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With the recent increase in remote work, now is a great time to try out the cloud for backup.
One of the best ways to get started with cloud backups is to try one of the many available free services. You can sample a variety of providers to get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses before investing in one specific paid product.
Choices for free cloud backup
The best free cloud backup options are somewhat limited. Even so, there are some providers you should consider.
IDrive might be the best known of the free cloud backup providers. It offers a free basic plan that includes up to 5 GB of storage. The company also offers personal plans starting at $52.12 per year for 5 TB or $74.62 per year for 10 TB.
IDrive also provides business plans, but these plans cost more than the personal plans and generally include less storage. The 250 GB plan starts at $74.62 per year, and a 1.25 TB plan starts at $374.62 per year.
Jottacloud is another popular option for users looking for free cloud backup services. Jottacloud's free personal plan comes with 5 GB of storage and allows for a single user account. The company also offers a personal plan with unlimited cloud storage for 7.5 Euros (about $9) per month, but it throttles upload speeds if the storage consumption exceeds 5 TB. The company also has multiuser personal plans available, starting at 6.5 Euros per month for 1 TB of storage.
Jottacloud has a free business subscription that includes 5 GB of space and supports up to two users. Other business plans range between 8.99 Euros and 29.99 Euros per month. These plans include 1 TB of storage and vary in terms of the number of users that they support. Extra storage costs 6.5 Euros per month per TB.
The community option
Those who are looking for a 100% free and practical platform should consider a different approach. Rather than looking for a provider that offers free storage space, the best free cloud backup may ultimately be an open source or "community edition" backup application that you pair with free cloud storage. This could provide you with more storage space and fewer limitations than you would encounter with a free cloud backup product.
Several backup providers offer open source products -- options such as Duplicity. Duplicity is a command-line backup utility that creates encrypted tarballs, which you can write to free cloud storage. Those who prefer a GUI-based tool might consider the Community Edition of Veeam Backup & Replication. It can protect up to 10 workloads and perform an unlimited number of ad hoc backups.
A number of cloud providers offer free storage, which you can pair with these and other tools. Google, for instance, offers 15 GB of free storage on Google Drive. Similarly, Microsoft provides 5 GB of free storage on OneDrive, and Box offers 10 GB of free storage.
Limitations of free cloud backups
Even the best free cloud backup services almost always have significant limitations. The most common of these limitations is capacity. Backup providers usually only give their customers a relatively small amount of free backup storage before requiring them to pay for additional space.
Other limitations vary widely from one provider to the next. Some providers, for example, license their free products only for personal use, requiring business users to adopt a paid offering. Other providers might restrict the types of data that you can back up to their free product. Providers also sometimes throttle their free cloud backups to keep bandwidth available for their paying customers.