, speed and last but not least, pricing.

Why iCloud Isn’t a Safe Option

The direct integration of iCloud into iOS certainly makes it convenient, but it’s far from safe if data privacy is something that concerns you. 

Although Apple has famously refused to hand over information stored locally on users’ iPhones to the authorities — mostly because it would have to create a backdoor into its own encryption, which could then be abused — this stance doesn’t extend to anything stored on iCloud’s servers.

This means that if you want to keep your data out of the hands of the authorities, or Apple itself, then you should keep it far away from iCloud and iTunes. According to a report by Reuters, Apple had plans to implement encryption for its cloud storage service but dropped them after complaints from the FBI that this would hurt their ability to conduct investigations.

If you still aren’t convinced that iCloud isn’t safe, look no further than the 2014 iCloud photo leak that exposed dozens of celebrities’ private photos and videos.

In case you’re still considering using iTunes and iCloud for your backups, or you want to get all the details about the service, make sure to read our full iCloud review before you make up your mind.

Best iPhone Backup Software for 2021

So, now that we’ve covered why you shouldn’t be relying on iCloud backup to keep you safe, let’s get started and dig into the actual list of third-party alternatives. As we mentioned earlier, IDrive is our clear favorite, which means that’s where we’ll start.

1. IDrive

Best backup for iPhone IDrive
IDrive offers a diverse range of features for a great price.

More details about IDrive:

Pros:

  • Feature rich
  • Unlimited devices
  • Sync & share functionality

Cons:

  • Slow
  • No unlimited storage
  • No monthly plan

IDrive is our favorite backup solution here at Cloudwards, mainly due to its incredibly extensive list of features. Although most of its features are irrelevant in the context of iPhone backup, the service still packs a punch on the platform despite the restrictive nature of iOS. This includes automatic camera uploads as well as a timeline of all your photos and videos.

IDrive can backup your contacts, photos, videos and calendars from your iOS device. If there’s anything else you’d like to backup, such as app data or messages, you’ll need to use a different service, though most backup providers have the same restrictions.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Its only real weakness is its speed. Though it varies, IDrive is generally on the slower side of things, with backups taking much longer than you should reasonably expect. There’s also no way to get unlimited storage and no monthly plan, meaning you have to pay for a full year at a time. Luckily, there’s a free 5GB plan that lets you try it out as much as you like before committing to anything.

In terms of privacy and security, IDrive knocks it out of the park. Your backups are protected with strong zero-knowledge encryption, both in transit and at rest. If all this sounds appealing to you, and you’re not too worried about the speed of your backups, make sure to check out our full IDrive review for all the details.

2. Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office

Best backup for iPhone Acronis
Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is one of the best backup services for security-minded users.

More details about Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office:

  • Pricing: 500GB of storage, plus one computer disk image for $89.99 per year
  • Website: www.acronis.com 

Pros:

  • Lots of features
  • Antivirus tools on desktop
  • Flexible server locations

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Complicated pricing scheme

Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office is an interesting backup service that, if you’re using it on a desktop device, basically doubles as a dedicated antivirus suite. Although these features aren’t available — or even really necessary — on iPhones, they’re still a nice little extra. As for actual iPhone features, Acronis outdoes IDrive slightly by allowing backup of reminders, in addition to contacts, calendars and photos/videos.

Unsurprisingly, for a service so concerned with ransomware protection, Acronis performs excellently, both in terms of security and privacy. Everything you backup is encrypted using zero-knowledge encryption, and you can even pick exactly what country your data will be stored in, which is a rare but welcome feature.

Acronis on iOS

The user interface on iOS is a joy to use — unlike the somewhat unintuitive and unresponsive desktop client — and everything is exactly where you’d expect. There are a few settings you can tweak, including a battery-saving mode and continuous backup. You can also perform backups not just to the Acronis cloud but also to a desktop machine or a NAS device.

Unfortunately, Acronis is quite a bit more expensive than other options on this list, with its cheapest plan offering only 500GB of unrestricted storage for $89.99 per year. This isn’t a huge concern for desktop users, as each plan gets to backup a full disk image of a computer regardless of size, but iPhone backups will have to fit on the limited storage. As always, check out our Acronis Cyber Protect Home Office review for the full rundown.

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

3. BigMIND Home

Best backup for iPhone BigMIND
BigMIND is an excellent mobile backup provider if you want a strong set of photo-management features.

More details about BigMind Home:

  • Pricing: 100GB of storage for $35.88 per year
  • Website: www.zoolz.com 

Pros:

  • Great photo management
  • Easy to use
  • Stream videos directly from storage

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • No private encryption
  • Limited storage space

For those mostly concerned with backing up photos and video — and then being able to manage and organize them easily — BigMIND is one of the best backup providers out there. It came in third on our list of the best online backup for photos for this exact reason, and nothing has changed in this regard.

The most interesting of these photo-specific features is the A.I.-powered photo identification algorithm. This is separated into two categories — objects and faces — and allows you to easily find a photo based on a person or object that’s shown in it. For example, if you want all your photos that show mountains, you simply tap on “mountains” and BigMIND will find all the relevant images.

Additional BigMIND Features

Besides photos, you can also backup your calendars and contacts. Other notable features include the ability to connect other services, such as Dropbox (read our Dropbox review), Facebook and OneDrive (read our OneDrive review), directly to your BigMIND storage. You can also disable mobile data and background backups as well as monitor your available storage directly from the app’s dashboard.

As for the downsides, there are a few. When you break down the price in relation to the storage, BigMIND is outrageously expensive compared to its competitors. You’re also pretty limited in terms of maximum storage, as even the largest personal plan only comes with 1TB of space. Finally, the lack of private encryption means that BigMIND’s security and privacy leaves a bit to be desired. For more information on all of this, check out our full BigMIND Home review.

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

4. Jottacloud

Best backup for iPhone Jottacloud
Jottacloud is another excellent backup solution for those looking to store and manage their photo libraries.

More details about Jottacloud:

Pros:

  • Unlimited backup
  • Great for photos
  • Fast

Cons:

  • No block-level file copying
  • No private encryption
  • Capped speed once storage exceeds 5TB

In fourth place on our list, we have Jottacloud, a backup service based in privacy-friendly Norway. This location is a big boon for those concerned with the authorities (or advertisers) snooping in their data, though unfortunately, the service does not support zero-knowledge encryption. Security and privacy are otherwise top-notch though, so it’s a small problem given where the servers are located.

One of the best things about Jottacloud is that you can backup and restore more than the usual selection of items, those being contacts and calendars as well as media files. In addition to these usual suspects, you can upload regular files, scan documents and take photos directly from the Jottacloud app. There’s also a setting for automatic camera uploads.

Jottacloud offers full sharing functionality within the Jottacloud app, meaning you can easily share any file you’ve backed up to its servers with other people with just a couple of taps. Overall, the interface is well-designed and pleasant to use, with a nice black-and-purple color scheme that’s easy on the eyes, regardless of where you find yourself.

Issues With Jottacloud

Aside from the lack of private encryption, the only major flaw of Jottacloud is the absence of block-level file copying — meaning you might waste time and resources reuploading entire files when only small parts have changed. There’s also the fact that Jottacloud caps your upload speed if you exceed 5TB of storage.

Jottacloud has a free plan in addition to four paid plans — note that the pricing is converted from euros. As always, we invite you to read our full Jottacloud review if this data backup solution appeals to you.

5. Google Drive

Best backup for iPhone GDrive
Google Drive, not technically a backup service, is still a very convenient way to backup your iPhone for those not concerned with data privacy.

More details about Google Drive:

Pros:

  • Excellent photo management
  • Reasonable prices
  • Incredibly well-designed iOS apps

Cons:

  • Massive privacy concerns
  • Limited storage
  • No block-level file copying

Our fifth pick for this list stands out from the others in that it’s not technically an online backup service but rather a cloud storage provider (you can read about the difference here). That said, it deserves a spot here due to the dearth of dedicated backup solutions that are compatible with iPhones, as well as the fact that it’s actually pretty well-suited to the task.

Before going any further, we should make clear that most of the privacy concerns we listed for iCloud at the start of this article are just as true — if not more so — for Google Drive. While Google Drive hasn’t had a photo leak like iCloud had, Google employees were caught snooping on consumers, which doesn’t paint a good picture of the company’s ethics.

That said, unlike iCloud, Google Drive actually offers a ton of functionality that makes it a more reasonable trade-off for users not all that concerned with the privacy of their data. You can read more about these privacy concerns in our full Google Drive review.

Google Drive Mobile Apps

Google Drive offers two separate applications for iPhone. One is the standard Google Drive application, where you can upload any kind of file and manage what you already have in storage. The more important application, though, is the dedicated Google Photos app. Here you can enable automatic camera uploads and manage your photos with ease by using the timeline or your own custom albums.

Better yet, any photos and videos you upload before June 1, 2021, won’t take up any of your storage cap. Unfortunately, this policy will end at the aforementioned date, but anything you’ve already uploaded will remain on Google’s servers for free. If you’re already using Google Photos and want to find an alternative once the change in policy hits, check out our list of the best Google Photos alternatives.

Final Thoughts

With that, we’ve reached the end of our list of the best iPhone backup software. Although we think IDrive is the best, those who need their backups to finish as quickly as possible would probably disagree. Photo enthusiasts might be best served by BigMIND Home or Jottacloud, while Acronis is the clear choice for security and privacy buffs.

Those fully integrated in the Apple ecosystem might also be interested in the best cloud backup for Mac, where Backblaze (read our Backblaze review) takes the overall victory, just ahead of IDrive. On the other hand, if you’re not that committed to Apple, you might be more interested in our list of the best online backup for Windows instead.

What did you think of our best iPhone backup list? Do you agree that IDrive is the top choice, or do you think its poor speed is a deal-breaker? Have you used any of our top five services; if so, what was your experience? Let us know in the comments below. As always, thank you for reading.