Free Offsite Backup Software in 2023

Free Offsite Backup Software in 2023

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Backup (in various types and forms) is one of the most effective ways of protecting a company’s data against data loss or corruption. By preventing such a potentially catastrophic event, a company can avoid losing revenue, reputation and in some cases, bankruptcy. There’s a lot of different classifications of backup types, and one depends mainly on the data’s location: onsite backup and offsite backup - each with their own set of features and challenges, pros and cons.

Onsite vs offsite backup

Offsite backup specifically is when a copy of your data is transferred to a data storage that is geographically separated away from your main production site. The same data transfer can be performed using direct access with the help of a WAN (wide area network). Conversely, onsite backup is where data is backed up and then stored on a variety of local storage devices, like disks, hard drives, etc. In recent years, the term“offsite” has grown in application, equally meaning Cloud as well as the more physically tangible destinations. Accordingly, this article also covers cloud storage solutions.

The storages’ location-related benefits of free offsite backup software are the following:

  • The data that is stored off site is likely to be safe from any sort of disaster or accident that happens on your main site, like fire, robbery, natural disaster, etc.
  • Technically, offsite backup as a method can be considered more reliable than the onsite ones since the data is usually backed up and transferred automatically.
  • You can get access to your offsite data using either FTP (File transfer protocol) or your usual Internet connection.
  • If you’re using tape drives as your offsite backup storage medium, their nature allows for your data that is stored on tape to remain virtually impossible to be affected by the majority of malware and other viruses, since tape backups have no need to be turned on to store the data in question.

One other way to formulate the onsite vs offsite comparison is to look at it in terms of  a difference between local data storage locations and remote data storage locations.

Local backups are represented by the data from a LAN to autochangers or tapes that are connected to your servers directly (or they can be connected to SAN/NAS solutions or just belong to the same physical space). There is typically not a lot of physical space between the two, but they are still placed apart from each other in some way. These local backups are most effective for situations when there is only a part of data that has been affected by a disaster or an accident of sorts, allowing for quick recovery to reduce the downtime as much as possible. Such backups are usually faster as well, if the company’s network speed is at least reasonable. This decrease in recovery time and transfer time can also help with compliance to a company’s policies about backup time windows, etc.

Remote backup locations, on the other hand, are much more valuable in case of some kind of natural disaster or other unfortunate event that affects the entire organization’s working process, such as inside threats, robberies, accidental or intentional fires, natural disasters, and more. These are a lot of different free offsite backup solutions, and they typically involve removable storage devices like tape or disk, or they can work with the help of a third-party service providing cloud storage, such as Amazon S3, MS Azure and others. The remote nature of this backup type however, doesn’t mean it is not important to have at least reasonable levels of security and data transfer speed.In fact, recovery speed (and therefore bandwidth) can be critical in a business being able to restore its systems before fatal business damage occurs.

Features of an offsite backup solution

Generally speaking, an open source offsite backup is a popular backup solution architecture that keeps the balance between disaster recovery services and cloud backup services. Here is the list of main features that an offsite backup for an enterprise should have, at a minimum:

  • Technical support. Various support sources and channels to help with resolving any possible problem that might occur in regards to the offsite storage’s working process.
  • Replication. Minimizing the probability of data loss by duplicating the information and distributing copies in different locations.
  • Archiving. Includes capabilities of storing data archives for the purpose of maintaining them for a set period of time with the ability to perform search operations within archived data.
  • Collaborative work with disaster recovery solutions. Implementing disaster recovery solutions taking into account all of the offsite backup’s characteristics and limitations allows for a more robust backup and disaster recovery process in general.
  • Adequate security. Increases the total reliability of your free offsite backup software.
  • Bare metal restore. Allowing for creating specific backups that can restore the entire system from bare metal state. This is a computer or server that has nothing installed on it, not even an OS. This alleviates the requirements of all and any programs to be pre-installed on the machine, making the restore process easier and / or more effective, in some cases.

Of course, there’s a lot more features that may also be included in the better, free offsite backup solutions. Some of the less prevalent functions are:

  • Reduced maintenance costs for backup infrastructure when it comes to tape drives, disks, servers, etc.
  • Bandwidth management and organization to ensure that there’s no problems in the process of copying your data to or from the offsite storage, if it’s being done remotely.
  • Easy remote access to your data in the form of backups from anywhere (if you have the necessary clearance level, of course).
  • High adaptability of the solution in general, allowing for some freedom of changing the configuration of the information to be recovered or backed up.
  • Resource management that allows for multiple virtual environment functions, like snapshots, virtual instance backups, etc.
  • Heightened physical and general security of the offsite location where the data is being stored, both in cases of a third party storage provider and in case of the remote location belonging to the company itself.

There’s also one popular change that’s relatively new for the open source offsite backup environment in the cloud, and it’s the increasing popularity of hybrid platforms (allowing for shared resources for remote and local sites). While these might be a useful approach for some organizations, it’s important to remember that this will likely create more storage locations to take care of and manage.

Examples of free offsite backup software

As we have mentioned before, “remote or offsite backup” covers a wide range of different services and platforms, and many of them turn out not actually to be free of charge at all. But to illustrate what kind of offerings are available, we will present a number of different free offsite backup solutions, explaining their unique traits and terms of use.

idrive landing page

IDrive is a rather versatile backup solution with an abundance of different features to it. IDrive supports a variety of different devices for backup purposes, from desktop and mobile devices to NAS and servers, and there are also features such as versioning, data deduplication, and encryption for data that is both mid-transfer and at rest. That encrypted data can also be managed by yourself only (encryption key storage), and there is also an SSL/TLS protocol supported. IDrive also has a free pricing plan in that has 10 GB of storage for free – and plenty of other paid plans with terabytes of space available, even though there is no unlimited plan available. landing page, or Sync, is a service that promotes itself as a document collaboration/file storage platform. It is a collaboration platform, first and foremost, even though it does have offsite backup capabilities for specific data types. Sync can be used to backup files and share documents, and presents itself as a secure place to keep your data in. There are multiple different pricing plans that Sync has, starting from a basic free plan that has 5 GB of storage to it, and going upwards to plans such as Teams Unlimited, which includes zero storage limitations, 24/7 support, an administrator account, custom branding, and more.

pcloud landing page

pCloud is also not exactly a standard example of an offsite backup solution, since it is a cloud storage provider first and foremost. The reason why pCloud is on this list is that it recently added a number of features to facilitate backup and restore. It may not be the most feature-rich solution on the market, but it is easy to use and the ability to combine an effective cloud storage provider and a backup solution in one place is more than enough to compensate for at least some of its shortcomings. pCloud offers 10 Gigabytes of storage for free after signing up, and it also has several different paid plans with different storage capacity limitations – although only business plans have zero traffic limitations whatsoever.

jottacloud landing page

Jottacloud is another example of a hybrid cloud storage and backup solution that is a great fit for offsite backup purposes. It supports different target device types, as well as features such as file syncing, multithreading, speed throttling, etc. There are also some characteristics that are specific to Jottacloud. For example, its interface looks extremely dated, even though it is still easy to work with. Additionally, Jottacloud does not have private encryption support – so every potential user would have to rely on the integrity of Jottacloud’s own servers located in Norway when it comes to data security. It also has mobile apps for both iOS and Android, offering a free plan for a single user and 5 GB of free storage – and zero plans with uncapped bandwidth limitations.

backblaze landing page

Backblaze B2 is a notable name on the cloud storage market, and it is a good option for offsite backup purposes – even though that may not be initially obvious. Unlike IDrive, Backblaze puts a lot of emphasis on being simple and straightforward, – and it is also one of the cheapest offerings on the market when it comes to traffic costs. Backblaze has 10 GB of free space that it gives to every new user, and it also offers a fairly reasonable price for an unlimited cloud storage space.

cbackup landing page

CBackup is a fairly standard offsite backup solution that offers cloud storage and backup capabilities in a single package. It supports fine synchronization, has some degree of scalability, and is capable of performing automatic backups on a regular basis. CBackup has its own cloud storage available, and it also supports cloud storage from other cloud storage providers, both free and paid ones. CBackup uses AES-256 encryption and other features to improve data safety for all of its customers. The basic package of CBackup is completely free and offers 50 GB of traffic per month, while also giving 10 GB of CBackup’s own cloud storage. There are also several other pricing plans available, with the highest one offering no limits on the amount of traffic and also giving 5 TB of CBackup cloud storage as a bonus.

duplicati landing page

Duplicati is an offsite backup software that does not have its own hosted server space, offering the customer to choose one of the third-party cloud storage providers. Duplicati also supports customer-oriented cloud storage providers such as OneDrive and Dropbox. Other than that, Duplicati is a backup solution that is completely free and open source, making it extremely useful for smaller companies that have a limited budget for data security. That does not mean that Duplicati is always user-friendly, however. It may be problematic in terms of the initial setup and the regular usage, and the lack of customer support makes this particular problem that much more significant – although it is not surprising, given that this is a free solution.

Bacula as a free offsite backup solution

The list above showcases that there are quite a lot of different offsite backup solutions available, but most of them have some sort of limitation when it comes to either traffic, data compatibility, application compatibility, backup levels, scalability or storage capacity, meaning that free solutions such as these turn into a paid solution sooner or later. There are, however, some solutions that are actually free and have far fewer limitations when it comes to how much data they can work with – Bacula Community is one such solution.

If you’re looking for a free offsite backup solution, Bacula might be the best solution. It’s an open source software solution that is especially capable of handling a variety of different backup and recovery variations. It is extremely scalable and as a result is popular with many large organizations. Bacula’s use requires some knowledge of Linux, however once it is implemented, it is extremely robust and stable. Bacula  offers a number of advanced storage management features that can make your life a lot easier. There is a lively online community and the software continues to enjoy further development and an exciting roadmap. For ease of use, Bacula offers a choice between a GUI and a command line interface. Bacula is free and immensely popular, with well over 2,5 million downloads and several thousands of contributors from all over the world.

About the author

Rob Morrison

Rob Morrison started his IT career with Silicon Graphics in Switzerland, which developed into a wide variety of IT management roles for almost 10 years. He has subsequently held various management positions in professional open source companies such as JBoss, Red Hat and Pentaho, contributing to the growth of these well-known companies. He is a graduate of Plymouth University and holds an Digital Media and Communications BSc Honours degree, and completed an Overseas Studies Program.