As is the case with the other applications reviewed here, Norton's default settings copy only basic files, including contacts, financial files, pictures, browser favorites and documents. The interface includes check boxes to quickly add music, email and video. You can add any folder or file manually; you can also copy your entire drive, including system files. The program provides a progress bar and displays the percentage of the task that's been completed, the amount of data and the number of files being moved.
While the software can back up a connected external hard drive, it won't back up the system to an external hard drive. Backups can be scheduled, but the program doesn't support continuous backups of files as they are saved.
At any time, you can restore a lost file or rebuild the entire computer from the stored online data. Deleted files stay active on Norton's servers for 90 days.
In addition to restoring any stored file, Norton provides a great way to share material with colleagues or friends via email. All you do is select the file and the service emails a link to anyone; the process can be password-protected.
Norton colocates its servers at several data centers in the U.S. and the U.K. and uses a 128-bit SSL encryption key for online transfers and 256-bit AES encryption on its servers. Data is mirrored at two locations, just in case there's a failure or disaster.
The initial default backup amounted to 1,226 files (190MB); it was completed in just 1 hour, 2 minutes and 7 seconds.
At a Glance
Norton Online Backup
Price: $50/year for 25GB of backups for up to five computers
Works with: Windows, Mac OS X, iOS
Pros: Can back up entire drive; licensed for up to five computers; fast data flow
Cons: Doesn't back up to an external drive; iOS app is beta and there's no Android app
It took Norton 15 hours and 21 minutes to archive the contents of the system's C: drive, six times faster than CrashPlan took to do the same thing.
I was able to perform an incremental backup with 25MB of data in 7 minutes and 23 seconds and the service was able to locate a deleted file in 2.7 seconds. I recovered it in 1 minute and 45 seconds.
Norton Online Backup has a 30-day free trial period; after that, it costs $50 for 25GB. There's no unlimited capacity plan, but a single subscription can accommodate five separate computers, something others charge an extra $2 or $5 for.
The software may be showing its age, but the service is fast and rock-solid.
This story shows the bifurcation of the online backup business these days. Some applications let you archive only your photos, music, videos and other personal files; others can save the entire contents of your hard drive.