The information you rely on to run your daily operations – from tax and payroll figures to client and vendor files – is essential to your ability to stay in business. If you were to experience a sudden loss of all that information today, do you have a safety net that can quickly and reliably restore lost data?
Business online backup services provide that safety net. These services back up your data either to the cloud or in the cloud and with on-site hardware, enabling you to pull copies of your important data, whether it's recovering a file you accidentally deleted or restoring all the data housed on your server following a catastrophic crash. Some also allow you to share files and edit on the cloud.
We examined 22 different online backup solutions, from cloud storage for files to complete geo-redundant backups. We narrowed the list to 10 services based on services that primarily cater to smaller businesses with simpler features. However, some, like Microsoft Azure and Acronis, cater to businesses with more complex data backup needs.
If you only want cloud-sharing services, check out our reviews here. These services have lower capacity and greater emphasis on sharing, although there are some companies in common, such as OpenDrive. For more information about online backups and other business data issues, check out our articles on online backup and storage.
Best for Hybrid Backup
Not everyone trusts the cloud or offsite backups, but having your only backup on location is a danger as well. After all, if a disaster or electrical issue or virus attacks your computers, it could get to your local system. Hybrid backups give you the best of both worlds, storing your information "in the cloud," meaning on the online backup service's computers as well as on local hardware.
Carbonite is an excellent choice for hybrid backup because of its E2 hybrid system, which combines the speed of on-site recovery with the added security of cloud backup. Carbonite is a well-known online backup service for backing up data for personal or business use. Its business plans run from 250GB to 1TB, and it secures to Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2, which is greater than current bank standard. It offers a hybrid plan in which it supplies you with specialized hardware for back-up storage as well as storing on the cloud. The E2 supports all popular operating systems and backups, including virtualized networks and has a browser-based portal to make it easy to recover files.
Best for Collaboration and File Sharing
These days, many businesses have employees that work outside the office – some in other states or countries. Therefore, it's not only useful to have dependable backup services that work with computers outside a single office but that also offer file sharing and collaboration tools. These business online backup solutions can keep your day-to-day business operations running smoothly as well as protect you should a computer crash or a vital file get lost.
SugarSync offers some of the best file-syncing and collaboration tools along with secure, dependable backup services. It hot syncs, meaning the backup runs constantly in the background, and allows you to access any file from a web browser, the desktop app or the mobile app. It allows for file versioning, so if someone overwrites something important, you can go back to the previous version. You can even share files via social media. It also employs TLS encryption for extra security.
One of the great benefits of small business online backup solutions is the ability to "set it and forget it." SugarSync for Business operates in this way, performing continuous backup that updates your business data any time it's changed and also ensuring those changes are synced across all of your connected devices – desktops, laptops, mobile devices, etc.
Best for Complex Systems or High Security Needs
Some small businesses have big online backup needs. If you are in an industry with stringent privacy or security requirements or have complex computer usage that involves an IT staff, then you may need a business backup service that goes beyond simply syncing and storing your files. Some services have HIPAA or ISO certifications so they can handle sensitive data in accordance with industry standards. Others work with non-American businesses and meet standards for the European Union and elsewhere.
Microsoft Azure is not for a small business with basic needs. Its storage and backup systems are complex, and even its smallest plans allow for the backup of over 1,000 separate machines. While this service is too big for many businesses, we recommend it for the extreme care it takes in protecting data, with 140 storage centers all over the world, geo-redundant storage in separate locations, TLS 1.2 encryption, and a plethora of certificates for meeting the security and privacy standards of multiple industries and nations.
Microsoft Azure is a full-service cloud services system that offers backup services. While not meant for small businesses with simple needs, it's a great solution for larger small businesses with IT professionals on staff. This online business backup solution offers extreme security, a huge number of machines allowed per plan and other features that make it especially useful for growing businesses needing extra protection for their computers.
Online Business Backup Services: What to Look For
If you operate a company, online business data backup should be among your fundamental concerns, regardless of company size or the amount of information you house on your computers. The following are the most important things to look for when comparing business backup services.
Not everyone needs limitless cloud storage space, but not having to worry about exceeding the limits of your account has its benefits. Some business-cloud-storage providers imply endless storage space but in fact require you to pay significantly higher rates or even add additional licenses to your account before they grant you more storage.
Keeping your data secure is a crucial feature of a good online backup service. Data should be encrypted prior to leaving your computer and should be safeguarded against attack once it reaches its destination. The best small business backup solutions also house your data in two separate locations for added security.
What is Geo-Redundant Storage? Online backup services store to physical servers, but those with geo-redundant storage store data on two server farms. Thus, if a natural disaster or other problem takes down one, your data is still safe. When looking at geo-redundant storage, ask the locations of the server farms; after all, it's hardly worth storing on two servers if they are across the street from each other.
Note on PCI/DSS encryption: While 128-bit bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is acceptable and 256-bit SSL better, these are outdated systems. The Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, which sets the standard for transferring private data on the internet even beyond the credit card industry, is upgrading the standard to TLS 1.0 or greater.
Look for backup services that let you choose when data backups occur. If you have more than one computer in your business network, look for sharing features and the ability to connect more than one computer without having to purchase additional licenses. Find out how long after deleting a file you have to recover it, how many previous versions are retained and whether you can revert to older versions of updated files.
If you use your smartphone or tablet for business purposes, having remote access to your cloud-stored data is crucial. Look for a comprehensive mobile experience, such as remote access and editing from a mobile device. Some services even let you back up your smartphones as well.
Help & Support
If you operate your business 24 hours a day, look for services that offer 24/7 support so you can minimize your downtime. Also pay attention to how thorough a service's online knowledgebase is, the presence of training videos or how-to documents and forums.
Business backup services are more than an insurance policy against disaster. In addition to safeguarding critical business data, many provide you with useful administration tools that help you manage workflow and make daily operations run more smoothly. Be sure to scrutinize all of the features a service offers before making your final decision.
Contributing Reviewer: Jill Bowers