Safecopy Backup Review
- inexpensive backup
- unlimited devices
- Top notch security
- 3GB free account
- Mobile app unusable
- No monthly plans
Safecopy Backup is a solid unlimited-device backup solution, yet nothing really fancy. It offers inexpensive and fast online backup for your files and web access anywhere you go. If you have data on a variety of machines and don’t need unlimited storage, you might want to give Safecopy Backup a free try.
Who is Safecopy Backup for?
At the beginning of each review I ask myself who would most benefit from the backup service that I am about to dissect. Granted, many online backup services are so similar that it would be hard to distinguish them if it wasn’t for the the logo. Safecopy Backup isn’t a service that would particularly stand out of the crowd, but there are some interesting aspects that warrant mentioning. If you find yourself working on several machines — at work, at home or anywhere else — then you’ll certainly find Safecopy Backup useful, as it allows you back them all up using just one account. The limitation, you guessed it, is the storage space. Safecopy Backup does not offer unlimited online backup; instead, it starts at 50$ per year for 200GB.
Safecopy Backup Review
Safecopy Backup is a subdivision of the technology firm CirrusApps LLC, which boasts many years of experience in the data and email security niche. As usual, this experience is self-proclaimed — meaning that there’s no way to verify that information — but we’ll trust them for now. In the end, I don’t care a lot about their reputation (unless it’s horrendous), just as long as they treat my data well.
Safecopy Backup takes a different approach to online backup than many other companies like JustCloud, Backblaze and Carbonite: instead of giving you ‘unlimited online backup‘ they say: hey, how about unlimited devices? So the question for the end user becomes: What is more important to me, storage or number of devices? Because you can’t have both (yet, we’re still waiting to see what happens to Bitcasa).
The services offering unlimited storage don’t give you unlimited devices for free (although you can pay extra if you like), and services offering unlimited devices don’t give you unlimited storage — so it’s up to you. That’s why I won’t compare Safecopy Backup with JustCloud or Carbonite, because it would be a little unfair. Instead, I’ll pit it against SOS Online Backup and Mozy, which both offer a solid online backup experience.
How Safecopy Backup stacks up
Let me quickly explain the table: I’ve looked at what it would cost if you were to choose a 200GB plan. I think this is the most reasonable plan for the average user that will even leave some room for more data than most currently need to backup. The price is broken down into monthly payments; however, you’ll have to pay for the entire time period up front if you want to make use of the two-year discounts that are available. So if you want to know the final price, you’ll have to multiply the monthly by 24 (for 24 months).
As we can see, compared to the others, Safecopy Backup is ridiculously inexpensive; while on the top end, SOS Online Backup certainly falls on the pricy side. Falling in the middle price-wise, Mozy recently announced Mozy Stash — a little file syncing and sharing add on for your backups — which does make this solution admittedly more attractive. Safecopy Backup does not file-sync as of today, but it is the cheapest option.
Obviously, price shouldn’t be the only factor, and that’s what this review is for. Read on, and I’ll save you the hassle of drilling through the features yourself.
Signing up, plans and pricing
One of the great things about the internet today is that a lot of services are so called ‘Freemium‘ products, meaning there is a free version with limited features that lets you try it out the service and see if it fits your needs. Safecopy Backup does the same thing as Dropbox or Mozy: they offer a free version of their backup solution with the limiting factor being the storage space (Dropbox and Mozy give you 2GB for free).
Safecopy Backup, on the other hand, gives you 3GB for free — a whole gigabyte more than either of the previously mentioned alternatives. However, there are even services (such as SugarSync) that offer 5GB for free. 3GB isn’t much, but should be enough to store a small music or photo collection plus some documents.
But wait – there is more…
Safecopy Backup allows you to share your files with friends, family, or colleagues; a feature we’ll take an in-depth look at a little later on. If you need more space you have a couple of options:
You can choose between 200GB and 300GB of space. If you need even more, you can add space in increments of 100GB for 70$ per year each, all the way up to 500GB (that is a little cheaper than, for example, SpiderOak, but SpiderOak also includes file sync).
There are no monthly plans available, which means that you’ll have to commit to at least a year and pay the amount up-front. Unfortunately, at the time of this writing, both the 1-year and the 2-year plans are ‘sold out,’ leaving only the 3 and the 4-year plans available.
I can’t help but wonder: how can a digital product be sold out? Unless, of course, they’re trying to produce artificial scarcity? Mhhh…anyway.
On the bright side, the 3 and 4-year plans offer the highest discounts: up to 20%. Other providers offer more savings, for example Crashplan: if you are willing to pay for 4 years up-front, they offer you almost 50% off.
Signing up is pretty straight forward: just download the software and after the installation you can create a free account that gives you 3GB to play around with. Just like Backblaze, the folks at Safecopy Backup want you to download the software first, and then create an account. I have to say, I’d like it better the other way around, but I acknowledge that this is going to be easier for most people.
Getting your files backed up
As I mentioned before, Safecopy Backup does not support unlimited online backup, BUT you can backup files from an unlimited number of machines. Just install the client onto the machine from which you need to backup some files, login with your credentials, and you’re basically done.
As with all online backup providers I test the backup routine with my 1GB test folder that contains all sorts of media files: jpg, pdf, mp4, wav, and even some raw camera files off of my Nikon D7000. That should resemble a typical backup scenario of most users.
The moment you start the installation wizard, you’re thrown directly into your first backup. Of course, you need to choose what to backup first. The standard setting is appropriate for most people (it’ll backup the ‘My Documents‘ folder) but if you happen to store your files elsewhere, then you can choose a custom folder from which to back up.
You can also make several adjustments right in the ‘What to backup’ dialog box:
- Bandwidth Throttle
Most users will not know what this is. Safecopy Backup puts ‘Backup Speed’ in parenthesis — which can be misleading — as the backup speed is limited by your internet connection’s upload speed. If you have broadband and pay a flat fee for your internet, then there is almost no reason to throttle your bandwidth unless you need it somewhere else (uploading a lot of videos to youtube for example) So what bandwidth throttle really does is limit the portion of your bandwidth you allow Safecopy Backup to use when uploading your data to their servers. If you move the slider to the far left, it will only use a tiny fraction, while the opposite will allow Safecopy to use it all.
The ‘Auto’ setting tries to identify automatically how much of your bandwidth Safecopy should be using. However, in my testing, there was no difference between setting it to full throttle or ‘Auto.’
- Skip files bigger than…
I always dislike when providers put an automatic file size limitation to my backup selection. Safecopy Backup limits your file size automatically to 200MB, putting the dialog at the bottom of the screen. If you’re not looking carefully you can easily overlook this setting and lose precious data that way. So definitely uncheck this setting unless you really are sure that your files never exceed 200MB.
The next click already starts your backup. You can see that the backup is running because Safecopy Backup shows you a status bar that clearly indicates which files are being transferred.
Honestly, I was impressed with the backup speed offered by Safecopy Backup. They uploaded my entire test folder within 45 minutes, which is great for 1GB of files. As I chose to upload a mix of files (ranging from a couple of MB to around 300MB) this should be an accurate picture of what the average consumer might experience. Keep in mind, however, that upload speeds depend on your Internet connection and computer configuration as well; so it’s hard to give reliable info on speed. As a reference point: my upspeed is around 5 Mbit/s (not to be confused with megabyte/s).
Does Safecopy Backup offer continuos backup?
I get this question a lot: does provider XY offer continuous backup of my files? Continuous backup means that the online backup service checks the folders you’ve selected for backup regularly, and if something changes, those changes are immediately uploaded to the cloud. Safecopy Backup does a good job with continuous backup.
I created several test files, and as soon as a file was created the backup would start again. So there was no problem detecting my files. I have also covered this example in one of my videos on Safecopy Backup.
What about data de-duplication?
Ok, you seem to be a backup expert already. Yes, Safecopy backup also offers data de-duplication. For those of you who don’t know what it is: Data de-deduplication is a method used to identify which portions of a file have changed. This allows the software to upload only those parts that have changed, instead of having to upload the whole file again, saving both bandwidth and backup time.
Upload a file to the web client
If, for whatever reason, you often find yourself working on machines that don’t belong to you, or if you’re at a friend’s house and she wants to pass you her photo collection, you can upload a file with Safecopy Backup’s web client.
The web client allows you to upload files of up to 50 MB, which is admittedly small, but could be used if an Email attachment is not an option.
Backing up multiple file versions
One the most interesting features offered by Safecopy Backup is its ability to save an unlimited version-history of your files. Every change in a file is closely monitored and backed up. So if you accidentally delete a file or save the wrong changes, you can simply go back in time and recover your files.
Personally, I use this feature all the time because I sometimes save a file too quickly, or I miss-click and everything I’ve been working on for days could be gone.
If you are a writer who earns a living writing you have to make sure never to lose a single word you write; because, as we all know, time is money. Safecopy Backup can do this for you, and unlike Dropbox — which limits the history to 30 days — they’ll do it for an unlimited time.
Security is one of the major issues facing online backup, since most people upload data that is private and confidential, and need to make sure that neither the backup provider nor any third party gets access to that data. Like Mozy, Safecopy Backup uses 448-bit encryption — one of the strongest encryption methods in existance today.
You data is transferred using a Standard SSL connection, which is the same connection used by banks and other institutions that rely heavily on security and privacy.
Bear in mind that being able to see your files and titles in the web browser when you login does NOT mean they’re not encrypted. This is because Safecopy Backup encrypts only the contents of the file with their 448-bit encryption, leaving the title available for your browsing pleasure.
Accessing and restoring your files
What caught my attention right from the beginning was the absence of a “Restore” button. Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t restore your files, but rather that Safecopy Backup uses a slightly different concept: they use the web client to grant you access to your files. Within the web client you can browse, navigate, and even search for the files that you need to restore.
Another option is to “embed” Safecopy Backup into your file system just like an external hard drive. This is called WebDav, and works on Windows and Mac alike. An explanation can be found here.
Restoring from within the web client
If you want to restore a file or all of your files you’ll need to login to the web client and either search for a file or select the files manually. Then, Safecopy Backup will send you a .zip containing all of the files you selected. In my testing, the restore process worked just fine. I think, however, the overall speed of sending you the file could still be improved a little bit.
What I particularly liked was the ability to search for specific file extensions — for example .doc or .mp3 — in order to filter only the files you want or need after a data crash. If you’re looking for a specific file extension that is not on the list below the search bar, all you have to do is type in: “ext:[yourfileextension]” which will allow you to search for any and all types of files.
Many online backup and storage services today offer a feature called “file sharing;” a pretty useful feature if you’re collaborating with a team or need to send larger files to clients or somebody else. Most email inboxes won’t take more than a couple megabytes so sending larger attachments can be quite a hassle.
Safecopy Backup also allows you to share files with a third party. Within the software client you just have to click on “Share” and select whatever file you would like to, well, share.
Once you’ve selected the file you are sent to the web client, which lets you specify the Email address to which you need the file sent. You also have the option to password protect the file, and can even set a date when you would like to stop sharing that particular file. The third party will then receive an email with the download link for that file.
All-in-all this a very straight forward process, and worked fine in my testing during which I shared a couple of pdfs and some MP3s with my grandmother.
One thing I love about Safecopy Backup is the ability to backup all of the devices I have; there’s room for my Macbook Pro (late 2009), my iMac, and all of my spouse’s files. Now, mobile access to all those files would be perfect, wouldn’t it? Well Safecopy Backup thought so too, and has developed an iPhone App to that effect.
Granted, mobile access is nothing new: Dropbox also offers the ability to access your files from your mobile device. But I was eager to test the feature with another online storage provider that is even a little cheaper than Dropbox.
After logging in you can see your files in list format, and you can scroll through or search for a specific file. A typical scenario would be, for example, if you were about to give an important presentation, but forgot to bring the PowerPoint.
With Safecopy Backup you can also send a file to yourself. As you can see in my video review, this part worked well. However, previewing files on my mobile doesn’t. So I cannot show photos or other documents to other people or even myself. Going all the way and sharing the file is pretty tedious if the only thing I wanted to do was take a quick look at a PDF that I forgot at home. Searching for your files doesn’t work either; the current version of the App just crashes and closes itself.
That makes the mobile version of this App pretty useless to me, which also explains the 2 Star ratings on iTunes. So here is a hint to the Safecopy Team: Please update the software soon.
OK, so what’s the bottom line here? I do like the concept of backing up an unlimited number of machines. Especially when your files are spread out through several computers you almost need something like Safecopy Backup — or Dropbox if you need sync as well. I recommend playing around with Safecopy Backup a little and seeing if it fits your needs, as they do offer a generous 3GB of storage space for free. Some folks even combine Safecopy Backup and Dropbox, but switching back and forth is too much hassle for me.
File sharing is a must for me, and it worked flawlessly with Safecopy Backup. If you find yourself constantly sending larger email attachments or if you want to share the latest family vacation photos with your grandma, just upload your files from anywhere and send her a link via email (but make sure she’s able to access her account before you leave).
It’s unfortunate that their mobile app is worthless, as searching for and previewing a files makes it crash. All in all, I think Safecopy Backup is a great choice if you have only 50-100GB of data to store. If, however, you have more, I strongly encourage you to take a look at some of the services that offer unlimited online backup. Unfortunately, the perfect service that offers both unlimited online backup and unlimited machines WITH sync is yet to come.
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