Many online backup services for business claim a lot of features, such as truly unlimited backup and fast upload and download times, but often these promises fall short in real-life usage. The old adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies. For simple file storage or sharing, you might be satisfied with a low-priced, consumer-level product. But if you need more for your business, you’ll need to be pickier.
The top business online backup services provide application and operating system backup, advanced file versioning, compliance-level security, 24-hour support, server and NAS backup and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) features. Of course, they also should be simple to use and include advanced training opportunities. For our money, the choice comes down to Amazon S3, Code 42 CrashPlan, OpenDrive, Microsoft Azure and Backblaze B2 Cloud Storage.
Best Business Backup Solutions
To create our narrow list of the best solutions, we looked for products that can support larger businesses with unlimited storage options, and we considered those that can provide support for virtual environments as well as networked devices. The best backup services for business should provide much more than just simple file backups. Also included, are the biggest names — Amazon and Microsoft. The pricing noted is the lowest pricing offered, often for long-term type storage.
Amazon is scalable enough to support any business. It provides standard storage, infrequently accessed storage and archive storage options. The digital giant even supports lifecycle policies to help you manage when to move data to less frequently accessed storage options.
The standard plan includes free retrieval, and the other two plans charge per GB retrieved. Larger plans charge less per GB. Most of the time, Amazon experiences an uptime of nearly 100 percent; however, as part of its service agreement, you can receive credit for those occasions when you get less than 99.9 percent. Service notices are posted online 24/7, and you can subscribe to a feed to receive notifications about interruptions.
This backup service is compatible with all other Amazon web services, such as data migration services, IAM and KMS security, alert and notification services, big data analytics, content distribution and more. It is also compatible with all browsers, hardware and operating systems.
Amazon S3 uses transfer acceleration technologies (uploads and downloads) to increase speeds by as much as 300 percent. All objects are automatically replicated to a dissimilar geolocation of your choice. It supports complex versioning.
Amazon also supports both IPv4 and IPv6 addressing, and all data transfers are encrypted. A variety of security options available. You’ll want to consult with your Amazon representative if you need specialized security for compliance to ensure that you adopt the correct services.
The Amazon Web Services (AWS) console can be accessed using any web browser, including Chrome and Safari. Apps are available for mobile devices. Using this console, you can manage all AWS settings, including your cloud backup services. Using this interface, you can manage such tasks as viewing alerts, load balancing, status checks, managing groups and tags, deploying app versions, viewing configuration details and events. Strict sign-in policies are enforced, and devices can be deactivated if lost or stolen. Multi-factor authentication is also supported.
Extensive training and development tools are available, as well as active forums and webinars. Since so many businesses use Amazon services, you can easily find support on just about any topic directly from your peers as well.
Ideal for all types of businesses who have outgrown introductory type services.
Backblaze is all about the bottom line. It is low-priced and simple to use. It beats its reported competitors, Amazon and Azure, in price by a large margin with a rate of $50 per year per computer or $0.005 per GB per month. It also reports to be faster at requests than Amazon Glacier (which, honestly, is not a fair comparison since Glacier is its long-term “cold storage” option). But, marketing speak aside, it is advertised in terms of being affordable.
This cloud-based business backup service provides two business plans. The first is Business Backup and the other is B2 Cloud Storage. Business Backup provides standard file and folder backup services. B2 Cloud Storage is the one the company compares to its large competitors. While the management interface is simple to use, we cannot say that it will do everything that an advanced user might desire. It organizes files by “bucket” names, and the initial load may take some time, even a few weeks. This is designed for people who don’t want to hassle with the software, so it provides few configuration options. It does not backup applications or operating systems.
You can restore one file or a folder at a time from the cloud, or you can request a loaded hard drive for restoring your files more quickly. It does not provide advanced services or paid restoration consultant options. We reviewed a few sources and found no telephone support option. If you have an issue, you have to contact them online and go from there, which could be an issue if you find yourself in an emergency situation. We also found minimal security documentation. You’ll want to consider this product carefully if you have compliance requirements to meet.
This product is suitable for low-priced storage that is simple to manage. It is a no-frills option, and not suitable if you need file sharing, application backup or disk image.
Code 42 provides backup plans for small businesses and enterprise-sized companies. Plans start at $6 per month for one user. For a large plan, you must request a price quote. Affordable managed services are available for those who do not have dedicated IT resources.
Code 42 plans differ in more than just storage size. For example, monthly fees go up if you want to add services such as compliance support, georedundant storage, legal hold capabilities, discovery features and data activity monitoring. Co-branding is available for enterprise subscribers. Three paid support plans are available.
While this business cloud backup service is not as large as Amazon, it is still a competitor and many like its flat rate pricing for stored data. One of the aspects Code 42 markets as one of its selling features is its security tools. All services should have technologies to help you keep your data safe, but code 42 specifically provides file movement reporting that can help you track sensitive information, even if it’s innocently shared by an employee, so you can manage your compliance issues and protect customer’s data, as well. It provides reports for monitoring endpoint activities, including removal of portable media, movement of files to personal cloud storage services, file uploads and pattern matching scans (SSNs or credit card numbers, for example). These tools can really be helpful in controlling this type of information.
In regards to recovery, it can restore to dissimilar devices including across platforms. Professional services are available if you request them, including the quick shipment of a hardware device to you if you need a fast restore completed. A user can restore their own files without IT support, even to a mobile device. The administration console can manage over 100,000 users. The dashboard provides visual reports on usage, and you can manage all devices and users through it. You can also adjust accounting settings and manage your account. However, it appears that the mobile app is just for backing up files rather than for management.
This is an affordable alternative to Amazon S3 and suitable for smaller operations, as well. The tools are best suited for those who need to monitor file movement, such as those who manage sensitive legal documents.
Microsoft Azure is big like Amazon Web Services, and advanced service providers such as Rackspace offer support for these two products. Azure is supported by 26 data center regions and is available in over 140 countries. To estimate the cost of this service, Microsoft offers a pricing calculator. To use the calculator, you’ll need to know about your infrastructure and your expected usage. Like Amazon, it charges by usage rather than a flat monthly rate. It offers hot and cold storage options — Hot for frequently accessed data and Cool for more long-term, static storage.
A variety of security options are available, and some are suitable to satisfy compliance issues. It offers encryption (transit and rest), access management, token and access signature support, virtual disk encryption and more. Management features are provided for you to control your security and access protocols. Levels of security are available to satisfy government agency requirements as well as those for legal and medical services. The Azure service agreement guarantees at least a 99.9-percent availability for both standard services and the security center. It performs georedundant backup and often is able to store your second backup only 250 miles from the primary region to keep it relatively local.
Recovery can be performed at the file level or you can purchase a continuity plan that includes disaster recovery services. Services also include the ability to create dev-test environments to test continuity plans. For a major recovery, you may need to consult with one of its recovery partners, such as Visions Solutions, Veeam, EMC2 or netApp. Or as mentioned, you can work with services such as Rackspace to help you manage your Azure configurations and more.
Microsoft Azure is most suitable for large organizations or medium-sized businesses with complex needs. It claims 66 percent of the Fortune 500 market. If you need file backup for a small company, Microsoft’s OneDrive for Business may suffice.
OpenDrive offers customized and unlimited plans for personal and business use. White-labeling opportunities are also available for a relatively low price. The introductory product is $7 per month with 25 GB of daily bandwidth. Other plans are Business Unlimited at $29.95 and Enterprise Unlimited at $59.95 per month. A bit more is added to your bill for additional users. The larger accounts do not have bandwidth restrictions. Applications are available for Windows, Mac, Android, iPhone and WordPress. WebDAV and API tools are also available.
Selling points of OpenDrive, besides the low price, include the project management and file sharing features. Using this service, you can add notes, tasks, projects and comments to files. Then you can share and edit those files with others. These are good tools for groups that work on projects together. Documents can be edited within the system, files and folders can be shared by links and shortcuts, file versioning is supported, and notifications can be configured to alert you when a file is edited.
In terms of backup, this service is more geared toward file backup rather than full system or network backup. It can manage files and folders regardless of the platform used, and it can sync between multiple users and computers. OpenDrive does not offer the option of shipping you a recovery device for quick restores of a large amount of data. Data transfers are protected with 128-bit encryption, and premium users are provided a special folder for “secure files.” This folder is protected by AES 256-bit encryption and what is called “zero-knowledge” protection. The company reports 100-percent uptime and offer 24-hour email support. OpenDrive does not report to be HIPPA compliant, so you’ll have to ensure this service can satisfy your compliance needs if applicable.
While this product is popular. We did notice a few areas of concern. One is that you need to carefully review your terms before signing. Some customers have reported difficulty receiving refunds or canceling their account in a timely matter due to the term agreements. Second, we noticed that the topics posted in their community section are often dated, with only a few posted within the past year.
The telephone support hours are limited to Monday through Friday, noon to 6 p.m. EST. Many other services offer more extended phone hours. It is recommended that you carefully review the terms of your contract and ensure that the product can do everything you need it to do before signing up.
This product is most suitable for file storage and sharing, as it is not meant to perform full system restores.
Among the most compelling reasons to invest in an online backup service are georedundant storage, fewer pieces of hardware to purchase and maintain, unlimited storage options and professional recovery services combined with compliance-level security. But there are some things to keep in mind as you start your hunt for the right one for your company.
Are All Cloud Backup Services the Same?
In some ways, yes. In fact, many small backup services use larger services such as Amazon for their actual infrastructure. What those smaller companies sell is customer service and the interface that you use to manage your backup. Smaller companies also benefit from the fact that they don’t have to meet compliance requirements and data security; that’s left to the Amazon’s of the world. When you are investigating a new storage service, you can ask them if they use a third-party service. You should also ask them about specific security protocols if you need to meet compliance requirements. We’d recommend that you test the management dashboard to see if it offers features that you cannot get directly from a larger service. If not, you may as well consider the larger company.
The entire point of storing data is to be able to access it when needed. Some businesses are looking to back up data for restoration of everything. Others need long-term document storage for legal compliance (for example, medical, legal and financial industries). Most services offer a few restoration options should disaster strike. They include technologies that can help transfer data more quickly, as well as the option of shipping you an external drive with your preloaded data for direct-connect recovery.
If you need recovery consulting, your backup service can provide assistance, often at an hourly rate. It is highly recommended that you do not wait for a problem to occur. You should perform a test recovery (or a few) to test scenarios and address issues before a real problem occurs. All recovery procedures should be well-documented, and more than one person should have access to it should something categorically serious happen (e.g., earthquake, flood, fire). Your service should be able to provide assistance 24-hour, any day of the year.
Backup for Small Businesses
If you only need to back up a couple of PCs or laptops, you likely can easily manage the backup yourself using an external drive (or two) and an affordable online backup service. You may even only need minimal backup if you use online services, such as FreshBooks, Basecamp or Office 365, that manage a lot of your business backup for you. However, if your situation is more complex and you are not experienced with backup practices, most experts recommend that you get help to set up your backup scenarios. Data backup and security consultants often charge per project and/or by the hour, but getting help will greatly reduce the time and frustration you may experience trying to learn how to set up your backup.
Business Cloud Backup Pricing
While you may be familiar with a lot of so-called “unlimited” plans with low monthly flat rates, we’ve learned that unlimited is often not unlimited, and bandwidth may be controlled. Larger services such as Amazon provide more complex pricing, but often in a “pay what you use” manner rather than a flat rate. When estimating your monthly budget, you’ll want to think about not just how much data storage you need, but also how you plan to use it.
Storage may be priced differently, depending upon how often you need to access it. Frequently accessed data will cost the most. Archived or long-term storage costs the least. Many companies will use both frequently accessed storage for dynamic data and archived storage for static files.
You may be charged for retrieving data as well as moving data between services, such as from a frequently accessed plan to an archived location. You may also be charged for the bandwidth required to move large volumes of data.
Additional one-time services may also need to be considered, such as setup consultations, advanced support, recovery assistance and the creation and shipping of recovery hardware. Some services even charge a bit more to your monthly bill for compliance support.
Most companies employ a three-legged backup strategy utilizing physical, virtual and online storage methods. Physical is managed by your IT team on site. Virtual environments can be online or often in-house to help manage hardware usage. Online is the off-site option supported by the cloud backup service. This third level of protection will help you restore data should something happen onsite, such as a hardware failure, cyber attack, simple user error or environmental disaster. Some services also integrate file sharing elements, but often something simpler such as SharePoint, Google Docs or Dropbox is used for simple file sharing.
Backup plans can be quite complex, so you’ll want to map it out carefully. You may benefit from using flow chart software to map relationships between devices alongside creating a backup schedule and procedures. Many companies use solutions such as Veritas Backup Exec (formerly known as Symantec Backup Exec) to help with backup processes. You’ll also want to ensure that the service you choose works with the technologies and hardware you use. Most will restore to dissimilar hardware fairly easily, but you may want to ask about that as well.
A Few Warnings
Users often have the same types of complaints and issues when dealing with backup services. Not all services present the same challenges, but when researching you’ll want to address these issues before you submit to a contract and send off your payment information.
Read the fine print. As most legal documents, service contracts are full of legalese and contractual obligations for both parties. Be sure to carefully review how you can get out of a contract should you be dissatisfied, and look for auto-renew information if applicable. We found one that will not let you out of a contract for technical difficulties if they feel their product is not causing the problem. Another we read about processes renewals on day 364 automatically without alerting the customer, since it is “part of the contract.”
Upload and Download Speed and File Size
Some customers report that the files sizes and speeds they transfer do not match with what the service reports, resulting in a larger bill than expected with services that charge by usage. Of course, you should monitor what is going on, but you’ll also want to find out exactly how the service configures file sizes. Some may charge different rates for upload and download or charge more for larger file sizes, and some may charge double for redundant backup. So, spend a bit of time in advance figuring out exactly how you’re being charged; it will save your company money in the long run.
What Can It Back Up?
Some customers have reported that they’ve had issues with some backup services not supporting all file types. Some cannot back up applications or operating systems at all. Some cannot back up mapped drives or those connected to other external sources such as Box. Some will not back up active files. And most have limits on how long they will save deleted files. Consult with the service before signing to see if it will support all of your backup needs or if there are suitable workarounds.
Other Online Backup Services
Acronis True Image Cloud
Norton Online Backup
SugarSync for Business
Zoolz for Business