Are Online Backup Plans Priced by the Month or Year?

How Do Online Backup Services Price Their Plans?

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When you sign up for online backup, do you have to pay every month like other bills, or can you pay for a year or more ahead of time? Are there discounts for paying ahead of time?

The following question is one of many you'll find in my Online Backup FAQ:

"I'm confused about how these online backup plans are priced - do you pay by the month, or once per year, or what?"

Most online backup services give you several term length options with discounts, usually substantial ones when you prepay for a longer term.

The shortest term available from most online backup providers is month-to-month but a few require at least a one-year prepayment.

Almost all online backup providers also offer the option of longer terms, usually two or three years, all of which is due at sign up. That might seem like a lot of money to provide up front but you can save a lot of money over the month-to-month cost when you do that.

The longest term I've seen is 4 years. Paying up front for this length of time can save you as much as 40% to 50% off the monthly price, depending on the backup service.

If committing to one backup service for a long period of time makes you nervous, please know that most allow cancellation at any time and full refunds of any unused months, but be sure to make sure that's true of whatever service you're looking at before signing up.

While probably obvious for month-to-month plans, I thought I should mention that most longer-term online backup plans also automatically renew after the term has expired.

Since it can be confusing to compare prices between online backup plans due to how different they all seem (see How Do I Decide Which Online Backup Service to Pick?), I've created two price comparison charts based on two popular features:

Each chart is broken down by term length so it's easy to see which online backup plan is least expensive for the time frame given. Hopefully, this will make your decision a bit easier if the price is your main concern.

Here are a few more questions that I'm often asked during the search for the right backup service:

I answer a number of other questions as part of my Online Backup FAQ