Sad but true: You will eventually spill coffee on your laptop. An online backup service will ensure that your precious files live on. Which of these four is right for you?
The whole family needs backing up
Annual base price: $150 for unlimited GB on up to 10 machines.
How it excels: The cheapest option for families of three or more, CrashPlan is also the most customizable. The program scans your computer and copies files constantly, but you decide how often it sends any new information to the company’s servers. Online backup programs do tap your battery, but you can set CrashPlan to stop running whenever your laptop’s power gets low.
Platforms: PC/Mac, iPhone, Android, Windows Phone
The backups are just for you, but other people need access to your files all the time
Annual base price: 2GB free; $100 per extra 100GB.
How it excels: SpiderOak is the only service in our survey that not only backs up files, but also allows you to grant others (secure) access to your data. Want to share the kids’ photos with your parents? Just select the right folder and SpiderOak will put it on a password-protected web page. We also liked the desktop “log,” which shows when a file was backed up or shared.
Platforms: PC/Mac, iPhone, Android
The backups are just for you, others rarely access your files, and the service needs to be simple
Annual base price: $60 for unlimited GB on one PC.
How it excels: Carbonite has the simplest instructions. Say you accidentally delete a file. Click the “InfoCenter” icon, and the program walks you through the process of downloading it. Carbonite also color-codes files, so you can see what’s been copied. While all the plans have apps that let you access your stored files, Carbonite’s Android version is the only one that backs up photos and videos directly from your phone.
Platforms: PC/Mac, iPhone, Android, BlackBerry
The backups are just for you, others rarely access your files, and the service had better be fast
Annual base price: $50 for unlimited data; add $50 for each additional computer.
How it excels: Backblaze is the most affordable choice for people with a ton of files. The program also lets you control how fast your data moves. To upload a big file ASAP, set Backblaze to use all your available bandwidth. Need to complete other tasks at the same time? Dial it down and you’ll have a speedy Internet connection even when Backblaze is backing up your machine.
Platforms: PC/Mac, iPhone