Best Free Online Backup

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Introduction

Do you know when the absolute worst time to think about backups is? It’s the moment when the tech support guy tells you your hard drive has died and your data is lost.

The free online backup services will save your files off-site to the cloud. If your hard drive crashes, your files are not lost. Your first line of defense should be an external hard drive to back up your hard drive or a jump drive for your documents.

An online backup provides 24/7 access to your files from any Internet connected computer, smartphone or tablet devices. Data storage in the cloud is one of the quickest means to data archiving and recovery.

One error that the free online backups will not help is recovery of a file a split second after you delete that important presentation or cherished photo. Most free services do not save deleted files but write over the old file.

One possible strategy is to use several free sites. Use one site for photos, a second for general documents and a third site with pre-upload and post-download encryption for your financial documents and other documents you want to keep private.

Read also Requirements to Judge the Online Backup at the end of this page.

 

Rated Products

There are a number of products and vendors that promise you online data storage and backup. Here are my recommendations:

IDrive  

An online backup with pre-file-transfer encryption and long term reliability


Our Rating: 
5
License: Free (Limited features)
Files can be located any place on you computer. Does have pre/post file transfer encryption. It has versioning.
Only 5 GB of Storage; Not well known.
Read full review...

Google Drive  

An established and well-known cloud service gives you a large amount of free storage


Our Rating: 
4.5
License: Free (Limited features)
15 GB of Storage; Easy to install and use; Automatically syncs files.
No file encryption; All files have to be in the Google Drive folder.
Read full review...

OneDrive  

Access, backup and share files on PC, Mac, Android and iOS


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Limited features)
25 GB of Online Storage for old subscribers or 7 GB if you are a new subscriber; User files on your hard drive will automatically sync with OneDrive.
No encryption; All files to be synchronized must be located in the OneDrive folder on your PC.
Read full review...

Dropbox  

One of the well-known online storage and file sync services


Our Rating: 
4
License: Free (Limited features)
Quick and light, file syncing between most desktops and mobile devices.
Limited small free storage, folder for syncing must be created.
Read full review...

Other Online Backups

These are other online backup services which are not rated:

  • Mozy: Like most of the online backup providers, Mozy offers 2 GB for free and the option to add more through paid services. Mozy comes with PC and MAC clients, schedule backups and even file encryption. The encryption capabilities provide some peace of mind to those looking for an Online Backup Solution but concerned about privacy.

  • ADrive: After testing for the past month, ADrive meets one of three off-line backup requirements. The storage size is very large at 50 GB. The downside is that it does not sync files. Longevity of the free service needs to be proven.

Dropped from the list:

  • Windows Live Mesh: Microsoft dropped it in favor of OneDrive exclusively.
  • Bee Cloud ceased operation in March 2012.
  • CX: The terms of service has changed, therefore it is no longer free. Existing users can keep their free account with certain condition, but new users have a 15/30 day trials.
  • Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo mail: not really back up systems.

NB: Do you have a great free online backup solution? If so, then tell us about it in the comments section.

 

Related Products and Links

You might want to check out these articles too:

 

Requirements to Judge the Online Backup

The requirements to judge the online backup are listed below:

  • Storage Size: More free storage is obviously better. Our photo files are larger and we are taking more photos. This requires more storage.

  • Document Synchronization: Documents and files created or changed need to automatically be uploaded to the Cloud.

  • Long Term Reliability of the Site: Will your files be there available a year from now, five years from now? This is subjective. If I have heard of the service before I became editor of this category or one of our readers makes a compelling argument, the site will be considered reliable.

  • Security: It should be assumed that security is minimal for the free sites. If the files you upload will not be encrypted, there's nothing to stop someone from looking at your files. This includes law enforcement officials who can serve papers from a judge requesting copies of your files. The services I have checked do not have encryption on the fly. Spideroak has pre-egress or pre-internet security. Your files are encrypted before they are uploaded.

  • File Location: Ideally the files should be able to be located any place on your hard drive. Instead many online backup services require a special folder to be created. All your files will have to be stored in that folder. Also, the files will have to be stored on the local drive and copied to the online service.

  • Ease of Use: The service should be menu driven and intuitive when selecting the files and folders to be backed up. These are two primary ways to do this:

    1. The first way is the service creates a folder and all the files in the folder are backed up. OneDrive does it this way. It creates a OneDrive folder and everything in this folder is backed up.

    2. The second way is you select folders or files inside the program. Using Spideroak, a tree of your files and folders is displayed and you select the files/folders to back-up by clicking a check box.

 

Other Thoughts

While 2 GB seems to be about the standard when this section first started. Now it is hardly enough. 2GB is roughly equivalent to 250,000 text emails, or 300 songs, or 250 pictures. We all have more the 250 pictures and will run out of space using only a 2 GB of storage.

Since this web site is all about free software, etc., I suggest using two online backup services. Use the sites with pre file transfer encryption for your important documents such as tax returns, then use OneDrive for photos. OneDrive has 7 GB. If you were lucky enough to have had OneDrive before they changed their service, you may have 25 GB of storage.

Besides the storage capacity, the ability to quickly get your data and long term service are other key factors to consider. Some of the above recommendations do not have proven track records but well known companies are likely able to provide long term service for you. Your data should be available and controllable by you. Being able to move your data from one provider to another or even duplicate it amongst providers for redundant backups are also key considerations when choosing a cloud storage solution. The first four suggestions above offer quick accessibility and easy exporting of the data so that you can take to another provider should the need occur.

Finally, regardless of the method or type of backup, whether online, disk to disk, imaging, CD / DVD copying, or floppies (hopefully not!), having a recent backup of your data will ensure that you never have to face that dreaded split second after your data gets ruined.

 

Editor

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Comments

that is right. Snowden was quite specific on USA only. bout the others we can only guess.

Thanks for that link, I tried Comodo's on-line storage ages ago and it was excrutiatingly slow. I just had a look at the site a minute ago though and it all looks very different so I'll give it another try.

I'm especially intrigued by the choice of software download ... cCloud looks like the usual HDD folder that syncs with your on-line storage but there's also cDrive which "offers the posibility (sic) to access your cCloud storage directly, with any program, without consuming any local disk space." Interesting.

10Gb isn't bad either for a freebie.

How about Mega giving 50GB of free storage with end-to-end encryption.
https://mega.co.nz/
It is still a young site but with increasingly popularity.

A client for synchronization is also available as a beta release
https://mega.co.nz/#F!LYIxgCwK!PyrZYH1nDKsP8t4EQhE0Vg

Cheers,

JustCloud claims absolute freedom and unlimited space. I get the feeling I will be stung by a free trial etc when signing up. Can you confirm if it really is a FREE, UNLIMITED service?! I'm suspicious!!!

It is not free, and therefore will not be considered here. The comment will be deleted in due time.

I have been using CrashPlan for a couple of years now and I think it is great, I was surprised to not see it even mentioned!

The free version of CrashPlan does not allow online backup. Whereas this article is about services which provide space for online backup. Don't think CrashPlan will be considered on this review.

If you're worried about longevity, I've used ADrive for quite a few years, and with no difficulty. It is slow to upload material, and it is a bit cumbersome, but I've never had a problem with it. They say you can only keep stuff in a public folder for a limited amount of time, but they clearly don't monitor that, and I have stuff there indefinitely.

On the other hand, Dropbox is a pain-in-the-ass. I have about 3.4 GB of space that is only about half filled, and rarely has anything been downloaded from my public file, except by my instructions. The other day, they accused me of too much activity and suspended my account for 72 hours. I'm in the process of moving all my stuff to ADrive, and Dropbox can get bent. I can so all the syncing I need on my network.

Hello, Thanks for the comment. I have tested ADrive. The free 50 GB of storage is great. The downside is you have to use a web interface in your browser, although it is easy to upload files to there service. But what the heck, 50 GB free is a great deal. It would be a great for archiving files that do not change. kyengineer Best Free Online Backup Sites Editor
I have had changed of heart about Google Docs and Skydrive using dedicated folders for there systems. The dedicated folders are not an issue as I first thought. Using both these systems you can have either 22 GB or 40 GB of online backup. If you had a Hotmail, Skydrive, or other Microsoft account you were grandfathered in with 25 GB. The backup strategy I am using is to create the Skydrive and Google Docs users folder. i.e. C:\Users\"Users Name"\Skydrive. Do not store just anything in the folders you do not want other to see such as tax returns, legal docs, etc. Storing old papers, homework(yes graduate school)pictures, resumes, etc. would not pose a problem if someone else saw them. Yea, many people have their resume posted in several places on the internet. kyengineer Best Free Online Backup Sites Editor P.S. Please be aware we only review free software and services or the free component of paid version. Your comment may not be posted if you are promoting paid software or service. Also, limited time trials are not reviewed.

A few days ago i read about Copy: https://www.copy.com/about/pr

15 GB of free storage, 5GB of additional free cloud storage for each referral, upload and share files of any size, Included data verification inspects data before Copy accepts it into the user’s cloud storage. File-level ownership is verified prior to transferring anything to other devices. Copy also allows users to share files privately using Copy’s built-in identify verification. works across Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux computers and offers mobile device support for Apple iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad) and Android, with Windows Mobile coming soon.

Too good to be true, but is worth to check it.

Hey, Thanks for the comment. I'll check it out. It appears free 15 GB may be the new norm for free online storage and backup. kyengineer Category Editor.

I would actually read their policies carefully in terms of privacy (and lack of it). I found that Copy is not my cup of tea.

Hello all. Just a reminder this web site is devoted to free programs and services. I am afraid any comments that direct the viewer to a site that promotes/reviews paid service will not be displayed.
Google is now 15 GB. I have it listed as #9. It is worth checking out. Skydrive is #2 because of 7 GB of storage. I am going to have to re-rank Skydrive because of Google Drives 15 GB of storage kyengineer

I share with you all 2 interesting articles about the subject with some services which are not listed here.

The Top 8 Free Online File Storage Sites:
http://socialtimes.com/top-15-free-online-file-storage-sites-2_b117246

Supersize your free cloud storage to 100GB or more:
http://www.pcworld.com/article/2037131/supersize-your-free-cloud-storage...

The Best Cloud Storage Solutions:
http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2413556,00.asp

Hello Palmorais Thanks for the comments. I just read the first article and they list Evernote for cloud storage. I use Evernote, but I never thought of it as a cloud storage platform. I'll have to think about if for cloud storage kyengineer Category editor

How come you've never included Mega.co.nz? Sure, it's from Megaupload, which is having some current legal problems, but Mega has 50Mb free, highly encrypted storage, a really good UI -- currently it's my favourite, as opposed to Surdoc, which advertises startup of 100Mb, but which is NOT secure (if you store files for others to share) and THE WORST UI I've ever seen of any service -- you're only guessing what file is being uploaded at any particular time, and how it's going.

50mb ? finally i found a place to store my 10 MP3s in the cloud. awesome.

Thanks for the comment. I'll check it out.
I'll add it to the list.

Hello kyengineer,

Would you mind taking a look at Cyphertite? It is a highly encrypted / zero knowledge backup, with 8GB available for free.
www.cyphertite.com

Hello SVTMarkB, Thanks for the suggestion. I will review the service and add it to the list. I just looked at Cyphertite WEB site. It lead me to the Conformal Web site. I am assuming Conformal is the owner of Cyphertite. After reading the "About" page Conformal have several interesting people running the company. Just to let you know, each site I review, I download and install in virtual box on my PC before writing a review. This usually take a month or two of testing. I think Cyphertite may be upping the anti. Most services offer 5 GB of storage. This service is raising it to 8 GB. kyengineer.

Thanks for your consideration Kyengineer, and I understand the timeline to review.

Yes Conformal Systems is the software developer, and at this point Cyphertite is their flagship multi-platform software. They have other open source software available to the public as well, focused on web security and tracking.

SVTMarkB

Hello All. I have just added Wuala to the list. kyengineer Category Editor

Just to let you guys know adrive.com gives 50gb storage free for a basic plan. Maybe check it out if you want.

Thanks for the comment. Are you using A drive? If so can you let us know what you think about it. This aids in writing reviews. It is #7 on the list. kyengineer Category Editor Best Free Online Backup Sites
This is a cloud based storage service that has been reported by rob on this web site. See link below. I have signed up for the service to test it, but I have not been granted access to the service. http://www.techsupportalert.com/content/want-100gb-free-cloud-based-stor...

Hey dude,

Just thought I'd mention that although "Box.net" only offer 5GB of storage free, they regularly have 25 and 50GB promotions (I got 50). And now the Boxsync app is available for free accounts it seems to also be a good option. Speed-wise, I ran it side-by-side with SugarSync and they almost finished simultaneously. The downsides are no encryption for the free accounts (well I don't think so anyway) and you can't simply select any folder. It is for the latter point that I use SugarSync for all of my documents, but Box.net for the big stuff that doesn't need too much folder structure (like my pictures). Nevertheless, I thought it was still a good option when you consider that 50GB is possible available. Can I just ask if you were aware of this one and if so, why it didn't make the list?? Am I missing something that might come to bite me later on??

Thanks

Hey to you, Thanks for the comment. You listed both the pros & cons for the product. Do you know how long the site/service has been in operation. I am familiar with promotions. I have been able to increase my free storage by promotions. I don't mention promotions as part of the review because I reviewing only the storage that is initially available for free. I believe the promotions are primarily for the paying customers and I don't want to bring attention to the free customers increasing their storage for free. As for box.net not on the list. That a fair question. Before I recommend a service I test it on a virtual machine. Box.net is on my list of 31 different online storage sites. I select the sites/services to test based on reader/s suggestions. Since you ask about it II will add box.net to my test machine. I am currently testing Wuala and Google Docs. kyengineer Category Editor Best Free Online Backup Sites

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