By Charles P. Jefferies
SOS Online Backup for Home provides a number of backup options for home users. It is one of the more comprehensive suites we have tested, offering everything from local and online backup to archiving and access from an iPhone.
This review will cover the Home version of SOS Online Backup; there are also versions for servers and business users.
The Home version has the following pricing options (yearly):
- 2GB: $19.95
- 5GB: $29.95
- 15GB: $49.95
The pricing is steeper than other home online backup solutions we tested, which run about $50-55/year for unlimited online backup. However, SOS offers more comprehensive feature support including the following (quoted from the SOS website):
- Continuous Data Protection: SOS will backup files selected for continuous protection as soon as a change is detected
- Global Roaming Access: Access your data anywhere in the world using a web browser
- iPhone Access: Download the iPhone SOS client to access your data from your iPhone
- Local Backup: backup unlimited amounts of data to local devices including USB and network drives
- Archiving and Versioning: SOS keeps an unlimited version history of all your files — allowing you to roll back to any version of any of your files
- One-click File and Folder Sharing: From inside the SOS My Account portal you can share your files with anyone with an email address
The archiving feature is the most significant advantage SOS enjoys over its competitors.
The SOS program is a small 11MB download and takes about one minute to install. Account setup is handled when the program is installed. The program prompts for a username and password when launched; multiple users can backup from the same computer. I like this feature a lot.
There are two interface versions: Classic (shown above-left) and Wizard (shown above-right).
Classic mode is also referred to as advanced mode; it is more hands-on but allows for more finely tuned control.
SOS is not as automated as other backup solutions; users must select files manually to backup via drag-and-drop or browsing. As files are selected, a bar shows how much space is used relative to your account. Although SOS does not offer unlimited backup space, it does support archiving/versioning; it saves an unlimited number of file versions and will not delete them from your online backup even if you delete them from your computer. This is a great feature and not something I have seen in other suites.
Right-clicking files and selecting “Enable LiveProtect” tells SOS to monitor the file and back it up as soon as a change is detected. Other suites I tested offered a similar feature though charged extra for it; it is included by default with SOS.
One of SOS’ highlights is that it allows you to access your files from anywhere using a web browser and share them with others. Anyone that uses multiple computers in multiple locations will find this valuable.
How long the initial backup takes depends on two things: how much data is being backed up and Internet upload speed. The first few hundred MB of files I backed up did not take long on my cable Internet connection.
For those with a lot of data, SOS offers a service where they can send you an external hard drive to transfer your data to, send it back to them, and they will handle the initial backup; this would be far faster than sending it over the Internet.
Users can manually set the backup intervals in weekly, daily, or hourly increments. The shortest increment allowed is daily; individual files and folders can be selected for continuous backup via the LiveProtect feature.
It is possible to restore files from multiple locations, including local (external drives, network locations, or other computers) and from online. Most users will likely be restoring from their online backup, which is what I did.
Restoring files is a relatively simple procedure. Shown above-left is the Wizard view; it essentially walks you through finding the backup you wish to restore from and then the files. The advanced more is shown above-right.
Once the backup is initiated, select where the restored files should go; the backup then begins and displays a progress bar. How long it will take generally depends on the speed of your Internet connection.
SOS Online Backup for Home is a comprehensive backup and recovery solution. It is more advanced than other solutions I tested; advanced feature support includes online file access (from web browsers and iPhone), archiving/versioning, and backup to local and online sources. The most significant feature is archiving/versioning; SOS will keep multiple versions of a file and will not delete it from your online backup even if you delete it off your computer.
SOS is more expensive than other solutions; one year of service is $49.99 for just 15GB of space, unlike competing solutions which offer unlimited space for just a bit more. However, despite the low size limit, SOS is easily recommendable since it offers more advanced backup features.
- Supports archiving/versioning
- Backup runs in the background
- Web browser access
- Allows file sharing
- Continuous backup options
- Relatively low storage limit