By Paul Niemeyer
February 22, 2013
Summary & Verdict (if you don’t have time to read)
With 3GB of lifetime free storage and the ability to expand that storage to as much as 300GB for an annual fee, the goal of the service is to be essentially invisible to the end user, backing up files across multiple devices and platforms to a central location for virtually universal access in a moment of need.
Safecopy Backup is a solid cloud storage and backup service, yet brings nothing new to the table compared to its rivals like JustCloud or SugarSync. It’s interesting that they give the word “unlimited” a little twist: instead of providing unlimited storage you can connect unlimited machines. But is that enough? I don’t think so, but see for yourself.
SafeCopy Backup: Who is it for?
The SafeCopy Backup service is designed to be a great entry-level solution for users who aren’t familiar with cloud-based backup tools and don’t want to manage the service on their own. SafeCopy Backup can be installed to Windows, Mac, or Linux desktops, and the software then works in the background without very much user intervention at all.
The SafeCopy Backup website compares the service to Dropbox, which might be an apt comparison. Both solutions integrate into the operating system and make it seamless to upload files to the server for access or restoration at a later point. In my testing, SafeCopy Backup actually used less memory than Dropbox, reducing the hit to system performance. That’s even more impressive when remembering that SafeCopy Backup isn’t sitting idly in the background. It’s actively monitoring selected files and transmitting their changes to the server on an ongoing basis.
With the free storage that comes with every new SafeCopy Backup account and software installation, the service might be best described as a backup and cloud storage solution for novice users. Free storage gives a great way to test out the service and see how it works, while seamless operating system integration requires little user intervention to take advantage of all features.
About SafeCopy Backup
SafeCopy Backup is part of the CirrusApps LLC providing technology solutions for businesses worldwide and served more than 250,000 end users (according to their website).
Upon first installing the SafeCopy Backup software, users will be asked to select files and folders for proactive monitoring. When changes are made to those files or folders, new versions will be uploaded to the server for retrieval at a later date. If the SafeCopy Backup service is enabled across multiple devices or platforms, folders can essentially be synced between them by using this service as a Dropbox replacement as well.
The Backup: Getting Started After Installation
Though very little user intervention is required with SafeCopy Backup, the first moments after installation will require users to select the files and folders that most require being backed up to the service’s remote server. This can take a little bit of time, especially if there are a number of very specific files that need to be backed up. Of course, users who opt for the 200GB or 300GB premium options can elect to backup their entire internal or external hard disk of they so desire.
When all of the files are selected and the process is confirmed, the existing versions of those files will immediately be uploaded to the server for retrieval at a later point. Proactive monitoring of their changes will continue from that point forward. Though there are a number of great benefits to this backup process, it’s worth noting that the file upload speed with SafeCopy Backup can be painfully slow. In tests, the service managed to muster about 1Mbps to 2Mbps during the upload process. That might be good for some Internet connections, but testing was done using a relatively fast, 50Mbps fiber optic connection.
Another quirk of the software includes its “soft” file size limitation. During the setup process, multiple files and folders can be selected for backup. SafeCopy Backup, however, ignores all files over 200MB in size and will not automatically upload them to the server during this process. Those files will need to be uploaded manually. It can lead to headaches in some cases, especially for those who aren’t aware of the limitation and have no backup of larger files when they need it most.
Restoring Files and Utilizing a Backup
One of the major drawbacks of SafeCopy Backup is the limitation concerning its file restoration procedure. While registration and all backups are handled by the desktop software, file restoration can only take place on the SafeCopyBackup.com website. Files can only be restored by logging in online, navigating to the backed up file list, and then choosing to download a backed up file to the desktop for use. This isn’t very usable at all, especially for a company that bills its service as “invisible” and requires virtually all other processes to take place through its desktop application.
For what it’s worth, downloading a file backup from the SafeCopy Backup website is actually considerably faster than uploading a new file for backup and monitoring through the desktop client. In tests, the download speed was roughly the maximum available throughput for a 50Mbps fiber optic connection. That is a refreshing change of pace, but it should definitely apply to both sides of the transaction when backing up and restoring key files.
Special Features that Set SafeCopy Backup Apart from the Competition
Increasingly, file backup services have decided to cater to the smartphone and tablet demographic. SafeCopy Backup has tried to do the same offering an iPhone application that allows for remote file access using an iOS device on a mobile or Wi-Fi connection. The app’s intentions are good but many people might find it a bit difficult to use at first. The confusing interface can take some getting used to, even for relative iOS experts.
Emphasizing the “safe” in SafeCopy Backup, the company advertises that its highly redundant, remote servers are protected by 448-military grade encryption. That’s impressive, and it’s certainly better than the security most people would enjoy if they used a local external hard disk instead of a remote service managed by the experts.
Verdict and Recommendation
SafeCopy Backup has some interesting quirks, including its web-only restoration of backed up files and its confusing iOS application. Even so, the company offers affordable extra storage at just the right price, and the nearly invisible file backup procedure will ensure that important files are kept safe without so much as a second thought.
The company will no doubt iron out the kinks in its service over time, and that means it currently represents a good value for novice users and those looking for a good bargain in highly secure, cloud-based backup services. Yet, it fails to bring anything new to the table that you wouldn’t get somewhere else with a better infrastructure and possibly better support.