Best online backup services 2021: Carbonite vs. iDrive vs. Backblaze

Online backup is an essential hedge against physical data disaster. Whether it’s an act of theft or an act of God (earthquakes, floods, hard-drive devouring locusts), you never know what could hit your PC or phone, and when. This is an especially important issue for mobile-centric users, who stand to lose a lot of their digital possessions if their device disappears.

Uploading your data to an online service covers a lot of the bases. Some people call these “cloud” services, but in reality, your data is stored on servers at the other end of the connection—that is, someone else’s hard drives. But that’s part of the plan! The backup Rule of Three says you should maintain three copies of your data: the original, a copy, and a copy of the copy. One copy should be in a safe place away from the original and secondary.

We always recommend keeping a local backup for quick restores (see our backup software roundup for desktop solutions), but online can actually serve as both the second and third copies—assuming the vendor keeps its servers backed up, or adequately redundant.

We’ve reviewed the major online backup services and picked the best below—and we’ll keep updating our reviews as services come and go. Our primary concern here is backup, but we will note other roles that a service can fulfill, whether to share it with others or have it handy when working from multiple devices or varied locations.

All the services we tested work well, so feel free to kick the tires and pick the one that suits your fancy. That said, there are some obvious best choices depending on what your needs are.

Best overall online backup: iDrive

Just as when we originally reviewed all the major online backup services, iDrive remains the most comprehensive online backup service. And though it’s not the cheapest, it’s still affordable and comes with backup clients for nearly every PC and device, including Windows Phone—a rarity these days. The company also provides additional storage for syncing all your devices and PCs, allows sharing of files with anyone, and has the ability to back up to a local drive. 

iDrive has two Personal plans that cover one user with unlimited computers and devices: $69.50 a year for 5TB, and $99.50 a year for 10TB. Business plans allow for up to 50 users, starting at $99.50 for five users, and going up from there, with the 50-user tier costing $999.50. For all the details, read our full review of iDrive.

Best budget online backup service: Backblaze

If you’re not sure what you want to back up, or where it is, or just don’t want the pressure of trying to figure it all out—Backblaze is the online backup service for you. It offers unlimited storage, and backs up everything except items you explicitly exclude. Given all that, it’s ridiculously inexpensive compared to the competition: $6 a month, $60 a year, or $110 for two years for unlimited storage. Per PC. That’s it. It’s the same for business PCs. Read our full review of Backblaze for more details.

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