SOS Online Backup Review Summary
- Backup up to 5 computers
- 50GB storage space for basic account
- On the fly backups
- Easy web access to your files
- Better encryption than most
- Highly configurable advanced features
- Software can perform external drive backups for larger files
- Not much to mention, backup software can be difficult to get to grips with
- No Mac support until Q4 2011
SOS online backup is reliable, and performed well during our testing, and we struggled to find a fault with it.
As you can imagine, my job requires me to spend a great deal of time testing and reviewing backup software for this site. After a certain point all online backup software appear the same or very similar, at least.
When I began my review of SOS online backup I was expecting the same old typical online backup features, however after installing the software I was pleasantly surprised.
It’s been quite some time since I came across a backup service that took the time to really consider the needs and requirements of the end user, the first of which was when I tested out SugarSync.
Local external drive backups
There are some very useful features available to SOS online backup, which I’m amazed aren’t supported by other providers, one of the most useful advantages SOS online backup has is that it supports local external drive backups, now online backup is great for your critical files, but it’s not useful for large media files and the most cost effective method to backup large files is onto an external hard drive. Too often you have to fork out another $50 for a local backup software. But SOS have thought about that, and built in local backup functionality on their free online backup software that is provided with your online backup subscription.
Custom encryption keys
Now, at this point I realise I should warn you, SOS online backup is not designed for beginners or luddites, SOS online backup has some advanced features which may cause more problems than it solves if not used correctly. This is particularly the case with the UltraSafe feature, all online backup services support data encryption which involves encoding the files using a key. The files can only be decoded using that key. If you forget or lose the key, your data is as good as lost. Most of the providers realise that a sizeable proportion of users will lose or forget their keys, so they set and keep the encryption keys hidden from the end user.
Although this is a safe practice, it is by no means foolproof, so SOS online backup supports UltraSafe which allows its users to set their own encryption keys. You can choose to use it or opt out, but note that when you use UltraSafe, you need to set a tough encryption key that cannot be broken using brute force, and keep a hard copy in case you forget it. Because SOS Online Backup will not be able to recover your files without it.
SOS supports both automatic backup and scheduled backed, although automatic backup is the preferred choice, it should be noted that if you are working on a large document that you save every 15 minutes or so, it can slow down your internet connection as SOS will keep uploading every saved version of the file. So you can elect to do scheduled backups instead.
Much like SugarSync and Carbonite, you can access your backups through the web, from an unattached computer, this is useful if you want to access certain files away from your home, such as through your work computer.
SOS Online Backup has worked well during our tests, and has well packed featured that should set an example for others to follow. On the flipside the array of features and configurables could alienate many novice computer users, and I suspect SOS Online Backup is designed more for advanced computer users.