You’ve got your home backup sorted out, but now there’s another computer, or multiple ones, involved. Computers come cheap and you can fill them with meaningful data that you don’t want to lose in the blink of an eye, so you need to know how best to backup multiple drives to the cloud.
You could buy separate online backup subscriptions. Backblaze, at just $5 per computer, is an affordable way to do that, but, for easier management, a single subscription works best. In this guide, we’ll run down the options for best online backup for multiple computers.
Multiple computers mean that multiple hard drives can crash and take your data with them. You might think you’re safe, if you use a SSD. It’s true that their rate of failure is less than one percent, but they are prone to data errors. It’s better to rely on the cloud, as well as local backup. That’s the 3-2-1 rule, anyway. If you prefer to backup NAS, read this article.
First, let’s take a look at what criteria helped us choose our picks from among the best online backups. If you’re looking for storage instead (read here about the difference), check out our cloud storage comparison list to get a sense of what’s on the menu.
Best Online Backup for Multiple Computers 2018
What Makes the Best Online Backup for Multiple Computers
Plans that include multiple computers are a must, with an emphasis on unlimited computers. We’ll see that you get a good amount of backup space for cheap. Backup services have various numbers of plans. The more they have, the better your choice can be. It’s good if the service has a free plan or trial. Family backup plans are ideal.
We’ll keep security in mind as keeping your data safe in the cloud is paramount. Data center security is as important as which encryption the service uses. We like to see zero-knowledge encryption because it means no one, other than you, will be able to look at your data. Two-factor authentication goes without saying.
Using online backup shouldn’t require you to call the resident IT genius. It’s best if the services are easy to use. Backing up by file type and a straightforward and intuitive client are features that help achieve that.
Backups usually need a long time to complete, but having a stable and fast connection makes it less of a pain. Of course, that doesn’t depend on the infrastructure of a service alone, but on how close you are to its servers, as well.
Best Online Backup for Multiple Computers: IDrive
IDrive makes its home in San Fernando Valley. The company started operating in 1995, and its experience shows. It’s earned a place on our best online backup comparison list.
Unlimited device backup is a hallmark of IDrive subscriptions, including both computers and external hard drives (if your focus is on drives, check our best online backup for external HDs article). Two plans fit backup for families: 2TB and 5TB personal plans. The 2TB plan will set you back just over $50 a year (no monthly subscription), while the 5TB plan will cost around $75.
In addition, you get 2TB or 5TB (depending on the plan) of sync space, which amounts to 4TB or 10TB of actual space. If you decide to pay for two years in advance, you’ll get an additional discount. To test the service, IDrive offers a free plan with 5GB of backup space.
IDrive encrypts your data using an AES 256-bit algorithm in transit and at rest. If you want private encryption, you need to enable it prior to making your first backup. Otherwise, IDrive will keep the key to decrypt your data.
It’s surprising that IDrive doesn’t offer two-factor authentication in addition to these fine security features. Since it’s not available to protect you if someone steals your password, you need to make sure your password is strong.
IDrive’s data centers reside in the U.S. They can withstand disasters such as earthquakes, floods and fires. Alarms, surveillance and motion sensors protect your data against crews like Ocean’s 11.
Since IDrive doesn’t offer unlimited backup, it’s more complicated to work with. You’ll have to pick and choose which files you want to backup based on location, because you won’t be able to backup by file type. Plus, IDrive has lots of settings options, so you’ll have to get used to that. All things considered, it shouldn’t prove a big headache for most people.
Other Reasons We Like IDrive
IDrive can’t brag about its speed. Initial uploads take a while, but subsequent ones are much faster, thanks to block-level backup. In addition, there’s a free courier service that can help called IDrive Express. You can get your downloads using it, too.
You get to backup unlimited computers for cheap using IDrive. It provides you with good security and private encryption. Two-factor authentication is missing and the user experience could be easier, but it still doesn’t remove much from the overall quality of the service. If you want to know more about IDrive’s features, read our IDrive review.
- Unlimited device backup
- Inexpensive plans
- Private encryption
- No backup by file type
- Not easy to use
- Not multithreaded backup
If you want your files to be safe and private, while being able to backup unlimited computers, SpiderOak ONE is the service you need. It’s not all good news, though, as the service is pricey.
The first plan offers just 150GB for $5 a month, and the next offers 400GB for $9 a month. Those two don’t offer much value, but the 2TB plan for $12 a month ($129 a year) is a solid deal. You can test the service using a 21-day free trial before you decide to subscribe.
Security is the most important feature for SpiderOak ONE. Private encryption is the default. The level of encryption is AES 256-bit and files are encrypted in transit using SSL. Two-factor authentication is available to help if hackers steal your password, though at the moment only for legacy customers (SpiderOak is doing some upgrading, apparently).
SpiderOak doesn’t keep metadata of your files in a central database. Instead, a local database on your computer takes care of it.
Strong security protects your files, but SpiderOak ONE doesn’t take a lax approach to its data centers. They are able to withstand virtual and physical attacks. Natural disasters are not a problem, either.
Most desktop clients feel dated and clunky because they focus on utility, and that goes for SpiderOak, too. The web interface is similar to the desktop client. You can’t alter your backup plan remotely with it, and you won’t be able to see your account activity since there’s no home tab. The smartphone app is limited in functionality, as well, but easy to use.
Other Reasons We Like SpiderOak ONE
SpiderOak has a good infrastructure, which helps it achieve okay speeds — about 1GB per hour, according to customers. Considering other services, that’s fine, and our tests confirmed the claim.
Initial backup will take several days, at least. Block-level backup will help after that, and everything should run smoother. Read more about the service in our SpiderOak ONE review.
- Backup unlimited computers
- Private encryption
- Good backup speed
- No courier service
Zoolz is a U.K.-based company that started in 2010. It used to only do cold storage (based on Amazon Glacier), but now it does hot storage, too. You can use Zoolz Home to backup several computers.
The Family plan provides 1TB of backup space for five users and five computers. It’ll cost you $39.95 per year. The Heavy plan enables you to backup the same number of computers for the same number of users, but gives you 4TB of backup space. You’ll need to pay $99.95 a year to use that plan.
Zoolz is a zero-knowledge service, so you can be sure no one but you will read your files due to private encryption. The level of encryption is AES-256, which is in line with other quality services. The encryption won’t help you against stolen passwords, but two-factor authentication, which Zoolz provides, will.
The Zoolz desktop client, called Zoolz Intelligent, is available for Windows and Mac. The backup process is straightforward, for the most part. You’ll have to “smart select” or manually select content to backup and that makes it more complicated than services like Carbonite or CrashPlan.
There’s a powerful web client that helps you manage your account. The homepage will show information about active users and servers, how much hot and cold storage you’ve used and other general stats.
You can access your backup on your phone by using the app for Android or iOS. The app is attractive and versatile. It will allow you to backup files (documents, videos, contacts and so on) from your phone.
Other Reasons We Like Zoolz Home
The service integrates with Amazon S3 and that helps it achieve good speeds. It has servers in the U.S., U.K. and Australia. File backup uses block-level transfer algorithms. To see more details about how the service performs, read the Zoolz Home review.
- Zero-knowledge service
- Hot & cold storage available
- Not intuitive
- Collects file metadata
- Limited backup capabilities
Acronis True Image 2018 is the latest release from Acronis which has been in business since 2003. Such a long track record makes for good experience and it shows in its product.
You can purchase a lifetime plan, but it has several caveats so we recommend that you get a monthly plan. Advanced and Premium subscriptions limit the number of computers you can backup to five.
Advanced costs $4.16 per month (or $49.99 a year) for 250GB. Premium will cost you $8.33 a month ($99.99 a year) for 1TB. If you pay to increase the storage size, you’ll get it at a reduced price. That’s also true for the number of computers (up to five).
Acronis uses AES 256-bit level of encryption. TLS/SSL protects your data in transfer. There’s also a novel feature from Acronis called Acronis Active Protection, which helps you against ransomware attacks. If it fails, you can rely on versioning to retrieve your files. There’s no two-factor authentication.
You can encrypt files before sending them to Acronis’s servers. The process requires you to enter the password, which only you know. The files will remain encrypted in the cloud until you decrypt them. That makes Acronis True Image zero-knowledge.
Acronis stores data on multiple servers in its data centers. They use biometric scanning, key cards, patrols and monitoring to ensure the safety of your files. Natural disasters and fires are things you don’t have to worry about, as the infrastructure is resistant to them.
The desktop client is easy to navigate but the text should be bigger. Acronis gives you the option to backup everything, rather than select specific files. This takes up more space, but it makes creating a backup plan easier. If you choose to do it that way, you can exclude files that you don’t want to backup. Notifications are useful and will keep you updated.
You can use the online dashboard to execute manual backups and recover files. That makes it useful for remote management. The online interface is clear and won’t confuse you.
Other Reasons We Like Acronis True Image 2018Acronis is fast for initial backups, unlike most services. That’s one of the reasons to turn a blind eye to its high cost. It only took 15 minutes to backup a 1GB folder.
If you need to limit the bandwidth there’s a throttle option or you can switch between “optimal” and “maximum” speed. Our tests used the optimal one, but maximum will, presumably, achieve greater speeds. If you want to see the speed table and other features, be sure to read our Acronis True Image 2018 review.
- Fast backup
- Ransomware scanning
- No-two factor authentication
ElephantDrive is a backup, sync and file-sharing platform that provides good functionality. It started offering cloud backup in 2007.
Using the free plan you can backup 2GB of data on up to three devices. It’s not much, but it will allow you to test the service. For $9.95 a month you can raise the number of devices to 10 and the amount of backup space to 1TB. If you need more, you can always pony up for the Business plan, which provides you 2.5TB for 25 devices. It’ll cost you $39.95 a month.
ElepthanDrive encrypts your files using AES-256 bit encryption before they leave your device. The 128-bit SSL protects them during transfer. By default, ElephantDrive retains the key to decrypt your files. If you want zero-knowledge encryption, you can set your own private key. You can even opt-out of encryption to speed up backups. Of course, we don’t recommend that.
It’s easy to backup files using ElephantDrive, as you can just drag and drop your files into the folder that it creates, then wait for the upload to finish. What’s strange is you can backup folders using the desktop client, but you can’t restore them. You’ll have to use the web interface.
The web interface is clean. It’s easy to find the typical settings, but there are complex options that will satisfy you if you’re a techie. The service is convenient for those who want to set up a backup and forget it. Restoring is confusing, as you have to use the “downloading” option because the “restore” option doesn’t work.
The mobile app will backup photos and contacts from your phone, but that’s all. Besides that, you can access the photos, audio and video files you’ve stored online.
Other Reasons We Like ElephantDrive
ElephantDrive is one of the fastest backup services. What it lacks, though, is a way to monitor your transfer. If there are issues with uploading, you won’t be able to see what’s going on. There is a way to limit the bandwidth ElephantDrive uses, if the backup interferes with system resources.
We like that the service provides fast speeds, along with a straightforward backup process, but the value could be better. The questionable policy and bugs make it even less appealing. If you want to know more about ElephantDrive (especially its privacy quirks and bugs), read our ElephantDrive review.
- Fast backup speeds
- Zero-knowledge service
- 2GB file-size limit
- Restore feature is buggy
- Can’t restore from desktop client
Online backup for multiple computers is easy to come by. Finding good backup is not. The first obstacle is the price, because you’re backing up multiple devices. Our top pick, IDrive, gives you good value, along with good security, private encryption and the option to backup unlimited devices. If you want something else, look to other services on the list.
Do you agree with our choices? Do you use something else to backup your home computers? Something much better? Let us know in the comments below. Thank you for reading.