SOS Online Backup Review
Established in 2001, SOS Online Backup has long been considered as one of the founders of the online backup world. Since its foundation, the company has opened up offices worldwide, in places such as California, the Ukraine, Australia and India, and it utilizes data centers worldwide as well, to meet the needs of its continually expanding client base. Get an insider's view on the service, customer support, security and pricing in the SOS Online Backup review below, and determine if this service can meet your backup needs.
SOS Online Backup does not provide bargain basement prices, nor does it provide private users with the option to choose a plan for less than one year (though those registering for certain business plans can opt for a monthly contract). It does, however, offer a money back guarantee if the client's data is not backed up properly. The pricing structure for SOS Online Backup works as follows:
|50GB Home Plan
|100GB Home Plan
|150GB Home Plan
|250GB Business Plan
|500GB Business Plan
|1TB Business Plan
|1 month plan
|1 year plan
|2 years plan
|3 years plan
SOS Online Backup accepts Visa, Mastercard and American Express only. All plans are sold in a prepaid version only.
A free trial version of SOS Online Backup is available, allowing users to test the service for storage of up to 5GB of data. The free version is available for under a week, but should give users a strong sense of how the service works.
With over 10 years in the online backup industry, SOS Online Backup has been able to truly understand and respond to the needs of consumers. While we were adequately impressed by most of the features offered, including availability for both PC and Mac users, there were some that stood out during our testing of the software:
- Unlimited versioning - Users can feel secure in the knowledge that every single version of their files will be saved, so that they can access prior versions in case their files were corrupted or damaged, or even if they just want to see a previous form of the file at any time.
- Convenient file sharing - Like its competitors such as JustCloud and My PC Backup, SOS Online Backup offers file sharing via email, which is extremely easy to use.
- Unlimited archiving - Unlike some online backup services, SOS Online Backup saves its clients' files indefinitely by archiving older files and allowing them to remain available in case the need arises.
- Continuous backup - Consumers who make changes constantly may be relieved to know that SOS Online Backup offers continuous backups so that files are saved on the company's servers each time an update is made. This continuous backup policy differs dramatically from companies like ZipCloud which offer a once-daily backup.
- Online backup for business - Though many top online backup services offer backup for private use only, SOS Online Backup offers an impressive service for business owners of all sizes. Available for an unlimited number of computers, the business plan provides scheduled backups of the high quantity of files that businesses use rather than continual backup so that the server is not overloaded with the operation. Business users can choose between weekly, monthly, daily or hourly backups depending on their preferences and usage patterns.
- Backup of multiple computers and mobile devices - Users can backup up to 5 PCs and mobile devices within one service plan.
Despite the fabulous features offered by this company, we were both surprised and slightly disappointed to see that users who require unlimited backup must choose the business plan, and that there is no storage amount available between 150GB and the 250GB business plan which is considerably more expensive and offers backup to unlimited PCs, a feature that may not be necessary for regular users who have a large music or digital photo collection, for example.
In addition to the 5GB of storage included in the free trial version, SOS Online Backup offers multiple packages with differing amounts of storage space, as outlined in the pricing section above. Users can see from their first backup with the trial version approximately how much data they have and can choose a plan accordingly. Should the user surpass the amount of storage purchased, he can always upgrade at any time. Packages are available in 50GB, 100GB and 150GB increments for home users, and 250GB, 500GB and 1TB for business users.
Ease of Use
Downloading and installing the SOS Online Backup software was entirely straightforward, though it took about 2 minutes longer than the download of JustCloud. Running the backup itself too quite a long while (over 1 hour), ostensibly because it was saving the data on the entire computer, rather than just the MyDocuments folder that is backed up as a default by other online backup services. Users who prefer to backup specific files or folders only can also choose that option easily. In fact, SOS Online Backup told us that it saved 1.23GB of data, as opposed to other services which backed up only the 4.6MB that was located in specific folders.
What we truly admired about the service was how easy it was to schedule backups down to the exact minute we wished them to run. We could also request an email summary of the backup, a service we didn't encounter with many other online backup services.
Restoring data with SOS Online Backup was extremely easy, and we were offered the option to restore from either our local drive backup or a previous online backup, an option which could be extremely valuable for some users who know exactly where the best version of their files is located.
SOS Online Backup uses a top navigation similar to the design used by other top online backup services, through which users can set their preferences, share their folders, run a manual backup and perform other tasks.
Overall, we found the user experience provided by SOS Online Backup to be quite pleasant and we were satisfied that it required very little effort to become fully familiar with the system and how it works.
SOS Online Backup uses a three-tiered encryption security system that they tout as 'military grade security'. The data stored by the company is encrypted locally, again during the upload and for a third time when it is secured in the data center. Both 256 bit and 128 bit encryption methods are used. Users can feel safe by seeing that their data is stored using an SSL link, a small visual sign that things are secure.
One of the most disturbing things we encountered during our SOS Online Backup review is a contradictory claim regarding the company's customer support availability. In our first visit to the site, we came to the Customer Support page which claimed to offer 24 hour support. For this reason, we were surprised that when we went to receive support for our Home Plan (at 2:08pm EST on a Thursday) we received a message that support was offline.
When we returned about 12 hours later to retest the customer support service, we found the same page to say that support is available from 6am-6pm PST Monday to Friday.
Perhaps more surprising was that we were able to reach customer support the second time around, even though it was not during the hours listed. Our second attempt to receive chat support was at 1am EST on a Friday, and we found the service to be online and immediately responsive. Equally helpful was the fact that each time we received a response a small bell was sounded, so we could complete other tasks without missing a chat.
We also tested the 'submit a ticket' form of assistance, which is a term used to refer to the company's email support service. We submitted a ticket at 2:13pm EST on a Thursday. We noticed, however, that we were required to submit a username, which we didn't have yet at the time of the inquiry, so we made it up (a fib which the system did accept). What was impressive about the ticket submission system is that users could attach a file or a screencast to their inquiry to ensure that the question is answered as efficiently as possible. We instantly received a confirmation, but the response didn't come for over 28 hours.
A test of the company's user forum and knowledgebase was also disappointing, as we found that while it is used in some cases, it is not updated frequently by either users or the SOS Online Backup team. In this review, completed in early September 2012, we found that the forum hadn't been updated since at least a month earlier, and some sections had lied dormant for even longer. The knowledgebase did provide many answers, but it wasn't entirely simple to find the exact details we were looking for as the search feature clearly functioned in broader terms than we were looking for.
Lastly, it may be helpful for some users to know that SOS Online Backup offers several explanatory videos, some of which provide a helpful walkthrough of how to use SOS 5.0 for both Macs and PCs, and the one of which is more of a marketing video explaining why someone would need online backup services. Live webinars created by the company are also available for viewing on demand but they focus primarily on reseller services rather than information that can be helpful for the end user.
- Continual backup
- Backup of the entire computer rather than just a partial compilation of data
- Business backups available
- Unreliable customer support
- Long backup time