PROS / The overall value is very high.
CONS / The service doesn't own the servers.
VERDICT / The Zoolz family plan is one of the best cloud data backup apps because it provides an excellent balance of value and performance.
Based in London, Zoolz is a cloud data backup service with a worldwide reach through a partnership with Amazon Web Services. This partnership allows the service to offer excellent value for 1TB of storage shared between five computers for $79.99 per year. In our performance tests, the file-backup and restoration speeds were excellent. In addition, the ease of use for both phases of the software was near the top of our evaluations.
The best data-backup services must balance value with performance and usability. To evaluate value, we started by analyzing the subscription costs of over 30 services. We looked primarily at the annual cost per computer to back up 1TB for a large family with five computers, a small family using three computers and an individual. After eliminating overpriced services, we tested the backup and restore speed of the remaining 23 services and evaluated the ease of use for the desktop app. In every phase of this process, Zoolz proved to be one of the best-performing apps with one of the highest values. For these reasons, Zoolz earns the Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award for best online data backup service.
Price & Value
Zoolz offers four subscription plans: Basic, Plus, Family and Heavy. The Basic plan is just 100GB and costs $14.99 per year. The Plus plan comes with 500GB for three users at an annual cost of $49.99. The Family plan comes with 1TB of storage for five users at $79.99 per year. The Heavy plan comes with 4TB for five users at $299.99 per year. For the purposes of our review, we evaluated the Family plan.
At $79.99 for five users, the Family plan costs about $16 per computer each year. For relative value, it received a B+ for the large-family part of our cost evaluation. Only a few services provide a higher value at this level. For a small family with three computers, the plan costs less than $27 per computer each year, which put it in the B range for our evaluation. For an individual, the Family plan still provides high value, receiving a B+ for value. The data cloud backup services with higher values, IDrive and Amazon Cloud Drive, cost about $60 for the same amount of storage and users.
Zoolz received a B- for relative backup speed in our tests. To find the backup speeds of each service, we ran multiple tests in the morning, afternoon, evening, night and weekend. After all tests were completed, we calculated the average MB-per-minute rate and applied this rate to 1TB. At the rate we recorded, Zoolz would complete a 1-TB backup in about 16 days. In comparison, the average rate in our review as 21 days, but the fastest speed in our review was less than five days. Still, while Zoolz isn't the fastest app, it was still five days above average, which is significant.
Zoolz earned a B+ for its ease of use with the backup process. There are four steps to initiating a backup set, which isn't the fewest steps but is definitely above average. The easiest apps allow you to initiate a backup set in one to three clicks. The average number of steps in our evaluation of Zoolz was between six and seven. The interface is very uncomplicated with only three tabs, which makes it very easy to navigate. A novice user isn't going to easily make a mistake or get lost.
One of the great features of the desktop app is the local backup feature, which allows you to back up to local devices or even a friend's computer. It's generally good practice to back up to a local device in addition to the cloud. This feature allows you to do both in one app.
For relative restore speed, Zoolz was given a B+. Much like the backup-speed tests, we ran multiple restore sets at all hours of the day and weekend to account for variables in network fluctuations. After averaging the MB-per-minute rate, we applied the rate to calculate the approximate number of days it would take to restore 1TB. With Zoolz, the rate suggests it could restore 1TB in about 6.5 days. While this is still days slower than the fastest speed we recorded, it's more than twice as fast as the average speed, which was about 15 days.
For ease of use, Zoolz's restore process received a B-. The app has some minor quirks that pose some learning-curve challenges to a novice. While we counted just four steps to the process, which was above average, the app launches a second app for restoring files. This is confusing initially. Another downside, however minor, is the inability to access the settings from the restore app. Instead, you have to go back to the first app. Still, despite these issues, the learning curve is still above average.
As with most online data backup services, Zoolz protects your data with 256-bit AES encryption, both while the files are in transit to and from the servers and while they are at rest on the servers. One of the best security features is the option to own and maintain your encryption key, which means that you are the only person who can access and view your files.
One potential downside to Zoolz's security is that it doesn't own and maintain its servers. Instead, the service rents servers from Amazon Web Services. Zoolz argues that this makes its service more reliable against hardware failures and security risks because of Amazon's extensive infrastructure. And there is some truth to this argument, especially since Amazon is highly respected for its security protocols. However, services that own and maintain their servers have a more invested interest in security and privacy because they are wholly responsible for any breaches. And responsibility is the key factor here. As such, we still consider this to be an important security criterion, though a minor one.
Help & Support
Zoolz provides excellent support. You can contact support representatives by phone, email and live chat, when available. The service also provides tutorials and FAQs on its website. These help minimize learning curves and allow you to make the most of the available features. Currently, the only missing support feature is a user forum.
Zoolz earns our Bronze Award for the best online data backup service because it combines high value with excellent and reliable performance. At just $79.99 per year for 1TB and five users, the Family plan is one of the most valuable subscriptions in our review. In addition, while it wasn't the fastest app in our performance tests, it was well above average in both the backup and the restore phases. It also proved to be one of the easier apps to use. The one downside, however minor, is the fact that Amazon owns the servers that your data is stored on instead of Zoolz.