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5 Best Online Backups for Mac

UPDATE: You’ll find a more up-to-date list of online backups for Mac on our sister site, BestBackups.com.
Everybody seems to want to give you (or sell you) online backup these days, and there’s significant cross-over between “traditional” online backup services and cloud syncing services, such as Apple’s iCloud, Microsoft’s OneDrive, and Dropbox.

In this top five roundup article, we concentrate on online services that are truly designed for “old-school” backups, in the traditional sense.With lines between local and cloud-based storage becoming increasingly blurred, it makes sense to spend a little time thinking about what that really means – and what it doesn’t. Conventional wisdom has long dictated that individuals and companies alike should keep multiple backups of important data. Nowadays, due to services like iCloud, non-technical users have (subjectively) become a little complacent, assuming everything is backed up without their intervention.

The services we highlight here are those we recommend to people who (quite rightly) take their backup responsibilities seriously. They’re for people who want a rock-solid backup system, probably to complement a local backup method and / or some kind of consumer cloud sync service. We’ve also given serious consideration to what exactly happens to your data when it’s backed up, how it’s encrypted, and who could theoretically access it.

Rarely a week goes by nowadays without a new online privacy scandal, so you will find solutions here that have been designed around protecting your privacy. When it comes to the global security services, it’s fair to say there are no guarantees, and if you’re “up to no good” online, you could one day be asked to reveal your passwords, but some of the services here are made in such a way that even the backup provider has no access to your data. It’s worth remembering that some of the biggest online names make no such promises. Even if you’re a major proponent of the “nothing to hide, nothing to fear” philosophy, it surely makes good sense to choose a provider who pledges to keep your information as private as possible.

One thing worth noting when choosing between these solutions is that all of them have their merits and (in some cases) shortcomings too. As they are all very cheap (or free) to try out, it’s worth experimenting with more than one so that you end up with a solution that best fits your individual needs and priorities.

Finally, we should point out that we’ve carefully chosen products that work well on a Mac, and don’t ignore Apple’s platform or treat its implementation as an afterthought.

For loads more on backup solutions, check out our the Ultimate Online Backup Guide.

Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

CrashPlan Logo $ 4 / mo

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2

BackBlaze Logo $ 5 / mo

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3

Wuala Logo 99 cents / mo Shut down Visit Site >

4

SpiderOak Logo $ 0.00 / mo

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5

Tresorit Logo $ 0.00 / mo

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Winner

CrashPlan

4,9/5

CrashPlan Logo

Key Points: Provides lots more functionality than many other services, Strong encryption, but UK data centers may peturb some users. Lots of package options and good Mac client software

CrashPlan does rather more that the other services we’ve mentioned. For a start, it’s not purely an online backup service. Instead, it’s a comprehensive backup package that encompasses local backups, personally controlled remote backups (i.e. to other sites or locations of your own), and cloud backups to Crashplan’s servers. It’s the latter that we focus on here.

Crashplan looks quite simple on the surface, but becomes more involved once you delve into the options. It really has tried to provide “all things to all people,” with everything from personal options to small business and enterprise packages.

In this privacy-conscious age, most backup service providers talk about security, and Crashplan are no different. They state that data is encrypted before leaving your computer and that passwords are never sent in plain text. However (unless we missed it) they don’t say that their employees have no access to your data or the means to de-encrypt it. Conspiracy nuts may therefore prefer to steer clear.

Crashplan

The Mac client software is simple and uncluttered, which is impressive given the features on offer. It’s also admirable that the vendor, Code 42, allows unrestricted access to all the features and only charges for data storage on its own servers.

We found nothing to dislike about Crashplan, and if you plan to set up local and remote backups as well as cloud backups it’s the perfect all-in-one solution. The only things that might put you off are the US-based servers and the lack of Dropbox style sync functionality. These issues are not significant enough to keep Crashplan from our “top spot,” and the rare availability of telephone support is an added bonus too, making this a worthy winner.

Visit Crashplan »


2nd place

BackBlaze

4,9/5

BackBlaze Logo

Key Points: Backs up your entire Mac, not just individual files / folders, Not the most private service available, Great ease-of-use, Innovative features, such as the “FedEx a drive” service.

It’s always nice to find a solution that sets out to do things differently, and Backblaze is undoubteldly one of them in two key ways.

Firstly, it’s a backup service in the true sense, and is intended to back up EVERYTHING on your machine. From the first page of the provider’s website, it’s made clear that you “don’t have to pick files and folders,” which will be good news for many, as it’s often easy to miss a crucial silo of data, or neglect to add a new folder to a backup job.

The second distinguishing feature is that, in the event of a system failure, Backblaze will ship a hard drive containing your data to you by courier.

The cynics amongst you are probably wondering where the trade-off comes for this extended functionality, and it’s fair to say it’s when it comes to privacy. Although Backblaze use 2048 bit RSA encryption, they do have access to your data, unless you opt to “secure your private key file with your own password,” which is something they don’t recommend. When setting their position on the scale between ease-of-use and privacy, Backblaze seem to have erred towards the former option – which is just fine if that’s your priority too.

BackBlaze

When it comes to the Mac implementation of Backblaze, you have nothing to worry about. In fact, the company makes a point of stating that the software was designed by ex-Apple employees.

The interface is clear, simple and attractive, if not particularly packed with bells and whistles. One thing we would point out is that if you have a huge amount of data, getting it up to the cloud to begin with is going to take a very long time (dependent on your Internet upload speed), even if your storage is unlimited – however, BackBlaze make no secret of this fact.

Backblaze won’t please everyone, and it’s certainly not the best thing for those preoccupied with the highest level of secrecy. However, we’re sure that many Mac users, who are often fans of attractive interfaces and ease of use, will be quite taken with its charms.

Visit BackBlaze »


3rd place

Wuala

4,9/5

Wuala Logo

Update: Wuala shut down on 15 November 2015.
Key Points: Good balance between functionality and security, Data is encrypted before leaving your Mac, Established brand-name, Competitive pricing.

As we said in the introduction, all kinds of companies are pushing online backup services these days, but Wuala comes from LaCie, a company who have been in the backup business for many years. The chances are you are familiar with them because of their external hard drives for local backups.

Wuala strikes a good balance between simplicity, usability and security. First and foremost, all the data you choose to backup is encrypted on your own computer (client-side), before it is sent to the Wuala servers. The data itself is “split into different pieces” and stored in multiple places (all European countries) with 256 bit AES encryption. Finally, on the security side of things, your password is never sent to Wuala, so not even their staff can see your data.

Although this is all good stuff, it is fair to say that other companies (including some in this round-up) are even more specific about what they do to protect your privacy. As we said, Wuala strikes a good balance, but if you are truly obsessive about security (or have something to hide!) you may want to go with another option.

Wuala

When it comes to the Mac,  Wuala certainly haven’t treated OS X as a “second best” to Windows. In fact, the company’s online demo videos all show the solution in use on the Mac platform.

All the features most users will need are present and correct: scheduled backups, versioning, and cross platform sharing abilities. Wuala also provides a file sync option that crosses over with the kind of functionality the likes of Dropbox offers.

The only thing that prevents Wuala appearing a little higher up in our league table is the cost, which can get quite significant for high data volumes. An unlimited service would likely suit you better if you have a huge amount of data to back up.

Visit Wuala »


4th place

SpiderOak

4,9/5

SpiderOak Logo

Key Points: Good encryption with “zero knowledge” privacy, Free to try (but only up to 2GB), Decent Mac client software, Great documentation, and plenty of technical information for those who want it

SpiderOak really does sell itself as a backup service based around privacy. To quote the marketing literature: “no one…can gain access, not our staff, not a government.” They call this approach “zero knowledge privacy.”

Going below the surface, this all works in a similar way to Wuala, but SpiderOak provide a little more technical detail as to how it all functions. Passwords are pre-encrypted using JavaScript, so are never sent in plain text, and there’s even a method to bypass JavaScript for the extra paranoid. AES256 encryption is in use.

What’s less clear is exactly where the encryption takes place. SpiderOak point out that most backup providers only encrypt during transmission, but that they encrypt in their data centres too (hence their staff’s inability to access your data). However, it wasn’t immediately apparent to us that SpiderOak encrypts everything before it leaves your Mac, which may be a preference to some. Even so, SpiderOak provides plenty of reassurance to the privacy-conscious.

However, for the paranoid, there are some security warning signs that didn’t please another of our reviewers when he reviewed backup services with privacy specifically in mind. If you are particularly fixated on privacy, you’ll want to check out his views here.

Sp Oak

Before we move onto functionality, we feel it fair to point out that the documentation for SpiderOak is truly excellent. There are detailed instructions, video tutorials, and thorough FAQ sections – plenty to please beginners as well as those enthusiasts who like to know every detail.

The Mac implementation is thorough, with good, well designed client software. It’s not the most easy to use, making the great documentation all the more useful. Although the solution is platform independent, it is worth pointing out that you do compromise some privacy if you access your account via the SpiderOak website, as you effectively hand over your password. We only discovered this by accident whilst browsing the FAQs. Essentially, it’s best to stick to using the client software only if you’re particularly privacy conscious.

The other features are all pretty standard stuff, including versioning (which only uses up the storage volume of one version of the file), and mobile access. The best part of all is that you can try it free, with up to 2GB of data.

Visit SpiderOak »


5th place

Tresorit

4,9/5

Tresorit Logo
Key Points: Good “zero knowledge” privacy, Business and consumer solutions available, Basic but sensible functionality, A little more expensive than some services

Tresorit is probably the most business-focussed product in this roundup, and although it’s free for personal use with storage up to 3GB, it is a little more expensive than some of the competition if you need to store more, or use the service’s enterprise features.

However, as with so many things in life, you get what you pay for. When it comes to security, Tresorit is confident enough to refer to itself as “the safest place in the cloud.” This is a bold statement indeed, and even backed up by a “bounty” for hackers who manage to crack through the encryption.

It IS backed up by strong security credentials. Like Spider Oak, it is a “zero knowledge” platform, and encryption takes place on your local machine before your data is uploaded. Tresorit single out Google Drive and Dropbox for being inherently insecure, and they are by comparison. TLS encryption is used, and staff have no access to data.

Tresorit

Tresorit has dedicated Mac client software, and it’s clear and well designed, even though it seems to take some design cues from non Mac operating systems. Furthermore, the naming of storage silos as “tresors” is a little odd, as this is probably as meaningless to most people as it was to us (it’s actually German for “vault”.) Even so, there’s nothing here to strongly dislike.

Collaboration features are strong, and focussed on sharing encrypted files. Beyond this, functionality is fairly minimal in the personal version of the software, but the normal versioning, cross platform capabilities and mobile apps are all present and correct.

Visit Tresorit »


Conclusion

Finding the right online backup solution for your Mac is all about knowing what you want. The five products above all have their pros and cons, but are all of a high standard and ALL worth recommending for different reasons.

The main thing it comes down to is just how much your privacy bothers you. Some of these services allow you to control your privacy to a very paranoid degree. Others place ease of use first. However, it’s fair to say that all of them pay more attention to privacy and security than mainstream file sync services. Even if you use one of those, supplementing it with one of these services would be a wise move – and regardless of which you choose, it won’t break the bank.


Summary

Rank Provider Starting Price Grade Link

1

CrashPlan Logo $ 4 / mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

2

BackBlaze Logo $ 5 / mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

3

Wuala Logo 99 cents / mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

4

SpiderOak Logo $ 0.00 / mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

5

Tresorit Logo $ 0.00 / mo

Read Review >
Visit Site >

Ben Taylor Ben was a geek long before "geek chic," learning the ropes on BBC Micros, before moving on to Atari STs and IBM compatibles. He was "online" using a 1200bps modem before the Internet was even a thing. Now, after two decades in the industry, he writes about technology for various publications, operates a few websites of his own, and runs a bespoke IT consultancy based in London.

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2 responses to “5 Best Online Backups for Mac

  1. Wuala shut down 15th Nov 2015, per their website. They recommend Tresorit as an alternative. In any case, could you please update your list of “5 Best Online Backups for Mac”?

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