# The Best Cloud Storage and Online Back-up Systems

Cloud storage and online back-up systems function by allowing your data to be transmitted over the internet and securely stored on remote networks of servers in data centers. The main advantage of using cloud storage and online back-up systems as opposed to localizing your data on a computer or hard-drive is the comfort in resting assured that your important information is not vulnerable to hardware failure, theft, natural disasters, or accidental deletion.

While “Cloud Storage” and “Online Back-Up Systems” have some overlapping qualities, it is important to understand the difference between the two in order to find the best application for your professional and personal needs.

The main distinction being that while cloud storage supplements your hard drive by providing extra storage, online back-up systems replicate your hard drive, thereby acting as its “back-up.”

Whereas online back-up systems offer a complete restoration of files in case of data loss, cloud storage systems allow you to better sync and share files from any device, thereby improving user accessibility.

Taking such distinctions into account, we have curated the following list of both cloud and back-up services to help you discover which applications cater to your specific needs and price-range.

A label on the left hand side of each review specifies whether the application is an “online back-up” or “cloud storage” system.

## 1. Backblaze

(Online Back-up)

When it comes to Backblaze, simplicity is key. This online back-up application streamlines the back-up process with minimal effort on the part of its users instead of overloading it with various features.

The disadvantage of a simple user-interface, however, is the lack of control that users have over the system. For example, features such as mobile back-up and server and image-based back-ups are completely missing and users are not able to see the name or the speed of the file while it’s being uploaded.

These limitations make it so that while Backblaze provides a simple, functional and user-friendly atmosphere, it can, however, prove a hindrance to those that prefer customization and control over their back-up systems.

### How much does Backblaze cost?

• Monthly Package:
• $6/month/computer • Recommended by the official Backblaze site for “Maximum Flexibility” • Yearly Package: •$60/year/computer
• Recommended by the official Backblaze site for “Most Organization”
• 2-Year Plan Package:
• $110/ 2-years/computer • Recommended by the official Backblaze site for “The Best Deal” #### Pros • Simple and Streamlined Experience • User-Friendly Interface • Relatively inexpensive • Unlimited backup #### Cons • Lack of Mobile and Server back-up • No user customization options over back-up process ## 2. Mega (Cloud Storage) If searching for a cloud storage system that prioritizes your privacy while remaining transparent about its source codes, Mega might be worth a look. A New-Zealand based service that utilizes end-to-end encryption (controlled by the user), Mega allows users to rest assured that their data is entirely protected. In fact, users can even share files in the encrypted form so that only people with the user-provided access key can read them. Furthermore, users are able to access Mega’s annual “Transparency Reports” dating back to 2015, when it started publishing them, thereby increasing user trust in the system. Mega is equipped with features such as file preview capabilities, displayed contacts, and a built-in chat, all of which improve the user experience. ### How much does Mega cost? • Free Package: •$0/month
• 50 GB storage
• ~1 GB transfer (consumable every 6 hours)
• The term “transfer” means the same thing as bandwidth
• Pro Lite Package:
• $5.67/month • 400 GB storage • 1 TB transfer (consumable immediately) • Pro I Package: •$11.34/month
• 2 TB storage
• 2 TB transfer (consumable immediately)
• Pro II Package:
• $22.70/month • 8 TB storage • 8 TB transfer (consumable immediately) • Pro III Package: •$34.06/month
• 16 TB storage
• 16 TB transfer (consumable immediately)

#### Pros

• Available in Mac, Window, and Linux Operating systems
• Available online on Android, iOS, Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browser extensions
• End-to-end (Client-side) data encryption
• Annual “Transparency Reports” available.

#### Cons

• No live customer service available

## 3. Acronis

(Online Back-up)

Equipped with an intuitive user-interface, Acronis’ online back-up system allows for a customizable user experience catered to the needs of the user. For example, in addition to the standard online backup scheduling option of monthly, weekly, daily, and all-time, Acronis also has an “Upon Event” option which lets users back-up their files upon logging on and off from their desktop.

Another unique characteristic of Acronis is its ability to backup not just your PC but also the data from your smartphone such as your photos, videos, and messages, giving it a multifaceted advantage over other online back-up systems. Acronis even offers a full backup of your social media accounts such as Instagram and Facebook!

Although Acronis does come with a sleek interface and  a plethora of features that allow users to customize their workspace, one thing to consider is its relatively high price ($100/year for 1 TB storage) especially when compared to other similar back-up systems such as IDrive ($70/year for 2 TB storage). For users with standard requirements for personal or small business use, it might be a better idea to invest in a cheaper alternative. That being said, Acronis’ impressive features including its ability to replicate backups into cloud storage (available in higher tiers of the plans) can prove invaluable to the user.

### How much does Acronis cost?

• Essential Package:
• $49.99/year/computer • Full Image backup, Active disk cloning,quick recovery and universal restore, ransomware and crypto mining blocker • Advanced Package: •$69.99/year/computer
• 500 GB cloud storage
• All Essential package features + Replicate backups in the cloud, Office 365 backup
• $99.99/year/computer • 1 TB cloud storage • All Advanced package features + Blockchain certification of files, Electronic signatures of files #### Pros • Continuous and Incremental Backup • Secure Data Storage • Cloud storage available • Intuitive User Interface • Secure Data Storage • Web Access #### Cons Relatively expensive ## 4. Zoolz (Cloud Storage) A cloud storage system with a straightforward user interface and top-notch web management options, Zoolz is more than equipped to help you succeed in your personal and business data storage. Some of its features include automatic deduplication (technique used to reduce the amount of storage space needed to save its data), 24/7 customer assistance, server backups, and end-to-end encryption for data security. Admittedly, the Zoolz interface is not much to look at, in that it is somewhat bland compared to that of other systems such Google Drive for example. However, much of the work that Zoolz does is behind the scenes anyways where it is continuously backing up data, therefore there is no specific need for a sleek or modern user interface. If the Zoolz client list of Dell, Duracell, and Harvard College is any indication towards its functionality, then Zoolz is more than capable of getting the work done. Simple and functional, that seems to be the Zoolz way! ### How much does Zoolz cost? • 1TB Package: •$15/month
• 1 TB of storage
• Unlimited external drives, unlimited users, unlimited servers, file versioning
• 2TB Package:
• $30/month • 2 TB of storage • Unlimited external drives, unlimited users, unlimited servers, file versioning • 5TB Package: •$75/month
• 5 TB of storage
• Unlimited external drives, unlimited users, unlimited servers, file versioning

#### Pros

• Automated: Easy to set up and forget about
• Variety of available features
• Instant Backups

#### Cons

• Lacking Two-Factor Authentication
• At times “bland” user interface

## 5. iCloud

(Cloud Storage)

Arguably one of the most popular cloud storage systems in the world, iCloud, (thanks to its Apple products integration) has become quite the household name. In fact, for many Apple users, iCloud is such a built-in part of their Apple experience that they don’t even notice it’s behind-the-scenes work.  For example, iCloud automatically updates purchases from iTunes onto all of your devices. Similarly, it syncs all of your devices with other Apple productivity tools such as Pages and Keynote. A feature called “Find my iPhone” even helps users locate misplaced devices.

With iCloud, users are able to access contacts, e-mails, calendars, and pictures through all Apple devices or other associated devices, thanks to iCloud’s cloud synching capabilities. Furthermore, iCloud’s “family sharing” feature allows users to share files, music, movies, and so much more with their family members.

iCloud is also compatible with other operating Systems (besides MacOS) such as Windows and it also integrates well with external software infrastructures such as Microsoft Office and Page Duty.

### How much does iCloud cost?

• 5 GB Package:
• Free
• 50 GB Plan
• $0.99/month • 200 GB Plan •$2.00/month
• 2 TB Plan
• $9.99/month #### Pros • 5 GB free storage • Apple Integration • Ability to store files, music, photos, and videos • “Family Sharing” plan available • Incredible user accessibility #### Cons Mostly focused on Apple, not as catered to a Windows client ## 6. IDrive (Online Back-up) Setting itself apart from other online back-up services, IDrive effortlessly blurs the line between online back-up and cloud storage. Although primarily recommended to back up data for personal or small business use, IDrive’s cloud synchronization and file sharing features also make it ideal for cloud storage, thereby doubling the storage space available to users (through both cloud storage and online back-up). Users are able to access IDrive from various devices including tablets, iPhones, and desktops. Additionally, IDrive offers its mobile services on both Android and iOS and its desktop services on Windows and MacOS, all of which improve user accessibility and ease-of-use. If you are on the look for a flexible online back-up application that also works as a hybrid cloud storage service, IDrive is the one for you! ### How much does IDrive cost? • Free Package: •$0/year
• 5 GB of storage space
• Personal Package:
• $69.50/year • Limited to one user, Unlimited computes, 2 TB of storage space • Enterprise Package: •$99.50/year
• Unlimited users, Unlimited computers and servers, 250 GB of storage

#### Pros

• Cloud storage abilities while being an online back-up service
• Unlimited devices
• Functions on multiple operating systems including MacOS and Windows

#### Cons

• Limited Storage
• Continuous backup is not an option

## 7. SpiderOak

(Cloud Storage)

Known for its “zero knowledge” feature which uses end-to-end encryption when storing data, SpiderOak is a privacy-oriented cloud storage system that prioritizes a secure experience for its users. It is important to note, however, that SpiderOak does not provide two-factor authentication, which comes as quite a surprise given its other security measures.

Available in Windows, macOS or Linux operating systems, SpiderOak allows users to sync, share, or just simply backup their data on their desktops. Unfortunately, in regards to mobile devices, SpiderOak does not allow users to backup data directly from phones or tablets, rather users are only able to view already-uploaded data.

Ultimately, SpiderOak is for those that prioritize security while being willing to compromise a bit on user-accessibility from various devices.

### How much does SpiderOak cost?

• 150 GB Package:
• $6/month OR$69/year
• Unlimited Devices
• 400 GB Package:
• $6/month OR$115/year
• Unlimited Devices
• 2 TB Package:
• $14/month OR$149/year
• Unlimited Devices
• 5 TB Package:
• $29/month OR$329/year
• Unlimited Devices

#### Pros

• Zero Knowledge feature
• End-to End encryption feature
• Available on multiple operating systems

#### Cons

• No two-factor authentication
• Back-up not  adaptable to mobile apps

## 8. OneDrive

(Cloud Storage)

The default cloud storage option for services such as Windows 10 and Office 360, OneDrive is Microsoft’s version of Apple’s iCloud. In fact, OneDrive has more experience being in the market, as it predates iCloud by 5+ years. OneDrive is compatible with Android, Windows, and even Xbox! All of which makes OneDrive very accessible and easy-to-use for many.

OneDrive is equipped with sleek mobile and web interfaces and a plethora of other useful features such as co-authoring synced documents, music streaming, and various photo management options. Furthermore, with the recently introduced feature called Personal Vault which allows users an extra layer of security when storing files on OneDrive using two-factor authentication, OneDrive is also privacy-oriented.

If searching for a reliable and time-tested cloud storage option for your personal or business use (particularly if you are a Windows PC user), OneDrive might just be the one for you!

### How much does One Drive cost?

• 5 GB Package:
• Free
• Personal Vault: Store up to 3 Files
• Free Office for the web
• 100 GB Package:
• $1.99/month • All features from the “5 GB” package • 1 TB Package: •$6.99/month OR $69.99/year • Personal Vault: Unlimited amount of files • All features from “100 GB” package + Comes with Office 365, Tansomaware detection and recovery, field restoration, offline folders etc • 6 TB Package: •$9.99/month OR $99.99/year • Personal Vault: Unlimited amount of files • All features from “1 TB” package #### Pros • Great integration of Windows 10 and Office 360 • Sleek interface • “Personal Vault” feature provides extra security • Two-Factor Authentication #### Cons Mostly catered towards Microsoft users ## 9. Carbonite (Online Back-up) With continuous back-up features and an unlimited amount of data storage, Carbonite has proved itself to be both a reliable and easy to use online back-up system. Carbonite is compatible with both macOS and Windows (all versions) and files are accessible through a desktop or online. Carbonite has a notable partner feature called “Carbonite Endpoint Protection,” which allows users to mitigate data loss from stolen devices and improve control over personal data. On Carbonite’s online site, one user has cited the following about the feature, “Carbonite Endpoint Protection allows me to sleep deeply. Protecting against data loss on laptops has never been so non-intrusive and easy.” In regards to back-up scheduling, Carbonite not only allows users to back-up files as soon as any changes are made but it also allows user the flexibility to create their own schedule of when to backup their files (eg: once a day or twice a week) ### How much does Carbonite cost? • Basic Package: •$71.99/year
• Unlimited Storage
• Plus Package:
• $111.99/year • All features from the “Basic” package + support for backing up external hard drives, backing up videos by default, ability to locally back up a complete system image • Prime Package: •$149.99/year
• All features from “Plus” package + Courier recovery service in case of a major loss

#### Pros

• Unlimited Storage Data
• Mobile Apps available
• Continuous back-up
• Carbonite End-point Protection available for increased data security

#### Cons

Have to manually select back-up schedule for large files

(Cloud Storage)

The best is often saved for last, and this time is no exception. Google Drive is arguably the cloud-based storage system that provides users with the most benefits and services. It’s multifaceted approach to collaboration allows users to create and edit documents, powerpoints, spreadsheets and other files at the same time with minimum lag in speed.

Most notably, Google Drive offers 15 GB of cloud storage for free, allowing users to experience its many features without hurting their pockets whatsoever. Furthermore, Google Drive’s integration with other Google products such as “gmail” and Google Calendar and Google Photos make it so that users are truly able to sync all aspects of their professional or personal life, thereby leading to a more organized workflow.

### How much does Google Drive cost?

• 15 GB Individual Package:
• Free
• All features and benefits of Google Drive
• Free
• All features and benefits of Google Drive
• 100 GB Package:
• $2/month • All features and benefits of Google Drive • 1 TB Package: •$10/month
• All features and benefits of Google Drive
• 10 TB Package:
• $100/month • All features and benefits of Google Drive • 20 TB Package: •$200/month
• All features and benefits of Google Drive
• 30 TB Package:
• \$300/month
• All features and benefits of Google Drive

#### Pros

• Cross-Platform applications
• Over 10 GB of free storage space
• Integration of external applications
• Collaboration-oriented

#### Cons

Shared files are not protected with a password

## Selecting the Best Cloud Storage and Online Back-Up System:

The best cloud storage and online backup system  for any business is entirely dependent upon your specific needs and requirements. In other words, it is truly a case-by-case situation.

Here are a few things to consider when debating which of the systems from the list will cater to your needs:

### 1. Pricing

Pricing of your system given the budget that you have to work within plays a major role in deciding which cloud-based storage or online backup system would work best for you or your business. Given the vast range of prices, as shown by the list above, there is no doubt that you will be able to find a perfect fit.

Many systems in the list above have different tiers and “packages” available within their pricing plans. In fact, systems such as Google Drive and One Drive even offer a free package through which you can get your feet wet without having to risk your money. Other systems such as SpiderOak offer an overall discounted deal if users decide to sign up for the annual commitment instead of the monthly one. Therefore, it is highly recommended that users carefully examine the pricing stipulations of each system before committing to one!

### 2. Required Storage

Similar to pricing, different systems have their own set of limitations on how much storage is offered in various tiers of their respective plans.

Some systems such as Carbonite may offer unlimited storage in their most basic plan, whereas others such as SpiderOak and iCloud have different storage options ranging from 5 GB- 5 TB.

Therefore, it is important that you examine the file size in your personal and business inventory and purchase the system that best matches your storage needs.

### 3. Available Features

It goes without saying that one of the most important things to consider in a cloud storage or online backup system is the actual features available within said system and whether they tick off your required criteria.

Some systems are more privacy-oriented, such as SpiderOak and OneDrive with features like end-to-end encryption , zero knowledge, and personal vaults.

Meanwhile, others are more collaboration-focused such as Google Drive, which allows multiple users to simultaneously create and edit documents, powerpoints, spreadsheets and other files with minimum lag in speed.

Ultimately, the set of available features should dictate what systems you purchase!

1. What is the difference between an “ Online Back-Up ” and a “Cloud Storage”?

The most notable difference between an Online Back-Up and a Cloud Storage is that cloud storage supplements your hard drive by providing extra storage WHEREAS online back-up systems replicate your hard drive, thereby acting as its “back-up.”

Online back-up systems offer a complete restoration of files in case of data loss and cloud storage systems allow you to better sync and share files from any device.

2. What are some standard features to expect in an Online Backup or Cloud Storage system?

Online backup and cloud storage systems contain many features that set them apart from one another, however these are some standard features to expect out of most of them:

a. Support for backing up external hard drives
b. Integration of either Windows of Mac Operating Systems
c. Two Factor Authentication (not included in all)
d. End-to-end encryption (not included in all)
e. Continuous backup (some even allow users to create a set schedule for when data should be backed up)

3. What are the benefits of using an Online Backup or Cloud Storage system?

Cloud storage and online back-up systems allow your important data to be securely stored on remote networks of servers in data centers. The main advantage of using cloud storage and online back-up systems instead of saving your data on a hard-drive is that you are safeguarding your data against hardware failure, theft, natural disasters, or accidental deletion.

4. What exactly does gigabyte (GB) mean?

Gigabytes (GB) is a unit to measure how much data any equipment (such as a hard drive) can hold.  Cloud storage and online backup systems, such as the ones listed above, use this measurement to calculate the sizes of files that need to be stored on their application.

Oftentimes, their price tiers are based on the GB that is needed.
Terabytes (TB) are the same case as GB. 1 TB= 1000 GB

## Conclusion

The vast market for cloud-based storage and back-up systems can make it confusing and intimidating to select the best option for you and your business. However, once you have a good idea of the specific storage requirements and data size for your files as well as the budget that you have to work within, it is quite straightforward to select one.

Utilizing a cloud storage and back-up system is beneficial in the long run as it allows you to rest assured that your important data is safe and protected. Thereby, in case of a hardware failure or any other unforeseen situation, you always have the option to press a button and replace all your data, just as simple as that!