If you are thinking about making use of a cloud backup service then one of the most important questions to ask yourself is whether you will require unlimited cloud storage or not!
This is an important question to ask, choosing a service with a limited storage allocation could mean costly upgrades or the need to switch to another service further down the line, on the other hand, paying for unlimited storage when it is not needed could mean you are receiving poor value for money whilst limiting your choice of available providers unnecessarily!
What is Unlimited Cloud Backup?
When cloud backup providers refer to an unlimited product, they are usually referring to the size of your total backup! This means, regardless of whether you have 5GB or 5TB to backup, an unlimited plan would continue working fine and provide a backup service in both cases.
Unlimited will very rarely apply to any other aspects of the service in such cases, for example, an unlimited service will usually only provide unlimited storage for a single device with any other devices requiring a separate subscription of their own (hence why using unlimited cloud backups can get expensive).
On the other hand, many cloud backup providers with a set storage allocation for the entire account (e.g. 500GB) will allow multiple (or even an unlimited) devices to connect to the account for no additional cost providing the total amount of storage for the account is pooled between these devices (so, not unlimited storage in this case).
Who is Unlimited Cloud Backup Ideal for?
As we have seen above, unlimited cloud backup could be expensive if you only use a relatively small amount of storage and have several devices to keep backed up (in which case it might be better looking at a could backup service which supports multiple devices all sharing a fixed allocation of cloud storage).
Cloud backup solutions with fixed allocations of storage are also more suited to those whose backup size doesn’t grow much over time (e.g. home users who only occasionally add a few pictures or word documents to their device every now and then).
On the other hand, if you regularly add files to your device, for example, you work as a photographer, videographer, developer etc. then the continual growth in the number of files you might need to keep backed-up could become something of a concern. In cases such as these, an unlimited cloud backup solution will alleviate any concerns coming from running out of backup space, having to potentially pay for upgrades or otherwise having to migrate all of your data to another service provider at some point down the line due to storage limits!
Things to Look Out for with Unlimited Cloud Backup
Unfortunately, when many cloud providers use the word “unlimited”, they are often referring only to one specific part of their service, often times there will still be some limitations to an unlimited service (often including a “reasonable usage” clause which usually allows providers to exclude any customers they feel are unfairly taking advantage of the service).
Common things to look out for include policies on how external hard drive backups are handled, how long file version retention is set to and any limitations on the size of individual files or file types which can be backed up automatically by the service.
I have listed a few areas of concern to be aware of below:
External Hard Drive Backups:
One thing to be really careful of when using an unlimited cloud backup service is how said provider will handle the backing-up of external hard drives!
I have recently written a more detailed piece on this (click here to read) which explains in more detail how you could get caught out if you are using such a cloud backup service to backup an external hard drive.
Basically, most providers will expect you to have your external drive connected to your PC or Mac at least one every 30 days for it to stay included as a part of the cloud backup. If you backup you external drive and then store it away for more than 30 days you might not be protected with certain cloud backup providers, so be very careful here!
* Basically, as of time of writing, Crashplan for Small Business is the only unlimited cloud backup product which supports backing up of external hard drives connected to a system AND will keep them backed-up even if the drive isn’t regularly connected to your PC (or even connected ever again for that matter).
File Version Retention:
File version retention is, basically, the number of old versions which are kept for any files backed up on your device (so, this could mean, for example, you can retrieve a version of a file from several months ago should you need to).
Some provider might offer unlimited storage space for your backup as a whole but have specific limits on these retention periods (for example, in the case of Carbonite, they offer unlimited cloud storage overall but only keep the latest 12 versions of a file).
Most people will only need a relatively small file version retention period (6 months or approximately 10 previous versions should be ok for most PC users), if you do, for whatever reason, need longer or even infinite file version retention then you should look for a service which specifically offers this (not all providers do, even for an additional fee).
Finally, one of the other big things to watch out for are limits on individual files, such limits could see files not being backed up because they are over a certain size or because they are of a certain file type (for example, on their cheapest plan at time of writing, Carbonite do not automatically select any files larger than 4GB as a part of the backup set, these must be manually selected by the user to be included in the backup set).
Also excluded by many providers are specified locations such as the users “app data” and “program files” folders (and often with good reason). Should you for any reason want to make sure files in any of these more obscure locations are backed up then be sure to add such locations manually to your backup set when using such unlimited cloud backup solutions!
Our Favourite Unlimited Cloud Backup Providers
In this final section of this guide I will be looking at some of the favourite cloud providers which offer unlimited storage as per the reviews on BestBackupReviews.com!
Please note that the score given should only be used as a guide and that the product with the highest score might not necessarily be the best for your own individual set of backup requirements! As such please also feel free to check our own in-depth reviews of the listed products for more information.
Backblaze has for a long time being a favourite backup solution on BestBackupReviews.com, to start with it does offer unlimited cloud storage, unlimited file version retention, secure AES 256-bit file encryption and is also incredibly easy to use and get started with on either PC or Mac!
Add onto the fact this software is so easy to use is the excellent pricing which sees unlimited backup available from just $7/month per PC (or $70 / year or $130 / 2 years if you want to commit for an even better deal).
In-fact, getting backed-up with Backblaze Backup couldn’t get much easier, simply sign-up for an account (and take advantage of the 15 day free trial), download the installer and once the app is installed it will begin backing-up you important files straight away (the special installer will already be pre-loaded with your account details) – Absolutely fantastic!
As was mentioned in the guide above there are still a few things to be aware of with Backblaze!
Firstly they have a time limit on external hard drives which sees them removed form the backup set if they are disconnected form the main device for more than 30days, if this is a concern you will need to make provisions for regularly re-connecting your device or, preferably, leaving it permanently connected to alleviate this issue.
Secondly, although the “auto pilot” approach to selecting files for backup will work absolutely fine for most users, if you do need files backed-up form unusual places on your device (for example in the “Program Files” folder) then you will need to be careful to ensure such files are manually selected and are being backed-up ok!
Overall, Backblaze is a top choice and one I am always happy to recommend to those who just want to get their device backed-up with the minimal of fuss, Click Here to take advantage of the 15 day free trial and see for yourself!
2. Crashplan for Small Business
Despite having “for Small Business” in their name, Crashplan is actually open to both home and business customers alike and offers one of the best, truly unlimited cloud backup services available on the market as of today!
What makes Crashplan such a great choice, despite being slightly more expensive than our top choice, Backblaze, is that it allows multiple external hard drives to be backed up with no time limits on them being re-connected to the device to remain backed-up! For some people this will be a non-issue, granted, but if you are someone who makes extensive use of multiple external drives then this feature alone could make Crashplan a standout choice!
Other features include unlimited file version retention by default, optional AES2 256-bit encryption, client software available for both Windows and Mac and the ability to restore form within the app or from anywhere with an internet connection thanks to the web based recovery console.
Crashplan is ideal for those wanting a true unlimited service, including keeping external hard drives archived over the long term. You can get a 15 day free trial of Crashplan by clicking here!
3. Carbonite Home Backup
Carbonite have for a long time been a cloud backup favourite and with unlimited cloud backup available form the equivalent of just $4.99 / month, it is not hard to see why!
With the keen pricing aside, Carbonite provide numerous useful features including secure, automatic and encrypted cloud backups plus the ability access files form any device and backup external hard drives with an upgrade to the Plus or Prime plans respectively.
Unfortunately, there are a couple of small issues to be aware of when using Carbonite!
Firstly, if including an external hard drive in you backup then be aware that there is a 30 period in which the drive must be attached to the device at least once for it to remain a part of the backup set. Secondly, a maximum of only 12 previous versions of old files will be kept by Carbonite, whilst this might be limiting for some users Carbonite do mitigate this issue slightly by keeping the newest 3 versions for an infinite amount of time.
And finally, when using the Basic plan, any video files must be manually added to the backup set (as must any file over 4GB in size to any version of Carbonite). If you use either the Plus or Premium version then videos will be included in the backup set automatically.
Pricing wise, Carbonite starts at just $83.99 / year for the Basic plan (which excludes external hard drive backups). The Plus and Prime version both go further than the Basic version including automatic video and external hard drive backup and are priced at $119.99 / year 149.99 / year respectively.
Carbonite offers great value to both home and business customers wanting to get an unlimited cloud backup in place with the minimum of fuss. You can get a 15 day free trial of Carbonite by clicking here!