Ensuring a small business is adequately protected by means of having all of its important data backed-up and saved securely onto the cloud is of vital importance in this technological age.
Whilst it could be argued that all important data should be backed-up as a matter of course, this process can be especially important given that many smaller businesses might not be able to continue operating after a catastrophic data loss incident or, likewise, from the devastating results of a cyber-attack which could leave backups as the only means of recovery.
Whilst plenty of commercial backup software does exist as of today, much of it is aimed either at larger corporations (and can be expensive to purchase and complicated to configure) or at individual home users and thus lacking various business orientated and management features. Many larger companies also have access to dedicated IT support personnel to assist in operating and configuring such backup software as well, something many smaller businesses simply don’t have the resources for either.
So, with all of the above in mind, in this guide I will be not only looking at some of the best cloud backup software suited towards small business users, but also discussing some best data backup practices and process whilst also addressing some common backup related pitfalls to steer clear of – vamos!
Understanding Small Business Backup
The first and most important thing to be aware of when starting to get your small business backed-up is an understanding of which data needs to be backed-up and where this data should be backed-up from. Even small businesses today will often make extensive use of multiple computers and alongside this also make use of multiple different software packages and systems, all of which require data to be stored and in-turn, backed-up.
One of the biggest issues many smaller businesses will face when making backups is, unlike larger businesses which often make use of centralised file storage systems, any data which is to be backed up could be spread out across multiple different PCs, external hard drives, USB flash drives and this could also extend out across multiple sites and even multiple countries. In-fact, if you have several employees, you could find yourself in a situation whereby each employee has their own set of files stored on their own respective PC, this means if just one of these PCs was to suffer hardware failure or damage resulting from a cyber-attack then this could result in permanent data loss for the business.
Top 5 small business cloud backup choices:
Below is a quick look at the top 5 choices mentioned in this guide, scroll down further for the full and detailed list of small business focused cloud backup services.
Remotely working employees can also bring a new challenge to the small business backup problem in that they are not physically present in any office nor might their PC or any external hard drives be easily reachable with any centralised attempt to backup company data. This means any backup solutions suitable for smaller businesses must take into account that not every PC is in the same physical building nor connected to the same local network either (a problem which has been continuing to grow in recent years thanks to the uptake in home and remote working as of late).
With all of the above in mind I will, in the next section, look at two mainstream approaches to small business backup which can be utilised for fixing these specific issues.
Common Approaches to Small Business Backup
Now we are aware that having data in multiple different locations is one of the biggest backup challenges which many small businesses might face, we can look at some common methods for solving this issue and ensuring that all data, regardless of where it resides, is always adequately backed-up and stored safely.
Centralising File Storage
One of the best ways to store and handle company documents and data, if you are not already taking advantage of this method, is to make use of a centralised file server. This could be as simple as a network attached storage (NAS) device which is connected to the same local network as any other company devices or even a dedicated file server which has been professionally configured and installed for your business.
If you have ever worked for a larger company, you will no doubt be used to working with “shared folders” or “network drives”. These shared folders (or network drives) are very similar to regular folders form the point of view of a PC user however, instead of the data stored within them being stored on a local PCs hard disk, the data is instead stored on a centralised device thus helping to simplify, amongst other things, the backing up off all company data.
NB – In cases where these centralised storage devices are being used, only the centralised storage device itself must be backed up to cloud storage in order to ensure that all company data and files from across the entire business are safe and securely stored.
A NAS device procured from a specialist provider such as QNAP or Synology could often be a great way to implement such a centralised file server solution from within a small business (and a very cost effective one at that). Best of all, both of these manufacturers previously mentioned (as do some other NAS manufacturers) support automatically backing-up the NAS device itself to a 3rd party cloud storage provider such as AWS S3 or Backblaze B2 straight out of the box (meaning such a system will effectively both simplify business operations and protect against data loss in the process).
Backing up Multiple PCs Collectively
As was previously discussed, small businesses will tend to have multiple PCs in operation collectively, devices which are usually found across multiple sites and even multiple residential premises when it comes to serving the needs of remote workers and the like. With this multiple device issue in mind, effective small business backup often requires the use of specialist backup software especially suited for small business needs and, crucially, is capable of centralising the backup process across multiple devices to ensure that all data in the business is included in the backup.
Whilst it would be possible to simply install multiple copies of stand-alone backup software across the multiple PCs found in a small business, this approach would mean business owners lose the ability to easily monitor all of the backups centrally and with this also lose the security of knowing that all data has been backed up (some employees might, for example, forget to run their backup or turn off their PC too early when a backup set hasn’t finished and so on).
With the above in mind, the key differentiator between good standalone backup software and that tuned specifically for small business users is the software’s ability to monitor the backup progress across multiple devices, on multiple sites and warn when any given device isn’t backed-up as it should be (prompting the business owner or IT administrator to act).
NB – With all of the above in mind, the backup software titles recommended for small business users further down in this article all support ease of management across multiple individual devices and this support extends to devices not necessarily being part of the same local network nor physically located in the same building or site.
Things to be Aware of with Small Business Backup
Whilst planning any small business backup strategy, there are a number issues which need to be taken into account which could help to prevent any serious backup related problems developing later on.
One of the first and most important issues to address after you have your chosen backup software in place is to check that you can actually restore some files from the backup set for real (ideally form a remote location if using cloud backup software to prove that everything is working as it should be). This type of restore testing work is actually something you should plan on doing regularly to ensure the continued correct working of your backup solution and can also help in preventing possible cases of data loss well into the future as a result.
Simply having a backup set in place which is not regularly tested for successful restores is very risky! There are a lot of things which could go wrong with a backup set, many of which might not usually be picked up, for example, correctly remembering the encryption key used for securing the data and ensuring the cloud storage subscription payments (billing) is regularly taken care of.
NB – If there is one piece of highly valuable advice I could give to any backup user, business or otherwise, it is to regally test that restores are working correctly for real (don’t simply rely on backup reports to indicate that everything has worked correctly within the backup without checking)!
Key / Password Holding
Another important consideration for small businesses backup users to think about is the securing of any data once it has been backed-up!
Using strong encryption is the most obvious way of securing such data, however, imagine you are (for whatever reason) not available when some lost data is needing to be recovered by a colleague. In such cases you might want to think about leaving a copy of the encryption key with a trusted person either inside or outside of the business should it ever be needed when you yourself are not available.
This encryption method does come with its obvious risks, of course, but also has the advantage of allowing the business to continue if, for example, you were to lose your own copy of the backup encryption key by potentially making use of this second trusted copy.
NB – Leaving encryption keys with other people brings with it a new set of risks, however, it still remains one of the best ways of ensuring the safety, privacy and integrity of any business data which is being backed-up. If there are worries of encryption keyholders accessing data when they shouldn’t be, be sure to consider a cloud-based backup solution which will log any and all attempts to access the account and any restore attempts as well!
Cost and Usability
Whilst ensuring your small business data is backed up correctly and can be accessed in a data related emergency is very important, it is also important to think about the cost of any given backup solution as this can have a big impact on finances for many smaller businesses.
Whilst a backup solution relying on a central approach to file storage might initially be costly to set-up, the ongoing costs will be relatively low and, in many cases, limited to just the costs of a 3rd party cloud storage provider used to keep the NAS device or file server itself backed up (and this is very much a recommended approach).
A software-based backup solution making use of the cloud will in many cases have little initial set-up costs to bear given no additional hardware will be needed, however, the ongoing subscription costs for such a service will almost certainly be higher than the centralised file backup approach (mentioned above) over time.
The best route to take regarding costings for a small business backup will, of course, depend upon your own business finances and what you feel the best solution for your own small business might actually be. Using a software and cloud-based approach might be more expensive over the long run (compared to using a centralised NAS device), however, with this approach might come additional functionality and security benefits (such as easily logging and monitoring usage) which could help to offset such costs.
Best Cloud Backup for Small Business FAQs
In my opinion, Acronis Cyber Protect provides the best all-round cloud backup and cyber protection solution for small businesses as of my latest reviews completed in 2023.
Whilst Acronis Cyber Protect does an excellent job of providing a very high level of data protection via the means of backing up said data to the Acronis cloud, it also provides various built-in cyber protection tools for enhanced data protection including, amongst other things, a fully featured antivirus suite.
Making use of specialist cloud backup software which is specifically aimed at small business users provides one of the most effective means for backing up business data to the cloud.
It is important to use cloud backup software tailored specifically for business usage as such software often goes over and above what regular backup software might provide. This means business focused backup software will bring many additional management and security features into the fold including those for helping to manage and monitor multiple devices form a centralised location.
Getting the most cost-effective cloud backup for a small business will, to some extent, depend upon the individual circumstances of the business itself.
Having said this, different cloud backup providers offer different approaches to small business cloud backup pricing. For example, Backblaze allow an unlimited allocation of cloud storage for a flat fee of just $7 per month (per device) making it ideal for high volumes of data whereas iDrive allow an unlimited number of devices per account for a fixed monthly fee (with a set cloud storage allocation shared between all devices connected to the account).
Yes, in fact, several popular NAS providers including QNAP and Synology provide built-in software which can assist in automatically backing up their own NAS devices to popular cloud storage services including the excellent Backblaze B2 service.
Deploying a cloud backup solution which is specifically tailored for small business users is, without doubt, one of the easiest ways of quickly getting a small business backed-up. Providers including Backblaze and Crashplan have software tailored to small business users which can be installed and set working in just a matter of minutes, thus making them both a great choice for anyone seeking an easy way of backing up small business data quickly and efficiently.
The Best Cloud Backup for Small Business of 2023
Below is a list of my current top 5 favourite cloud backup solutions for small business users as are tested and reviewed right here on BestBackupReviews.com.
Remember, any ratings given below reflect my own personal opinions and that the cloud backup software with the highest ratings might not necessarily be the best for your own small business needs. With this in mind, please refer to my detailed notes for each entry on the list for more information on the software itself and how it might help with your own individual backup requirements.
1) Acronis Cyber Protect
Cyber Protect is the leading business focused backup solution from backup industry leaders, Acronis. It is one of the leading business focused cloud backup solutions currently available as of today and combines “ready to go” cloud storage and cyber protection facilities within an excellent piece of backup software to make the process of protecting business devices as straightforward as is possible.
Combining a cloud-based backup solution suitable for multiple endpoint devices alongside a built-in cyber security solution (which includes strong AES 256-bit encryption, antivirus, patch management and URL filtering for safer web browsing) helps make this particular solution from Acronis much more than just a simple backup application. Other key features include the ability to make both file-level and full system image backups, scan said backups for malware, make use of universal restore (for restoring to different hardware), easily monitor and manage any company devices and even remotely wipe devices when applicable to do so.
Other useful small business backup features include being able to include external drives, shared drives and NAS devices in the backup set itself, the use of “backup windows” for managing bandwidth usage at certain times of day, backup replication for easily providing multiple copies of any backed-up data plus the ability to manage the Windows Defender (Microsoft Security Essentials) settings via the centralised solution as well.
Further device backup management features provided by Acronis Cyber Protect including being able to integrate the solution within Active Directly (when applicable), remotely manage security patching in applicable circumstances and even make use of advanced dashboards and shared reporting features for enhanced monitoring and protection of any devices which are connected to the service.
Acronis Cyber Protect is aimed towards small and medium business users and is priced form just $85 per device (per month) with the ability to save when purchasing 1 or 2-year plans in advance. Acronis also offer a 30-day free trial of Cyber Protect to all new uses of the service, more information on which can be found via the official Acronis website.
2) Backblaze Business Backup
Backblaze has become one of the leading cloud backup companies in recent times, mainly thanks to its excellent cloud-based backup software which makes backing up a PC, Mac OS or Linux device very quick, simple and cost effective and is, as such, ideal for small business use.
Whilst Backblaze do have a personal cloud backup offering which they are now very well known for, they do also provide a separate business focused solution with additional device management and security related features not seen in the personal solution. One of the most notable additions to this business edition is the availability of the cloud-based centralised management console, a tool ideal for any business (small or large) for easily viewing the backup status of multiple computers regardless of where they might be physically located.
Other notable features of Backblaze business backup include the backup software itself operating automatically and in real-time with very little configuration required, the Backblaze service offering unlimited cloud storage per device plus the many advantages which stem from the Backblaze “Backup Everything” approach which sees all areas of a device included in the default backup set by default (helping to ensure nothing important on a device is missed out).
Security wise and Backblaze also stands out thank to their offering of highly secure, zero-knowledge AES 256-bit encryption which is applied to all data backed-up using the service by default (and account holders can specify their own encryption keys or allow Backblaze to manage these keys centrally for enhanced ease of use). Other security features include Backblaze offering multifactor authentication for enhanced account protection, single sign on (SSO) with popular accounts including Microsoft Office 365 and Google G Guite plus all backed-up devices receiving 30-days of historic versioning by default (with unlimited historic file versioning available for an additional fee).
NB – Also available from Backblaze and worth of mention is the Backblaze B2 (S3 compatible) cloud storage service. Whilst not a full backup solution by itself, it can be used with various 3rd party backup software titles as well as by popular NAS devices (including those from market leaders QNAP and Synology) as a cloud storage resource. For more information on B2 compatible backup software, please be sure to read my guide to Best Amazon S3 Compatible Backup Software.
Backblaze Business Backup is priced form just $7 / month (per device) and includes unlimited cloud storage by default, paying for the service annually (at $70) or every 2-years (at $130) also help to make this solution even more cost effective. More information on Backblaze Business Backup as well as the free 15-day free trial can be found via the official Backblaze website.
3) Crashplan for Small Business
Crashplan is another highly suitable and business focused backup cloud solution. This is thanks to the inclusion of unlimited cloud storage per device, unlimited historic versioning of files plus a central management console for easily managing multiple business devices for the amazingly low price of just $10 per month.
In-fact, since discontinuing their “home” backup solution a few years ago, Crashplan has become a wholly business focused backup provider aiming, amongst other things, to help simplify the cloud backup process for smaller business users. Of course, you can still use this as an individual with a single device if you want to, but by including many of the business orientated features as a default part of the cloud backup solution itself, Crashplan naturally becomes an ideal choice for smaller businesses with multiple devices to both manage and keep backed-up.
Some key features of the Crashplan service (unlimited cloud storage and unlimited file version history apart) include easy install and configuration (for Windows, Mac OS and Linux devices), end-user file restore capabilities and new device migration facilities plus the ability to recover deleted items up to 90-days in the past (unlimited versioning only applies to non-deleted / modified files).
Security wise and Crashplan secure all data with strong, zero-knowledge end-to-end encryption by default (making use of the highly secure AES 256-bit standard). Other security related features of the service include multifactor authentication for enhanced account protection, immutable backup storage (for enhanced ransomware protection) plus the ability to make use of Single sign-on (SSO) on the Crashplan enterprise plans.
Crashplan for Small Business is priced at a simple fee of just $10 per month (per device) with unlimited cloud storage and unlimited historic file versioning enabled on all accounts by default. More information on Crashplan itself plus the 30-day free trial can be found via the official Crashplan website.
4) Carbonite Business Backup
Carbonite has for a long time been well-known as a safe and reliable cloud backup provider, a service which they offer to both individual customers as well as small businesses users via their special business focused backup plans.
The Carbonite Safe Core plan is one such plan (amongst various other options on offer form Carbonite) which provides the ability to backup up to 25 devices to the cloud with 250GB cloud storage included. Available on all Carbonite business focused plans is also the use of a centrally managed admin console plus the ability to integrate the service with Active Directory for enhanced user management amongst various other cloud backup features.
Security wise and Carbonite provides between 128-bit and 256-bit default encryption of all data stored upon the cloud plus support for remote device wiping for lost or stolen devices on selected business plans as well.
Carbonite pricing starts from just $24 / month for the Professional Core plan which provides 250GB of cloud storage for use between up to 25 devices. Other plans including those offering support for backing up Windows server and those with higher allocations of cloud storage are also available, more information on which, plus the free trials for the service, can be found via the official Carbonite website.
5) iDrive Small Business Backup
iDrive are another leading cloud backup provider with both a personal backup offering alongside one specifically designed and suited to the needs and requirements of small business users.
Featuring remote device management via an easy-to-use web-based console, a lightweight backup client, single sign-on functionality, strong 256-bit encryption plus 24/7 technical support amongst many other business-related features, iDrive is potentially a great choice for many small business backup customers.
Other useful features found within iDrive include the ability to backup multiple devices and device types including Windows and Mac OS devices (plus iOS and Android smartphones) within the cloud storage allocation provided to the account. Also available is the use of the iDrive Express service (for performing large restores via a mailed hard drive), use of single sign-on (SSO) services plus the ability to also include servers on the business focused plans as well.
Better still, since iDrive for small business is priced upon the amount of cloud storage allocated to the account rather than the number of computers included, this means if you have a lot of devices but a relatively small cloud storage requirement then this solution could work out very cost effective for many small business users.
iDrive Business starts at just $99.5 / year for unlimited users and devices sharing a 250GB cloud storage pool. Plans featuring more features and larger allocations of cloud storage are also available and more pricing information can be found via the official iDrive website.
The Best Cloud Backup for Small Business Summary
Small business backup can be a very complicated issue to address, at even the best of times when issues relating to budgets and timescales are less of a worry then they might otherwise be. It is a topic which encompasses many issues including users working across multiple physical sites and on multiple different devices and operating systems with the managing and monitoring of these devices also proving an issue in its own right as well.
Thankfully, there are now several prominent cloud backup providers offering solutions specifically tailored for small business use. These solutions not only provide the means for easily installing, configuring and operating backup software across multiple end user devices (regardless of operating system or the devices’ physical location), but also include special tools for monitoring the backup process and allowing business owners and IT administrators to see when certain devices might be at risk of not being backed up.
Overall, given how much these small business cloud backup solutions have advanced over the years, I would recommend small business owners to take the time to assess several of the providers mentioned above and assess how cloud backup specifically tailored to small business users can be of great help in ensuring data remains backed-up and secured at all times.