Unlimited cloud backup sounds good, but many services claim to offer unlimited backup, then saddle you with restrictions. We’ve made sure to find a couple, at least, that don’t restrict the amount of space you use to backup or throttle your bandwidth. Here, we’ll run down the best unlimited online backup services.
Your music, financial reports, HD movies and photos all rest on your hard drive. Drives are getting bigger than ever. Average laptop discs have more than 250GB, while those in desktop computers can range in the terabytes, but that’s not unlimited storage capacity. It’ll fill up sooner than later.
Discs can also break or crash and your data will be lost. You’ll then be forced to use data recovery software. It might retrieve your data, but it’s not a sure shot. Maybe, you use an SSD. Sure, they have a rate of failure below 1 percent, but they experience more data errors.
It’s better to backup your data in multiple places. That’s what the “3-2-1 rule” recommends. One of those places should be the cloud. If you’re looking for unlimited storage (educate yourself on the difference here), read our best unlimited storage providers. Otherwise, let’s go through the criteria we’ve used to make our picks for the best online backup services.
Best Unlimited Online Backup 2018
What Makes the Best Unlimited Online Backup
We’ll make sure it’s truly unlimited backup, with no hidden restrictions, such as file size, throttling, caps and such.
Value will be our top concern, as we don’t want to pay an unlimited amount of money for unlimited online backup. We’ll see how many plans the services offer and what those plans provide for the price. Providing a free plan or trial is always nice. If you’re looking for free backup, read our best free cloud backup piece.
User experience is critical, as you’re going to backup a lot of data. It’s better if it’s straightforward and intuitive, rather than bothersome. That’s most evident in how the client (desktop and web) behaves and whether it offers backup by file type.
Once your data is in the cloud, security needs to be tight. You don’t want your data in the clutches of hackers. On top of that, private encryption is always welcome, since it’ll keep your data visible only to you. We feel the same way about two-factor authentication and secure data centers.
Backup takes a long time and, since you require unlimited backup, you’ll need all the speed you can get. Block-level backup is key, along with good infrastructure. Note that speed also depends on how close you are to the service’s servers.
Best Unlimited Online Backup: Backblaze
Backblaze launched in 2007 and it’s one of the most popular services today. With such a long history, it’s no surprise that it’s near the top of our best online backup list.
Backblaze places no file restrictions on your unlimited backup. You can backup files of any size without manual selection. The pricing scheme is simple: there’s only one plan. It costs $5 a month or $50 a year. The monthly plan is convenient, considering that most other backup services don’t offer it.
If you decide to use Backblaze for the long-term, you can opt to pay for a year or two in advance, which will give you a $10 or $25 discount.
Like the pricing plan, Backblaze’s user experience is simple and easy. There’s no need to manage how much or what you’re backing up, because Backblaze does it for you (excluding system and temporary files). You don’t even have to create a backup plan, everything is automated.
The Backblaze application features a minimal design, which goes well with its good ease of use. The web interface won’t give you issues, either. Its navigation menu is friendly. The “overview” tab will let you check your account status and “view/restore” tab will let you access files.
Backblaze has a lot of security features that we hope to see in a backup service, including private encryption. If you disable it, Backblaze will keep your encryption key. Otherwise, you retain the key. Still, you will have to send your passphrase to Backblaze for it to recover your files. The company claims that it deletes the record of it afterward.
To prevent hackers from stealing your password (on account of it being weak), you can enable two-factor authentication. You can also set an option to require a security code whenever you log in.
In the cloud, Backblaze encrypts your files using AES 128-bit. No one has cracked that as far as we know, but we like its heavier version, AES 256-bit, more. SSL will protect your files in-transit.
Backblaze will keep multiple copies of your files on multiple servers in data centers to achieve redundancy by using a RAID setup. Data centers can withstand natural disasters, fires and physical intruders.
Other Reasons We Like Backblaze
All initial backups need a long time to complete, but some services manage it better than others. Backblaze doesn’t limit your upload and download speed. Plus, you can increase the number of backup threads you have running to achieve greater speeds. The only factors remaining should be how far you are from the servers in California, encryption and file compression.
After your initial backup finishes, backups will be processed in increments. If you change part of the file, block-level backup will only transfer that part of it.
Backblaze features cheap unlimited backups, gives you the option to backup unlimited external drives, has good security, simple and intuitive user experience and fast backup. That’s why we place it on the top of the list. To learn more, read our Backblaze review.
- Unlimited backup
- Low cost
- No bandwidth throttling
- Private encryption not end-to-end
- No mobile backup
CrashPlan surprised users and the online backup world when it withdrew from the field of consumer backups in August. Still, its business plan is a sound investment, if you need unlimited backup.
You’ll have to pay $10 for each computer you backup. CrashPlan for Small Business allows you to backup unlimited external drives, as well. Unlike IDrive, CrashPlan is a monthly subscription, so you can cancel anytime. It’s twice the cost of Backblaze, but considering other services, it’s still a good deal. If you’d like an in-depth comparison, refer to CrashPlan vs Backblaze.
The desktop client is easy to install and only takes a couple of minutes. It’s not hard to use, but backup operation could be simpler. It doesn’t backup based on file type, you’ll have to do it manually, which means you’ll have to tag folders and files you want to backup. The client is intuitive and easy to navigate.
It’s complemented well by the web interface which allows you to check user statistics and monitor file restoration from the dashboard. Views show users, devices and give you the option to create reports. The mobile app used to let you access your files from anywhere, but CrashPlan discontinued it.
AES 256-bit encrypts your files before they leave your computer. While they are in transit, AES 128-bit protects them. By default, CrashPlan will retain your encryption key. That way, if you forget your password, CrashPlan will be able to restore it. It also means that some employee who’s up to no good could read your data. You can enable private encryption to avoid that.
Whatever you decide, be sure to make a strong password, since CrashPlan doesn’t offer two-factor authentication.
Data center security is strong, as CrashPlan maintains 24/7 surveillance and other measures that guard against intrusion. They are also designed to resist power failure, fires and natural disasters.
Other Reasons We Like CrashPlan
It’s hard to like CrashPlan’s speed, as it isn’t fast. You could improve it by disabling processes that do compression, encryption and deduplication. We don’t recommend it, though. If backing up is taking too much of your system resources, you can throttle it and set the client to remove the limit once you’re away.
Speed notwithstanding, CrashPlan offers unlimited backup for a solid price, great security and private encryption. We place it behind Backblaze, as it’s more complex to use and doesn’t achieve similar speeds. To learn more about the service, read our CrashPlan review.
- Unlimited backup
- Backup external drives
- Retains deleted files
- Doesn’t backup by file type
- No two-factor authentication
Carbonite targets home users and small businesses. It’s been in business since 2005, making it one of the oldest services.
Unlike other services, it offers three unlimited annual plans: Basic, Plus and Prime. Basic will cost you $71.99. Plus adds external drive backup and automatic video backup for $111.99. Prime costs $149.99 and brings courier recovery service to the table. If you decide to purchase two years in advance, you’ll get a 5 percent discount. For three years, you’ll get 10 percent.
Note that Carbonite Safe plans don’t backup files that are 4GB or larger by default. You’ll have to tag them for backup manually.
The Carbonite desktop client is easy to install. After that, there’s only one step when initiating backup, since most of the process works automatically (there’s a list of files and extensions that Carbonite excludes on its website). Carbonite will color code your files (if you enable the feature), so you can see their status more easily during backup.
The Carbonite mobile app, available for Android and iOS, will let you do the same. The interface is minimal, so it’s not cluttered and disorganized. In addition to accessing stored files, you can use the app to automatically backup any photos stored on your phone. Having the option to backup other files would be nice, but unlimited space for your shots is still good.
Other Reasons We Like Carbonite
The backup process is much slower than the competitors (read our comparison to CrashPlan for more). Backblaze and IDrive also leave it in the dust. Still, after the initial transfer, block-level backup will speed up the process. If you want to know more about its speed and other features, read our Carbonite review.
- Unlimited backup
- Backup by file type
- Automatic photo backup
- No monthly subscriptions
Livedrive has gone through many transformations since it started in 2008, but the one that brought the biggest change in quality happened after the service moved to the U.K.
The Backup plan offers unlimited storage for one computer at the price of $8 a month ($80 a year). It excludes other storage media such as USB, CD or DVD. The Pro Suite plan will give you 5TB of sync storage across multiple devices, plus unlimited backup space for up to five computers. It costs $25 a month ($250 a year).
The web interface is run-of-the-mill, because its close to the cloud storage standard. One outstanding thing is that it calls its folders “briefcases,” which you’ll use to upload your files.
The desktop experience wasn’t as smooth, because the client tried to download prerequisite libraries on its own and failed. The Pro Suite is the only plan that offers everything in the desktop package, but you can enhance the basic package with paid add-ons. The interface is attractive and provides easy access via the menu bar.
Other Reasons We Like Livedrive
We pretty much said it all above. Be sure to sign up for a free 14-day trial before buying.
- Unlimited backup space offered
- Complex cancellation process
- Servers in the U.K.
The Unlimited plan will give you, well, unlimited storage for $10 a month ($99 a year). The plan will also provide you with device synchronization (both Backblaze and CrashPlan lack it). There’s a free plan that gives you 5GB of storage space. It’s not much, but enough to see how the service performs.
Jottacloud is easy to use. When you sign up, you get a free subscription automatically, which you can upgrade later. You’ll set a backup plan using the desktop app. The web interface will list your files, but you will not be able to upload files using it. Restoring files is flexible, as you can do it using both apps.
There’s also a mobile app for iOS and Android. It features the same options as the web interface. There’s not much to do with it, but mainstream users will appreciate the lack of complexity with Jottacloud’s apps.
While your content is at rest on Jottacloud’s servers, the service protects them using AES 256-bit encryption. While in-transit, SSL does the job. Jottacloud retains your key, so the service is not zero-knowledge. It does have two-factor authentication, though.
Other Reasons We Like Jottacloud
Jottacloud is not the fastest gun in the west. It took about 10 minutes more than other services to backup a gigabyte of content. You can control bandwidth usage during upload and download, if you need to preserve resources. The bandwidth is set to unlimited by default, but you can throttle it back as far as 65 Kbit/s.
A free 5GB plan is available. We recommend using it to make sure Jottacloud passes your own sniff test before committing.
- Unlimited backup
- Syncs devices
- Backs up rare file types
- Not zero-knowledge
- Terrible customer support
- No incremental backup
While there are five services listed, we can only stand behind the first three as great options for your unlimited backup. Backblaze and CrashPlan, especially, are worth a long look. Backblaze has a 15-day trial you can use to try it out, while CrashPlan gives you a 30 days.
Considering you’ll be entrusting a lot of your data to a service, choosing the right one is paramount. Not to mention that you’ll have good user experience and security, while not emptying your wallet.
What do you think about our choices for unlimited cloud backup? Have you tried any of these services? What are your thoughts? Share your knowledge in the comments below. Thank you for reading.