Could your business cope with a data disaster?
Note: Our best online backup services for business round-up has been fully updated. This feature was first published in November 2013.
If running regular backups is important for home users, it’s essential in business: losing even a small fraction of your most important data, for a brief period of time, could still be a real disaster.
You could try to protect yourself by copying files to local drives, but that takes time and effort. It also leaves you vulnerable to fire, theft and hardware failure, which is why automatically uploading your files to a cloud backup service is often a better idea.
Choosing the right backup solution can seem tricky, as there’s a lot to consider. How much storage space do you really need, for instance? Must the service support versioning (where multiple versions of documents are kept)? How should this be managed?
Security is important, too. What sort of encryption options do you get? How is access to your data managed? What options are there for managing your users, seeing what they’re doing, making sure they’re complying with your policies and procedures?
You’re probably not going to get by with a free Dropbox account, but there are plenty of business providers ready to deliver the extras you and your company need. Here, in alphabetical order, are eight of the best.
1. Backblaze Business
Price: $50 (£40, AU$65) per computer per year
Backblaze has been delivering easy, low-cost backup services to consumers for years, so it’s no surprise that its business products have the same focus on simplicity and value.
There are no limits on capacity, for instance, or bandwidth. There’s no need to browse multiple service levels and try to figure out what’s right for you. Backblaze Business is just a single plan which offers unlimited backup space for one computer, at a flat rate of $50 (£40, AU$65) per computer per year.
The backup process is just as straightforward, with the program initially backing up all your data – which can even be on external disks and USB keys – and then backing up individual files as they change. Your data is then accessible online via a web interface and mobile app.
Bonus features include versioning, where file changes are kept for four weeks. An anti-theft feature records the IP address of your computer when it connects, and backup data can be sent on a flash drive or USB hard drive for speedy restores, anywhere in the world. Send the drive back within 30 days and they’ll refund the price in full.
The service now includes some handy central management tools. Admins can assign users to separate groups for custom billing, view details about their backup status and settings, and receive alerts on problems.
There’s even built-in support for BackBlaze’s B2 cloud storage, an Amazon S3-like service which backs up servers and NAS for a flat $5 (£4, AU$6.50) per terabyte per month.
In our experience BackBlaze only delivers mid-range backup performance, but that’s fine for most purposes, and we think the service delivers in terms of features and value.
2. Carbonite Computer Backup Core
Price: 250GB for $270 (£215, AU$350) per year
Unlike most backup products, Carbonite Computer Backup Core is licenced to run on as many computers, external hard drives and NAS drives as you need. Sounds good, and although the base price is higher than some – along with the $99 (£80, AU$129) per year per 100GB of extra storage – it’s in line with other business backup companies.
However, the service does deliver plenty for your money. Carbonite can manage just about every aspect of your backups, keeping training and other hassles to a minimum. Even the initial backup is largely automatic, and incremental backups then upload changed files only.
Encryption is vital in keeping data safe once it has left your system, and Carbonite uses multiple technologies, including TLS during transfer and 128-bit Blowfish when stored.
All your files are visible from a web interface, iOS and Android apps, and there are various ways to restore them: individually, or all, and everything in-between, along with deleted files or previous versions (for up to a month), or everything that’s changed after a point in time (handy if you’ve been hit by ransomware).
If your business grows and you need more, there’s an Ultimate plan you can upgrade to which costs $1,000 (£800, AU$1,300) annually and gets you 500GB, unlimited server image backups with bare metal restore.
Put it all together and Carbonite Computer Backup Core is a quality package, although as mentioned, there are cheaper services around.
3. CrashPlan Pro
Price: $120 (£96, AU$156) per computer per year
Some business backup providers try to compete on functionality, others on price, but CrashPlan Pro aims to do both. The service combines a low price with a lengthy list of features and controls, including some that are rarely found elsewhere.
The package works on Linux, as well as PCs and Macs, for instance. There’s unlimited storage space, including unlimited versioning, and it’s easy to find documents by date, time or version (such a useful feature that it could be a reason for choosing this product in itself).
The service is hugely customisable. You can have continuous or scheduled backups. Online destinations, local, or both. And it’s possible to use your preferred encryption or compression settings, retention policies and more.
Some genuinely intelligent features help to enhance reliability. The package can watch for new documents in your chosen folders, for instance, ensuring files are protected as soon as possible.
All this can be managed from a powerful web console. You’re able to monitor backup progress and settings, configure clients, enforce policies and more, although notably this is desktop-only – the console doesn’t support mobile browsers.
There might be cheaper packages than CrashPlan Pro around, but on an overall level, they don’t get close to its power and functionality. If you’re a desktop user and need anything more than the backup basics, CrashPlan is definitely one for your shortlist.
4. IDrive Business
Price: 250GB for US$100 (£80, AU$130) per year (25% discount on year one)
IDrive Business is a versatile cloud backup service which does its best to cater for just about every possible need.
You’re covered on PCs running anything from Windows 2000 up. There’s Mac support, Linux backup scripts, iOS, Android and Windows mobile clients, and backup support for Windows Server, Microsoft SQL, Exchange, SharePoint and Oracle.
The baseline 250GB storage may not be enough for everyone, but hybrid backup support – the ability to save some files locally – allows you to be more selective about which files head for the cloud, and which stay nearby.
Once your data is online it can be accessed via a web interface, synced with computers or mobiles, and there’s even a mechanism for sharing files via email, Facebook and Twitter.
IDrive Express is a feature which enables quickly backing up or restoring your system via a physically shipped drive. Unusually, the Business plan allows three free backups per year.
Despite all this functionality, the ability to create subaccounts for your storage space and a straightforward web-based management console helps you keep track of what’s going on.
Overall it’s a likeable package, and if your budget is non-existent then also consider IDrive Personal. There’s no server backup or subaccounts, but the basic features and 5GB of storage can be yours for free.
Price: From 10GB for £110 ($137, AU$178) per year
MozyPro is a small business-oriented cloud backup plan from Mozy, one of the most long-standing and popular backup providers.
As you’ve probably noticed from the headline price, MozyPro isn’t cheap, but the company does offer plenty of licencing flexibility. If 10GB isn’t enough you could get 50GB for £19 ($24, AU$31) per month, or £398 ($497, AU$647) for two years.
Whatever you choose, backup is a largely automatic, set-and-forget process. But there is also some configurability if you need it, including backup scheduling and even a choice of encryption (a 256-bit AES personal encryption key, or a managed key for 448-bit Blowfish).
Files can optionally be synced across all your hardware, including iOS or Android devices. Alternatively, you’re able to access them all from a web interface.
If you’ve opted for the baseline 10GB account, this won’t give you much space to play with, but MozyPro’s admin console offers some handy controls. Set up individual users and you’re able to specify the number of devices they can back up, optionally set a limit for their total storage space, and enable or disable the sync feature.
MozyPro’s high price will be a problem for some, but we’ve found the company provides a fast and reliable service. If you’ve had problems with cheaper products, give it a try.
6. SOS Online Backup for Business
Price: From 100GB for $300 (£240, AU$330) per year
SOS Online Backup for Business may look expensive, but there’s a simple explanation – the standard package includes a host of features which are premium add-ons elsewhere.
There’s no limit on the number of devices you can back up, for instance. Servers are supported, too. SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint? No problem at all.
The core product removes many of the annoying restrictions you’ll find elsewhere. There’s unlimited versioning, no file size limits, no maximum retention times, and the service backs up just about everything: PCs from Vista up, Macs, iOS and Android devices, flash drives, network drives and more.
SOS Online Backup offers an optional per-user encryption key which is never stored in the cloud, ensuring your data can’t be read by anyone else. That’s a major security plus, if you can put up with the usability issues. (You can’t browse or access files from the web, and if you lose the key there’s no way to recover them at all.)
In day-to-day use, the SOS Online Backup clients don’t always deliver quite as much functionality as we’d like. They’re still above average, though, and the service scores where it matters, being both fast and very easy-to-use. There’s a 15-day free trial if you’re interested in taking a look.
7. SpiderOak Groups
Price: From $1,080 (£867, AU$1,406) per year for 10 users
SpiderOak Groups is the team edition of SpiderOak One, a very secure backup system for groups of 10 or more users. Each user costs you a very reasonable $9 (£7.20, AU$11.70) a month for unlimited storage space with no device limits.
The product is based on the principle of ‘zero knowledge’ which means nothing leaves your computer until it’s encrypted, and SpiderOak has no more access to the data than anyone else. You don’t have to trust them, or worry about the server being hacked, because it won’t make any difference – no one’s getting in unless they know the password.
This is great for privacy, which is one reason Edward Snowden recommended SpiderOak back in 2014, but the service isn’t nearly as flexible or accessible as most of the competition. There’s a very basic one-way sync service, a limited web interface to access your files, and some clunky, read-only iOS and Android apps (check out the dire reviews on Google Play).
The app issue may not be such a problem if you’re happy with desktop backups, mind. And on the PC, say, SpiderOak is easy enough to set up, stays out of your way, and has an account management system to define exactly what your users can do.
Average performance and relatively weak mobile support means SpiderOak Groups won’t appeal to everyone, but if you have a large team which really needs a zero knowledge approach, then it could be a sensible choice.
8. SugarSync Business
Price: 1TB and up to 3 users for $550 (£442, AU$716) per year
SugarSync Business is a convenient file sync and cloud backup service with one or two handy enterprise-friendly extensions.
The core of the package is its powerful and configurable sync service. You choose your folders, and they’re uploaded then backed up in real-time, giving easy access to your data from PCs, Macs, Android or iOS devices.
There’s considerable control over file sharing. You can create public links to share data, invite specific people only, allow file viewing only, or give them editing permission, too.
SugarSync’s key advantage over similar services is that it’s not just based around a single folder. You’re able to choose any folder or folder tree, and have everything backed up and synced in the same way.
Opting for the Business plan takes the package further with 1TB of storage space for up to three users. Remote management enables the creation of user accounts with storage limits and permissions, and there’s a bonus option to remotely wipe one of your systems.
Limited versioning support might be an issue for some. SugarSync only maintains the last five versions of a file, not much of a safety margin, and disappointing when some services have no fixed limits at all.
On balance, SugarSync Business doesn’t have quite as many features as other products, but the strong sync and file sharing technologies have kept it on our shortlist.