Speed: Speed, in many cases, is far more dependent upon your broadband connection than that of the online service, though the geographical location of the storage and the equipment in between can make a significant difference. Check the location of the data servers if speed is important to you. Or, just give the trial a whirl and see if you can live with it.
The Hive Five is based on reader nominations. As with most Hive Five posts, if your favorite was left out, it's not because we hate it—it's because it didn't get the nominations required in the call for contenders post to make the top five. We understand it's a bit of a popularity contest, but if you have a favorite, we want to hear about it. Have a suggestion for the Hive Five? Send us an email at [email protected]
Free or paid, we highly recommend that you back up at least your essential data against theft, malware or ransomware, and natural disasters, not to mention user error. Even if you work online, a local backup is a lot quicker to restore. And this goes beyond PCs: We get a lot of emails asking how to get data back from a stolen phone—the users generally don’t like the answer.
Since you're probably going to be paying for a backup service for years, cost is an important factor to consider. All the services rounded up here are subscription-based, but they partition their features and fees differently, so it's worth comparing plans closely before committing to one. Most construct pricing tiers based on the amount of cloud storage included, however, or by the number of devices you can use with an account. A few services offer permanent free accounts, but those plans impose paltry storage limits or restrict key features to the paid versions. Watch out for file-size upload limits as well.
Backup software: We run each program through the various types of backups it’s capable of. This is largely to test reliability and hardware compatibility, but we time two: an approximately 115GB system image (two partitions), and a roughly 50GB image created from a set of smaller files and folders. We then mount the images and test their integrity via the program’s restore functions. We also test the USB boot drives created by the programs.