This cheap Cloud backup service is starting to show its age, but it still performs reliably and with the added boon of unlimited storage
Operating system support: Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.6+, Linux, Storage space: Unlimited, Mobile device support: None, Sync support?: No
SquirrelSave is a basic Cloud backup utility which offers unlimited storage space for any number of PCs for one flat monthly fee. It has none of the added attractions of more expensive services, such as web access and mobile apps, but has previously topped our Cloud storage rankings thanks to its low price and flexibility.
There’s only one pricing option for SquirrelSave customers: £5.05 per month gets you unlimited storage to play with. There’s no extra cost for adding extra PCs (although it is fairly complicated, as described below) and despite the company’s claims that it doesn’t work with network storage devices such as a NAS, we were able to get it to work just fine.
SquirrelSave’s software is the definition of no-frills, with a design that harks back to the days of Windows XP and with some decidedly unclear menus. That’s not to say it’s bad software: it backs and restores files faultlessly, and once you’ve set it up to automatically perform your backups, you’re unlikely to ever need to look at the application again, until you have a data disaster and you need to recover your files.
As with other backup services, you select files and folders you want to be backed up to the Cloud, and exclude those that you don’t. The means by which you do this isn’t particularly clear; for example, to remove a folder from your backups, you need to select it and press delete, and while the more technically experienced users will probably grasp this straight away, we would have preferred to see a button that also performs this function.
By default, the maximum upload speed of your backups is limited to a painfully slow 57kbit/s; a few gigabytes or terabytes of storage could take weeks or even months to complete at this speed, so you’ll most likely want to set the speed limit to a higher figure (or zero, which means unlimited) to speed things up. When you change this setting, you’ll have to stop your current backup and start again for it to take effect.
Another strange default option to look out for is that SquirrelSave will ignore files that are over a gigabyte in size, so you’ll need to change this if you work with large files. Once you’ve done your first backup, SquirrelSave will only back up files that have changed, but you can also also set the software to undertake daily full backups.
Memset only advertises SquirrelSave as a single-machine backup utility. Technically, you could have an infinite number of PCs backing up to SquirrelSave, although in practice you have to be extremely careful about how you do this. If two PCs are backing up two folders with identical directories – for example C:\Users\Shopper – one machine’s backup will overwrite the other. This means if you have different files in these directories on each PC, only the files on the machine that most recently performed a backup will be available.
Memset also says SquirrelSave shouldn’t be used for backing up network storage, and when we attempted to back up a NAS mapped to a drive letter, a dialogue box appeared saying we wouldn’t be able to do this, despite the fact our NAS had already begun backing up. We don’t know whether this will be removed from future versions of SquirrelSave, but for now it’s a useful feature.
Recovering files is simple enough; clicking the Retrieve button shows a list of recent backups, including all backups in the last 12 hours, then one from one, two, four, eight days ago and so on. Deleted files can be recovered for up to 32 days, and files stored in the first backup will be kept forever.
There’s no web interface or mobile app for SquirrelSave, so you’ll have to come up with your own methods if you want to access files while on the go. You’ll need to download a File Transfer Protocol (FTP) client that supports SSH encryption, and you’ll need to transfer an SSH key from your PC to the device you want to use. It’s a very convoluted process which might not even work if your settings are slightly misconfigured. We tried it and were able to get it working with the open-source FileZilla Windows client, but had no luck using an Android-based piece of software. In short, it’s not worth doing unless you’re absolutely desperate to get hold of your SquirrelSave files remotely.
As a simple backup utility, it’s hard to beat SquirrelSave in terms of value. However, despite its charming simplicity, it is starting to look long in the tooth, and with no mobile or web applications available, it is behind all its key rivals. So while we’re happy to give it our Budget Buy award, if you’re looking for anything more advanced, we strongly recommend you consider SugarSync or LiveDrive instead.
|Operating system support
|Windows Vista/7/8, Mac OS X 10.6+, Linux
|Number of computers
|Unlimited (different folders)
|Folder and file restrictions
|Multiple data centres
|Automatic, every 1-24 hours
|Back up open files
|Back up entire disk partitions
|Back up external disks/NAS devices
|Save backups to local media
|Send backups by post
|Recover previous versions of files
|Unlimited, on a doubling timescale
|Recover deleted files
|32 days; initial backup kept forever
|Restore from DVD/USB drive sent in the post
|Web access to backups
|Share selected backup contents
|Mobile device support
|Price per month
|Price per year