Best Free Online Backup

Everyone is asking you for a loan, you need to pay the plumber, your bank is demanding payment and the car needs fixed. Life is tough, and now you even need to pay for online backup. Well, not exactly, because if you don’t need to backup a lot of files, you can manage with a free account. To help you do that, we made a list of the best free online backup.

Online backup, even with a free account, will help you backup your important files. That way, you won’t have to worry that hard drive crashes, malfunctions, acts of nature or software glitches will make you lose your files.

If you’re not sure you need a cloud backup service because you think you can use the best data recovery software to try to recover your files, give it another thought. Data recovery software isn’t 100 percent reliable. Solid-state drives experience more data errors, too.

Most cloud backup services only mirror the structure of your hard drive in the cloud and won’t save you space. Cloud storage will let you do that, though. You can learn more about what sets cloud storage and cloud backup apart here.

Once you do, read our best free cloud storage article to find a service with a large free plan. If you want the best cloud storage service, though, take a look at our best cloud storage comparison list.

Before we get to the list of the best free online backup services that we chose from our best online backup, let’s define the criteria we used to make it.

Best Free Online Backup 2019

cloudwards rating
$ per month
top features

What Makes the Best Free Online Backup

The basis of this article is “free,” so our first criterion is that. Services that offer more space or referral programs that can increase your backup space get extra points.

Free plans can be limited, so it’s important that you get the necessary backup features. They include file versioning, which helps if you want to retrieve a previous version of a file, backup scheduling, browser access and continuous backup, which is useful because it helps protect your files as they’re created or edited.

A free service should be accompanied with a straightforward user experience. It’s best if you don’t need to call for help to set up your backup plan. Good user experience also saves you time and lets you focus on things besides your backup. To ensure that, the desktop clients should be easy to use and work on most operating systems.

You don’t get a lot of space with free plans, which translates into less uploading, but fast uploads for your backup are still better than slow ones. Initial backups can take a long time, but the block-level copying algorithm will help with subsequent uploads and multi-threaded backup will enable the upload process to use the available bandwidth.

Now that we have our criteria out of the way, let’s start with our top pick: Duplicati with Google Drive.

Best Free Online Backup: Duplicati with Google Drive

The mention of two services in a single place might leave you scratching your head. That’s expected because Duplicati lets you choose your cloud service for file backup. It can backup to 20 cloud storage providers, and Google Drive is among them. Both are free.

It’s best to pair Duplicati with Google Drive because of Google Drive’s massive 15GB free plan and global network of servers. You don’t have to use Google Drive alone, though, because Duplicati can connect with several other cloud storage services that have free subscription plans.

They include Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, Box, MEGA, Jottacloud and Amazon Drive. If you combine all of them you can get 57GB of backup space for free. Managing them together might not be for the faint of heart, but it’s a lot of free backup space.

Box is one of the best enterprise file sync and share providers, and you can find out more about MEGA and Amazon Drive in our MEGA review and Amazon Drive review.

Because Duplicati is free, there’s no support team to help you solve your issues. There are no mobile apps, either. You can also set your own servers as a destination and connect to Duplicati using WebDAV, FTP or its more secure variant, SFTP. If you’re unfamiliar with those protocols, read our FTP and WebDAV explanations.

Versioning policy lets lets you keep a custom number of versions or use smart backup which automatically saves backups from the last seven days, the last four weeks and the last year. Power users can use the command line for Duplicati.

Other Reasons We Like Duplicati with Google Drive

You need to install the Duplicati desktop client, which is available for Windows, macOS and Linux, to use the service, but you’ll use the web client most of the time.

The web client doesn’t overwhelm you with options and it’s easy to use. The backup experience is simple. You only need to follow the steps and choose the options you need to create a backup, just like with a standard installer app.

Duplicati is user-friendly, but it’s still more complicated to use than, say, Backblaze and Carbonite. Both of those services do most of the backup and restore process for you.

Duplicati didn’t slow down transfers much, though. You can see the speed test table in our Duplicati review. Things should move even faster after the initial upload thanks to the use of a block-level file copying algorithm.

Pros:

  • Multiple cloud options
  • Software is free
  • Lots of free storage with various providers

Cons:

  • Weak support
  • Harder for laymen
  • No mobile apps
Starts from $ 500 per month

CloudBerry Backup with Google Drive

Like our top pick, CloudBerry Backup isn’t a standard backup service. Rather, it’s a command center that lets you connect to various cloud providers and use them for your online backup.

We’ve paired CloudBerry Backup with Google Drive because Google Drive provides a 15GB free plan. That’s well below the limit of CloudBerry Backup’s plan, which lets you backup up to 200GB from over 60 providers.

Thanks to that, you can pair CloudBerry Backup with a different or multiple services. Unlike Duplicati, though, CloudBerry Backup also connects to many infrastructure-as-a-service providers, which don’t offer free storage. When you remove them from the equation, CloudBerry Backup works with fewer services that offer free storage than Duplicati.

CloudBerry Backup can backup your computer, but it lets you backup from cloud to cloud, too. Plus, you can backup cloud data to your network-attached storage, local storage, external drive or network drive. If you need the best NAS backup, though, read our best online backup for NAS comparison.

On top of those features, CloudBerry Backup can make a bootable USB drive, automatically delete previous file versions from your storage and restore your files to a new device.

Other Reasons We Like CloudBerry Backup with Google Drive

It’s not easy to set up CloudBerry Backup. Because it doesn’t offer backup space on its own, you have to connect to the partner service you’re using and create a backup plan. That means tinkering with many options. Users who like to do that will love CloudBerry Backup, while others will prefer to avoid it.

The desktop clients are available for Windows, macOS and Linux. If you’re looking for Windows backup, you can compare CloudBerry Backup with other services in our best cloud backups for Windows list. The desktop client has a clear interface, but it feels utilitarian. That’s understandable, though, considering the many options you have at your disposal.

There’s also a web client that you can access using the CloudBerry Backup website, but it only works with Amazon S3. If you’re unfamiliar with that service, read our Amazon S3 review to learn more about it.

We tested CloudBerry Backup with Google Drive because it has a global network of servers, which helped it reach fast speeds on tests in our CloudBerry Backup review.

CloudBerry Backup is second because it’s more difficult to use than Duplicati, it doesn’t connect to as many providers that offer free backup space and it doesn’t encrypt or compress your files on the free plan.

Pros:

  • Lots of features & option settings
  • Server backup
  • Use multiple free storage plans

Cons:

  • No attached storage space
  • No compression/encryption on free plan
  • Complex

BigMIND Home

BigMIND Home, from Zoolz, focuses on backing up your devices and using advanced features, some of which are AI-powered, to help you do everything you need in the cloud. It has a free plan, too.

It provides 5GB of backup space and lets you backup three computers, one external drive, two mobile or tablet devices. It also lets you stream videos in standard definition, but it doesn’t offer technical support.

BigMIND Home can backup files by type and location, as well as backup files to local storage, which means you get the benefit of hybrid backup. Plus, it can protect your smartphone data, making it part of a small number of services that offer that. Read our best online backup for mobile to see the rest of them. Versioning is available, too.

You can also connect BigMIND Home to Instagram, Facebook, Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and Box to backup data you have on them.

It’s a safe bet that you have a lot of photos on them, so the BigMIND Home apps that let you search your photos for text and can recognize faces and things in them will be useful.

Like the best cloud storage services, BigMIND Home lets you share files you have in the cloud. You can also upload files directly to Cloud Drive, a storage space that counts against your backup quota. BigMIND Home has more features and you can read about them in our BigMIND Home review.

Other Reasons We Like BigMIND Home

BigMIND Home is available for Windows, macOS, Android and iOS. If you want an online backup service that supports the penguin, read our best online backup for Linux.

The desktop client is attractive and shows your backup status, when the last backup was, how many files are backed up and how many are pending. You can see that information in a clear manner. It also lets you backup by file type or location.

BigMIND Home uses Amazon’s servers to host your data. Because Amazon has a global network of servers, you have a greater chance of being close to one. That’s going to help your reach faster speeds. That said, if your transfer is still slow, you can enable multi-threaded backup, which lets BigMIND Home use all the network bandwidth available.

A block-level transfer algorithm helps with uploads after the initial one. You can see BigMIND Home’s speed test results in our BigMIND Home review.

Pros:

  • Free plan backs up various devices
  • Multimedia features
  • Social media backup

Cons:

  • HD video only on Family Plus
  • No technical support with free plan
Starts from $ 299 per month for 100 GB
Free plan available

IDrive

IDrive started operating in 1995, and thanks to its rich experience, it sits near the top of our best online backup reviews. IDrive lets you backup an unlimited number of devices, even on the free plan.

Like BigMIND Home, it only offers 5GB of backup space. If you want more you can subscribe to one of IDrive’s two personal backup plans. They offer a lot of storage space for cheap. Plus, you can make use of IDrive’s referral program to make them even cheaper.

IDrive’s backup of unlimited devices includes external hard drive backups. Plus, it has smartphone apps that can backup phone data. It can also backup Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Backup and restore features include advanced scheduling, notification options, disk-image backup and file versioning. The “true archiving” feature keeps your data in the cloud even if you delete if from your computer, which helps you save hard drive space.

Besides cloud backup features, IDrive has features that are more common to cloud storage. They are device synchronization and file sharing. If you turn sync on, IDrive will create a sync folder on your hard drive. Any file that you add to it and all changes will be synced to the cloud and your connected devices. You can share files with different permissions via email.

Other Reasons We Like IDrive

You can’t backup your computer with a single click. Instead, IDrive requires you to choose individual files for backup. You have to do that based on location in your file system, not on type. Plus, you can tweak a lot of settings, which might be overwhelming at first. Still, most people shouldn’t have a problem using IDrive.

The web client is less complex than its desktop counterpart. Its default page shows your backup, but you can also use it to preview your sync folder, connected devices, shares and access the web logs.

The mobile apps work on Android and iOS. They’re intuitive and have a minimal design. You can use them to access your backup and photo timeline. Plus, they can backup your phone data and enable facial recognition to analyze people in your photos.

IDrive is slow on initial uploads, and there’s no option to initiate multi-threaded backup to speed them up. That said, a block-level file copying algorithm is available to speed up the transfer after the initial one. You can read more about IDrive’s features in our IDrive review.

Pros:

  • Unlimited device backup
  • Inexpensive plans
  • Sync capabilities

Cons:

  • Desktop app is complex
  • Slow
  • No multithreaded backup
Starts from $ 434 per month for 2000 GB
Free plan available

Jottacloud

Jottacloud comes from privacy-friendly Norway, and it blurs the line between cloud backup and cloud storage. It’s cheap and has a 5GB free plan. Plus, Jottacloud places no feature restrictions on it.

Jottacloud can backup your computers, NAS devices and external drives. Like the previous two entries, Jottacloud provides device synchronization and file sharing capabilities. Plus, it offers an online archive that you can move files to and free space on your computer. Other common cloud backup features include image backup, scheduling and file versioning.

File sharing lets you create a link to your file. If you want to share photos you can use Jottacloud’s “photos” app to post to Facebook or Twitter, though. The app is useful if you want to upload and manage your photos. It doesn’t compress photos when you upload them and supports many formats, including RAW. You can also stream videos to your devices.

Jottacloud has features that are uncommon to cloud backup, but incremental backup, a staple feature, is missing. It helps speed up transfers and save cloud space by transferring only the changed parts of files selected for backup. There’s no way to backup to a local device, either. If you want to learn more about backup features, read our online backup library.

Other Reasons We Like Jottacloud

Like most services, Jottacloud’s desktop client works on Windows and macOS but not Linux. It isn’t attractive, but it’s simple and clear. That said, it’s cumbersome because you have to pick and choose the files you want to backup by going through your file system or dragging and dropping them. The web client is a different beast because it’s fast and easy to use.

The mobile app is available for Android and iOS. It’s attractive and intuitive. You can use it to automatically backup photos and videos but not your mobile data. That said, Jottacloud’s mobile app lets you sync files to your devices, make cloud files available offline and free space by archiving files in the cloud.

Jottacloud keeps its data centers in Norway so you don’t get the benefit of having a global network of servers at your disposal.

We were relatively close to Norway when we performed the speed tests in our Jottacloud review so it was fast on file upload and slow on download. If you’re not close to Norway and your transfer speed is slow, you can enable multi-threaded backup to speed it up. That can’t be said about block-level copying, though.

Pros:

  • Syncs devices
  • File sharing
  • Great photo backup

Cons:

  • Can’t backup individual files
  • Can’t backup locally
  • No block-level file copying
Starts from $ 660 per month for Unlimited GB
Free plan available Save 17 %

Final Thoughts

Finding free online backup isn’t easy because cloud backup services don’t generally offer free subscription plans. Free trials are more common. That said, there are several options to choose from.

The first two picks are more difficult to use than the last three, but they offer more backup space in return. Duplicati has more free storage services at its disposal, so you can enjoy more backup space with it than you can with CloudBerry Backup. It’s also easier to use.

If you don’t want to tinker with services that don’t provide backup space, choose a service that’s lower on the list.

Did we miss a backup service that has a free plan? Which one do you use? Tell us in the comments below. Thank you for reading.

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