Fairly expensive, with an aging client, but we like the web interface and local backup capabilities
SOS Online Backup’s feature-packed service lets you store content from up to five Windows or OS X computers, and Android and iOS mobile devices. As well as the standard features you’d expect to find in online backup service, SOS provides a slick web interface to access your files and even has a Facebook app to store pictures and posts from your social media profile.
Once you’ve signed up for SOS’s backup service, you’ll be sent an email containing links to the Windows and OS X desktop clients. By default, the client offers to back up the contents of your document, image, music and video libraries, but alternatively you can manually select specific files and folders, include or exclude a custom list of file types and deselect any particular category of files. This is a good idea, given that SOS does not provide unlimited accounts (it’s available in 100GB, 150GB and 250GB versions) and most people have many gigabytes of documents, video and music.
The easiest way to manually configure what you back up is to deselect everything on this initial screen and skip straight to the helpful tree view of SOS’s backup configuration wizard. We’d have liked to have been able to resize this window, but it makes it easy to select and deselect folders and files for inclusion in your backups. You can even back up content from external hard disks connected to your PC and NAS devices on your network. This would have been easier if we were able to select mapped network drives as though they were local, rather than browsing to them or manually entering their address.
With your files selected, you can choose when your files are backed up, with an hourly, daily, weekly or monthly schedule, at the time of your choice.
Unlike most rivals, you can also use the SOS client to make backups to your local network, PC or a connected external storage device. These are easy to set up, allowing you to make either full or incremental backups.
The client also allows you to restore your online and local backups – you can locate them by date, size, file name or a combination of the three. Content backed up is shown within a directory tree, with separate trees for each PC you’ve backed up from. Any files you want to restore can be saved to a local directory of your choice; the original file path is retained by default, but it’s easy to override.
If you don’t want to go through the wizard every time you make a backup, you can select Classic View from a pull-down menu on SOS’s main window. However, although it provides a few extra methods of adding files to your backup, it feels clumsy and looks primitive. We’d have preferred a backup selection option to be added to Windows’ right-click menu.
You can also access your stored files via the SOS web interface, which lets you search through them by type or name, download them, share them with others via email or Facebook and even view some files. For example, you can preview Excel spreadsheets and Word documents and also play some music and video files via your browser, although SOS has limited format support.
SOS retains all backed up versions of every file, so there’s no chance of losing the iteration you need. It also allows you to back up from as many computers or compatible mobile devices as you like, so the only limit is the amount of space you have left in your account. You can even back up content from network shares and external drives.
SOS is a decent backup service with a good range of features. Although its desktop client feels clumsy compared to some of its rivals, we liked its ability to manage our local as well as online backups. The big downside is the price, with SOS starting at £6 per month for just 100GB of storage space. IDrive, which is also much cheaper, remains our favourite option for online backup with web access. If it’s just capacity you need, you’re better off with Memset SquirrelSave’s unlimited storage.