Norton Online Backup Review

by Reads (30,616)
  • Pros

    • Integrates with Norton 360
    • 256-bit encryptions on transfers
    • Optional secondary local backup
  • Cons

    • No server OS support
    • Only Windows support
    • Annual-only subscriptions

By: Rick Vanover

Norton Online Backupis the security and utility developer’s take on the online data backup business. It’s simpler and easier than running your own RAID array or shuttling an external hard drive to a fire-safe, but is it really just as good? We put Norton Online Backup through its paces in this review.

PRODUCT OVERVIEW

Norton Online Backup (as the name implies) backs up computer data over the Internet, offering offsite, available-anywhere redundancy for your precious documents, pictures, and video game save-point files. For most service levels and configurations, Norton Online will back up five computers at up to 5GB of data per system. The product works on an annual subscription, billed at $49.99. The table below outlines the details of Norton Online Backup:

Feature 25 GB Plan Notes
Annual Cost $49.99 Can be part of Norton 360
Multiple PCs Yes Up to 5 computers per account
Supported Systems Windows Vista x86, x64, Basic, Home Premium, Ultimate, Business and Start Editions Windows XP SP2 , x86 only, Professional Home, Media Center Editions
Storage Allocation 25 GB across 5 computers
Foreign restore Yes, via web browser with account login
Additional storage Yes Available in increments of 10, 25, 50 or 100 GB.

DOWNLOAD & INSTALLATION

Norton Online Backup has an interface that simplifies the process of configuring back up jobs, but also takes many of the down-and-dirty customization options away from the user. More importantly, everything related to the product revolves around a user account, rather than any individual PC or IP address. Each account is tied to an annual subscription, and is transportable across computers in case your primary computer becomes unavailable.

When Norton Online Backup is installed, a set of account credentials are used for authentication to the backup service. This is shown in Figure A below:

Figure A

Norton Online Backup login authentication

Once logged in, subscribers are guided to add a computer to the backup plan. When the local computer is selected, the local backup agent is installed as shown in Figure B below:

Figure B

Norton Online Backup local agent installation

This process is repeated for each computer that is to be protected with Norton Online Backup. Figure C below shows three computers configured for backups:

Figure C

Norton Online Backup multiple computer configuration

For each computer, a specified list of which files and/or directories to back up is configured, though not in quite so straightforward a fashion as you might expect. Users are prompted to select data categories such as “Email” or “Music” to back up, which will lead Norton Online to automatically select certain directories and filetypes for backup. You can also specify “uncategorized” directories for backup, which may be necessary if you keep your music or e-mail files in a nontraditional directory. Figure D below shows the backup selection for a single computer:

Figure D

Norton Online Backup file selection

In Figure D, note that there is an option to throttle the bandwidth allocated to the online backup process. This is important as the Internet traffic shared with this connection will be affected by the backup process. Most Internet connections are upload speed-constrained, so be sure to tune this option for each computer, especially if you’ve got several PCs sharing a single router and Internet connection. Further, make sure each computer is configured to perform its backup during a different timeframe to avoid a total flood of the Internet connection.

IN USE & EFFECTIVENESS

By itself, Norton Online Backup works well to provide basic backup and restore capability for your PC’s data. The backup functionality can be rolled into a larger solution with Norton 360 if additional protection and system configuration is required. Norton 360 has a higher cost as other products, like Norton Antivirus, are included.

The Norton Online Backup product is relatively new to Symantec’s home-targeted offerings, yet it fits well into many home computer usage situations as it is easy to use and accommodates multiple computers. Small businesses will have issues with Norton Online when backing up any applications that use database or email systems, as Norton Online’s “simplified” configuration system will almost certainly miss some of the file types associated with these apps. Server operating systems will also likely give Norton Online fits.

CONCLUSION

Norton Online Backup has a competitive price for a competitive market. Simply put, this solution is a one-size-fits-most(not all) for the home user. Small businesses with no servers should find Norton Online Backup adequate, but may run into stopping points when the first server operating system is introduced.

Overall, Norton Online Backup is a reliable player in a competitive field. Norton and Symantec are well-established brands in system-protection for home computing, which inspires a certain amount of confidence and an expectation of high-level product support and advancement.

Bottom line, if all you want to do is keep your average PC data on your average home or small business network safe, Norton Online Backup is a perfectly viable data retention solution. If you’ve got enough tech savvy to run your own server and heavily tweak your computers’ configurations, odds are you’ll need a more robust solution.

PROS

  • Integrates with Norton 360
  • 256-bit encryptions on transfers
  • Optional secondary local backup

CONS

  • No server OS support
  • Only Windows support
  • Annual-only subscriptions


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