Ransomware attacks rank as one of the most prolific online threats today. Whether you’re a business user trying to protect your customers or an at-home consumer worried about stolen family photos, finding tools that provide protection against ransomware needs to be a priority. One such tool is online backup, which replicates your computer hard drive in the cloud.
Most online backup services provide some measure of ransomware protection, thanks to versioning capabilities that let you roll back corrupted files to clean copies. A few online backup providers go further, offering ransomware detection. To help you sort through the options, in this guide, we’ll examine the best online backup services for ransomware protection.
We’ll talk about the details below, in addition to reviewing three CloudBerry Backup alternatives that are worth a look. To learn more about backup options for personal use, have a look at our review of the best online backup services. If you’re a business user, check out our best online backup for business roundup.
Best Online Backup with Ransomware Protection 2019
How Ransomware Works
Before we get started, a ransomware definition will help set the stage. Ransomware is a type of malware that infiltrates computer systems and scrambles computer files using strong encryption. Those behind the attack then demand money in exchange for providing encryption keys to unlock those files.
Ransomware is a simple attack to execute, making it popular among digital hoodlums. Like other malware, attacks often rely on phishing emails that contain malicious attachments. Be on the lookout for suspicious spam emails and never download files from email addresses you don’t recognize.
Once infected, ransomware moves fast. While most attacks don’t encrypt all file types, don’t make the mistake of thinking you only need to protect Microsoft Office, Adobe and image files. Different variations of ransomware (e.g., CryptoLocker, WannaCry, Petya and TeslaCrypt) target different extensions, but those target lists are long.
A Few Ransomware Statistics
The average ransom demand has soared to over $1,000. Payment is often demanded in cryptocurrency to prevent law enforcement from tracking the perpetrators. Because the encryption protocols used are impossible to crack without a few billion years to spare, many who haven’t taken appropriate precautions such as backing up their files end up paying.
That’s especially true of businesses. An IBM study found that over 70 percent of U.S. businesses end up paying hackers, and over half have admitted to paying over $10,000.
It’s no surprise ransomware has become a billion-dollar industry. For those who feel like fighting back, the good news is that it’s easy to do. There are many ransomware detection tools, such as Trend Micro RansomBuster and BitDefender Anti-Ransomware.
Alternatively, you can take the approach suggested in this article and backup your files to the cloud.
Picking the Best Online Backup Services for Ransomware Protection
In assembling our selections for the online backup software that best protects against ransomware, we looked for a few critical features. At the top of our list was versioning, a feature used to revert files to previous incarnations.
Commonly used to undo accidental changes, versioning can also undo file corruptions. That’s useful for corruptions caused by failing hard drives, but also for ransomware. After all, file encryption is just corruption done on purpose.
By rolling back your file, you’ll undo the encryption and save yourself from having to pay. Of course, you’ll want to make sure to remove the offending software first.
We looked for backup providers that keep multiple file versions (ideally, unlimited), and those that maintain that digital history for a while (ideally, indefinitely). Continuous backup protection is important, too, since, if you’re only running backups at night, you might lose the day’s work by reverting back.
A few backup solutions try to detect ransomware. This is often accomplished by scanning backups for unusual patterns, such as widespread encryption across multiple files. If the software’s algorithms detect something that looks like ransomware, it’ll alert you to what’s going on for further investigation.
In addition to ransomware protection, we took into account a few more factors such as security features, ease of use and cost. We’ll mention any feature highlights we think you’ll like as we run through our picks, but be sure to read the individual reviews to get the full scoop.
Best Online Backup with Ransomware Protection: CloudBerry Backup
Our top pick is our favorite backup tool for businesses and part of that is its strong approach to security. CloudBerry Lab added a ransomware protection feature in version 5.8 of the software, including for Windows Desktop and Windows Server licenses.
The feature prevents backed up files from being overwritten by those encrypted by malware.
Algorithms first analyze the bit structure of each file initially backed up, then compare that structure byte-by-byte to subsequent file backups to identify newly encrypted files.
If it detects encryption, CloudBerry Backup will still complete the upload, but it will also preserve your original backup, regardless of whether you’ve set up versioning.
As for versioning, CloudBerry lets you retain as many file copies as desired. We recommend setting this to, at least, 10 versions, since ransomware could alter files multiple times.
The client can be configured to retain versions indefinitely or delete them after a certain period of time. While ransomware tends to get noticed quickly, you should set your retention period for, at least, three months, though longer is better.
Other Reasons We Like CloudBerry Backup
The more versions you keep, the more storage space you’ll consume. CloudBerry Backup doesn’t provide storage, but lets you pair the client with over 50 cloud services. Rather than a hindrance, that flexibility is a benefit, providing choice and scalability you won’t find with other backup tools.
Possible CloudBerry Backup connections include the best cloud IaaS providers. Services of note are Amazon S3, Backblaze B2, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure. You can backup to a handful of traditional cloud storage providers, such as Dropbox and Google Drive, as well.
When it comes to a feature set, no tool exceeds CloudBerry Backup. Notable capabilities include block-level backup to speed things up and private, end-to-end encryption to protect your files against man-in-the-middle attacks and data breaches.
- Ransomware scanning
- Customizable versioning
- Choose your own cloud storage
- Takes time to setup
Acronis develops two backup services: Acronis True Image and Acronis Backup. Both protect against ransomware with a built-in feature called Acronis Active Protection. There’s also a free, standalone Active Protection client.
We’re going to focus on True Image, because it’s cheaper than Acronis Backup. However, if you’re a business user, you should read our Acronis Backup review to see if it fits your needs better.
Active Protection is AI-based, learning to detect attacks better as it gathers more data. It observes system processes in real-time to find ransomware attacks by looking for suspicious behaviors. It then blocks processes and notifies users when that happens. The tool facilitates instant recovery of damaged files, as well.
Whitelist and blacklist capabilities reduce false positives, which further helps the software learn.
True Image provides what it calls nonstop backup, which creates backup versions based on time. That, along with continuous backup, will keep your files safe from ransomware.
Other Reasons We Like Acronis True Image
Acronis True Image has a speed advantage over many affordable online backup services, such as Carbonite and IDrive, because, unlike those services, it’s backed by a global data center network to help limit congestion and server bottlenecks.
That’s not to say that True Image is pricey. It costs $99 a year for 1TB of storage, and you get discounts for multiple computers. The software can be used to backup mobile devices, too, which are an increasingly common target for ransomware attacks.
We detail the subscription options in full in our Acronis True Image review. The tool supports block-level backup and private encryption, though misses by not offering two-factor authentication.
- Ransomware scanning
- Customizable versioning
- No two-factor authentication
- No Linux support
IDrive doesn’t provide ransomware scanning to pre-emptively stop attacks. However, it is good at dealing with them once they’ve occurred. Key to its approach is a feature called IDrive Snapshots, which the company released to combat the growing threat of ransomware.
IDrive Snapshots uses point-in-time recovery to let you roll back your file system to before the attack occurred.
One of the nice things about IDrive Snapshots is that it doesn’t consume your IDrive storage. Then again, IDrive is generous on that front, providing 2TB of backup for just over $50 a year to IDrive Personal subscribers.
IDrive provides backup for unlimited devices, including smartphones, as you can read about in our IDrive review. IDrive Snapshots isn’t available for Android or iOS, but you can still take comfort in the fact that 10 file versions are kept, in case of a mobile ransomware attack.
Other Reasons We Like IDrive
In addition to backup space, IDrive provides an identical amount of file sync space. That means, if you sign up for a 2TB IDrive account, you’re really getting 2TB of online backup and 2TB of cloud storage. IDrive is one of the few cloud SaaS providers to offer backup and storage (what’s the difference?).
IDrive supports social media backup, private encryption and comes with 24/7 live chat support. It’s a good choice for network-attached storage backup, too. On paper, IDrive is nearly perfect and as affordable as any service.
The catch is that IDrive can run slow, thanks to limited server infrastructure. To help, a free courier backup and recovery service is offered, but you’d be wise to sign up for a free 5GB plan first to make sure its speeds don’t leave you regretting the decision to subscribe.
- IDrive Snapshot
- Unlimited devices
- Backup & storage
- No ransomware scanning
- No two-factor authentication
SpiderOak is another online backup service with point-in-time recovery, making it a good choice for ransomware protection. If you have an idea of when the attack started, after you’ve removed the malware, just choose a time before the attack to quickly restore a large number of files.
The downside is that you have to execute SpiderOak point-in-time recovery from the desktop command-line. It’s not yet available through the SpiderOak interface. Execution isn’t difficult, though, and you can find step-by-step instructions on the SpiderOak support site
For a small number of files, you can use version recovery, which is available through the client “manager” tab. SpiderOak ONE provides deleted-file recovery, too, which is important, since ransomware sometimes deletes files.
An advantage over IDrive is that SpiderOak keeps unlimited historical copies of your files and keeps deleted files until you remove them from the trash bin. Just click on the file you want to recover and use the history pane on the right to select a clean copy.
We walk through the backup and recovery process in more detail in our full SpiderOak review.
Other Reasons We LIke SpiderOak
SpiderOak is a service that likes to trumpet its focus on security, so it’s surprising ransomware scanning isn’t included. More surprising is that SpiderOak doesn’t offer two-factor authentication to new customers, though there’s been some indication that feature will return once the company finishes a system overhaul (that’s been the case for a while).
You get private, end-to-end encryption with SpiderOak. The service also offers sync and sharing for files that are backed up, providing functionality that’s unusual among backup services, excluding IDrive.
Sharing makes use of what the company calls “ShareRooms.” They are convenient, but shared files get converted to plain text while at-rest in the SpiderOak cloud, losing their encryption.
You can try the service out for 21 days, free of charge. After that, a 2TB backup plan can be had for $12 per month, or you can go with 150GB or 400GB of backup for less money.
- Point-in-time recovery
- Unlimited file versions
- Sync & share
- No ransomware scanning
- No two-factor authentication
- File shares lose encryption
Honorable Mention: Jungle Disk Cybersecurity Complete
Jungle Disk provides backup and storage plans. We’ve looked at its workbook and server backup clients (read our Jungle Disk review), but a more secure line of subscriptions called Jungle Disk Cybersecurity is better for businesses in need of data protection.
The most expensive of these subscriptions, called Cybersecurity Complete, provides ransomware protection, virus detection, botnet defense and denial-of-service defense.
There’s a base cost of $16 per user for Cybersecurity Complete and that only gets you 10GB of storage. Additional storage costs 15 cents per gigabyte. The service is designed for two to 250 users, making it better for small or medium businesses than personal backup.
By default, Jungle Disk stores 10 versions of each file for 60 days, but you can customize that for better protection.
Honorable Mention: CrashPlan
CrashPlan doesn’t have ransomware scanning features and it doesn’t offer point-in-time recovery. We still like it for ransomware because it lets you configure your own versioning plan and provides unlimited backup, so you don’t have to worry about a long file history eating up your backup space.
It’s a great deal, too. One computer costs $10 a month for unlimited backup. While CrashPlan markets itself to small businesses, there’s no reason it can’t be used for home backup.
No one should be doling out cash to hackers holding files hostage. Any online backup service with versioning features and continuous backup should prevent that from happening. Since all of the best online backup providers include those two features, the options for ransomware protection are much more than the services we’ve listed above.
CloudBerry Backup stands out, thanks to its ransomware scanning feature and customizable retention policies. To a lesser extent, so does Acronis True Image. IDrive and SpiderOak, meanwhile, provide point-in-time recovery to restore many files at once after you’ve cleared your computer of malware.
For more help, we have a ransomware protection guide. We’re happy to take questions below, and always welcome suggestions for services we might have overlooked in the fight against file hostage crises. Stay safe, and thanks for reading!