SOS Online Backup Review
Though SOS Online Backup does an okay job overall, its pricing scheme should give buyers pause.
By Joseph Gildred – Last Updated: 28 Dec'17
Infrascale’s SOS Online Backup has been providing backing up user data since 2001. While it doesn’t come at nearly as attractive a price point as some of the other services we talk about in our online backup reviews, it comes with one major advantage you won’t get with some of the more value-based options: speed.
Thanks to a global network of servers based in the U.S., Australia, India and the Ukraine, SOS Online Backup makes full use of your internet bandwidth by avoiding some of the server congestion issues that seem to plague many other options.
During this SOS Online Backup review, we’ll weigh the cost of service against that speed advantage, as well as look at security, support and other key backup features to figure out where it stands in relation to the rest of the best online backup field.
For those who want something a bit more tl;dr, the quick version is that the service provides some excellent backup features like mobile and NAS support, private encryption, true archiving and unlimited versioning. However, it also misses on important features like continuous backup, browser access to files and two-factor authentication, leave it feeling like a bit of mixed bag.
For a better option that also hits on speed but at a more agreeable cost, we’d recommend checking out Acronis True Image (read our Acronis True Image review), instead. Unlimited online backup provider Backblaze (read our Backblaze review) is another great option, if you have a little more patience.
If you’re a business user, there’s also an office version of SOS Online Backup, although it’s also marred by a price that will only appeal to those with deep pockets, and doesn’t otherwise hold up well against some of the other best online backup for business picks.
Interested in finding out more? Stick with us as we break down the details in full, or try the service out yourself with a 15-day free trial.
- Fast speeds
- Hybrid backup
- Mobile backup
- NAS backup
- Private encryption
- Very expensive
- No continuous backup
- No browser access to files
- Two-factor authentication
SOS Online Backup provides disaster recovery for both computers and smartphones. The smartphone inclusion is nice, since many competing backup services are only designed for computer backup.
However, while you can backup unlimited mobile devices, a single subscription limits you to just five computers. While that’ll probably be enough for most home users, IDrive (read our IDrive review) lets you backup both unlimited phones and computers, and at a better price.
Supported computer operating systems include Windows and Mac, but not Linux. See our best online backup for Linux article for some ideas in that department.
Smartphone backup is available for Android and iOS.
SOS Online Backup doesn’t impose restrictions on file size, type or number of files, which these days is pretty standard for any online backup. So is continuous backup, but that, surprisingly, isn’t a feature that SOS Online Backup provides.
You can only schedule backups, either hourly, daily or weekly. We’ll get into that more when we dissect the backup and recovery process, later.
A related miss is that SOS Online Backup doesn’t let you throttle upload or download speeds, which, like continuous backup, is pretty standard with modern backup tools. There is an option to limit the volume of files you backup in a given day, but that’s not nearly as useful.
Archiving and Versioning
Other features we like include true archiving, which means files deleted from your computer aren’t automatically deleted from the cloud, and the option for private encryption, which means you get to hang onto your encryption key so nobody else can read your files.
We’ll get into encryption more when we discuss security, as well as some security misses like no two-factor authentication.
SOS Online Backup also provides unlimited file versioning, although that will take up some backup space. That said, because backups are run at the block level, meaning only parts of files that changed are backed up rather than copying the entire file, versioning shouldn’t put too much of a strain on your backup space.
Mirror-image backup isn’t an option with SOS Online Backup for Home — just the business version of the tool. If imaging and cloning are features you need, our best image-based backup overview provides some alternatives.
SOS Online Backup does let you share files saved to the cloud, but only from your mobile device. Most other backup services that provide a sharing feature also let you do so from a browser UI. This isn’t surprising, because SOS Online Backup also doesn’t let you access files you’ve backed up from the browser interface, which is just bizarre.
Like we said in the intro, SOS Online Backup is something of a mixed bag.
SOS Online Backup offers tiered pricing for home users, starting at $4.99 per month for 50GB. We appreciate the fact that the service gives you so many subscription tiers to choose from, which most backup services do not.
$ 4 99monthly
$ 44 99yearly
$ 7 99monthly
$ 79 99yearly
$ 9 99monthly
$ 99 99yearly
$ 12 99monthly
$ 129 99yearly
$ 20 99monthly
$ 199 99yearly
$ 39 99monthly
$ 399 99yearly
$ 159 99monthly
$ 1599 99yearly
$ 299 99monthly
$ 2999 99yearly
However, beyond that, the pricing is pretty disappointing, being quite a bit more expensive than competing solutions. $4.99 for 50GB of backup storage just won’t get you very far, and comparable solutions give you far more backup space for a similar cost. Backblaze, for example, gives you unlimited backup for $5 a month.
Pricing isn’t everything, but it’s our opinion that SOS Online Backup doesn’t give you enough extra value besides speed to justify shelling out more money over better priced solutions.
Getting SOS Online Backup running on your home computer requires downloading and installing the client for your operating system. The whole process takes about a minute.
Once installed, you’ll need to login using the credentials you created when you setup your account.
Immediately after logging into the client, you’ll be asked to continue as a regular account or switch to managed encryption, called “standard ultrasafe,” or personal encryption, called “ultrasafe max.” We talk about that more when we review SOS Online Backup security.
Afterwards, you’re ready to begin backing up. The desktop interface is fairly minimalistic and assists you in creating a backup plan by scanning your hard drive to make recommendations. See our “backup & recovery” section for details.
You can also log into the web UI for a dashboard that’ll let you quickly check backup statistics like total used space and notifications.
There are also browser views for monitoring processes and generating reports. While most home users won’t need these features, it’s nice to have and an area when some of the competition falls short.
Other noteworthy features of the web UI include the ability to cleanup your backup space by setting retention and versioning policies.
Access to the SOS support portal is also available, as is an option to locate your device.
Oddly enough, for all of the different perks the web UI gives you, the developers seem to have left out the ability to actually access the files stored in the cloud from the browser. You can only do so from the desktop app or the mobile device.
Turning to the SOS Online Backup mobile app, we found the experience much more in line with our expectations. In fact, its one of the better that we’ve used. That there are only ten thousand downloads for Android is likely due the fact that the service just isn’t priced well.
The mobile app home screen menu lets you access your cloud storage and create a mobile backup plan.
The only downside is that you can’t select which individual images, videos and other files get backed up. You can only choose to backup a certain file type.
Overall, SOS Online Backup doesn’t do anything exceptionally useful when it comes to facilitating user experience and in fact is missing a few features of convenience, like access files from your browser. It isn’t difficult to use, just a bit limiting and unorthodox.
Before you start backing up your hard drive, you’ll need to instruct the SOS Online Backup client what files to copy to the cloud. The tool helps you along by automatically scanning for files to backup.
Kick of the scan by clicking the wrench icon to configure your backup.
The scan will run and return a report of files found and estimated backup space required.
You can skip the scan process if you want to, but in our tests it only took a few seconds to complete. Either way, click “next” to continue setting up your backup plan.
The next step is to manually tag content for backup. This can be done at the folder or file level. Results of the scan are highlighted in red and included automatically.
If you ended up with far more files to backup than you have backup space available, you’ll need to either increase your storage or exclude some of the files automatically included. This part of the process can take some time, though it’s faster than approaches taken by competing services like IDrive and Carbonite (read our Carbonite review) thanks to the help from the scan.
The client lets you know how close you are to your backup cap with a handy gauge near the bottom.
Click “next” when you’re finished and you’ll be asked to configure some settings, most of which can be altered later if needed.
The big decision is what schedule your backup will run on. Unlike most online backup solutions, SOS Online Backup doesn’t default to continuous backup, which is a means of protecting files as they’re added or edited.
Instead, it defaults to a daily schedule. You can decrease that to hourly backups if you’d like, but with the smallest interval being only one hour, true continuous backup just isn’t an option with SOS. This is one of the online backup solutions major flaws and a good reason to consider other options if you require more rigorous data protection.
If you prefer, you can go with manual backups instead by toggling off the “back up even without user intervention” option.
Prior to starting the backup process, you can also select to backup to the both the cloud and a local folder, which an be an external drive. This lets you achieve a hybrid backup solution, which nets you the advantages of both cloud and local storage.
There’s also an option to setup your retention policy for files deleted from your computer. Interestingly, this option is off by default, meaning SOS Online Backup offers true archiving. Useful, but if you’re working with limited space, you’ll probably want to set the client to remove deleted files from the cloud after 30 days or so.
Once done, clicking next will begin the backup. A window will keep you informed of the progress, but if you close it, SOS Online Backup will keep running in the background.
The client shows your file upload speed, but doesn’t give you any useful information like how long your backup might take. See “speed,” next, to find out how long backup took during our testing.
Use the client to restore files by clicking the “view/restore” button.
You can browse files stored in the cloud or use a search bar to find them more quickly if you know the names
You can restore files to their original or a new location. If you’ve set up personal encryption, you’ll need to enter your password before completing the restoration.
As mentioned, you can’t restore files from your browser — just the desktop and mobile apps. This is definitely a mark against SOS Online Backup, as browser access to files is one of the key conveniences of most online backup tools.
Initial backups can take quite a bit of time if you’ve got hundreds of gigabytes to backup. Some backup solutions, like Acronis True Image, run much more quickly than others, however.
To see where SOS Online Backup compares, we conducted a series of simple backup and recovery tests using a 1GB compressed folder made up of different file types. These tests were run using a WiFi network with 10 Mbps upload and 30 Mbps download speeds.
Here are the test results:
|Test One:||Test Two:||Average:
|Upload:||21 minutes||23 minutes||22 minutes|
|Download:||8.5 minutes||10 minutes||9.25 minutes|
While with a 10 Mbps upload speed, you might expect that we’d see a 1GB file uploaded in about 15 minutes, most online backups run slower, likely due to encryption processes and generally thin infrastructure compared to cloud storage services like Dropbox.
The upload times weren’t quite as zippy as Acronis True Image, but faster than most. We often see online backup services take over an hour to upload a gigabyte, so anything less is better than average.
The download times were also very good.
Part of the reason for the good speeds is likely that SOS has server locations around the world. Popular value-based options like Carbonite, IDrive and Backblaze, meanwhile, are limited to the U.S.
SOS Online Backup doesn’t let you throttle file copy speeds, which is a miss. Another miss, and one that’s much more common, is that SOS doesn’t provide any form of courier recovery or backup service for home users like IDrive. Courier services can mean much faster speeds for large data loads
By default, files sent to SOS Online Backup aren’t encrypted. However, you’re given the option of adding 256-bit AES encryption, which we suggest you take.
You can either choose to let SOS generate and keep your encryption key, or you can choose personal encryption. Personal encryption means private, end-to-end encryption — also known as zero-knowledge encryption.
If you want to maintain control of your encryption key, you need to make that decision before you start backing up files. You can’t change it later, which is normal for online backups offering private encryption.
While more secure, the downside of private encryption is that SOS Online Backup won’t be able to reset your password if you lose it.
Files sent to SOS are also protected in transit using SSL/TLS to prevent online eavesdropping. Again, this is pretty standard fare.
Once at the data center, files are stored on servers. Presumably, copies of files are stored on multiple servers for redundancy and the facilities are secured against natural disasters and cyber and physical threats. However, SOS doesn’t provide any sort of security whitepaper to get a read on the measures in place.
Apart of an absence of information about security procedures, the big miss with SOS Online Backup is that it doesn’t give you the option to turn on two-factor authentication (2FA).
SOS Online Backup maintains a support center for DIY help that’s accessible via the browser interface. Articles are searchable and split between home and business backup. They’re further divided between device type with categories for Windows, Mac and mobile.
At the time of this writing, there are 89 separate articles for home users. You find guides like “getting started,” “restore” and “troubleshooting.” The articles themselves are pretty thin, but often supplemented with video, which is convenient.
If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can also contact SOS customer support for direct support. Available channels include support ticketing and live chat.
We like the live-chat option and were able to get in touch with an agent in just a few seconds.
Chat support hours run seven days a week, 24 hours a day
There’s no question we were impressed by the speed of SOS Online Backup, and given the file upload issues that impact so much of the rest of the online backup field, we don’t doubt that some people will be happy to pay up for this service.
However, some people are also happy to pay up for a new Ferrari, too. For the rest of the world, the cost of service prohibits SOS Online Backup from really standing out in the backup field. On top of that, odd quirks like the lack of browser-based file access and continuous backup make the service feel a bit dated.
Power users with a need for speed, not to mention hybrid and NAS backup requirements, are better off going with an option like Acronis True Image or even CloudBerry Backup (read our CloudBerry Backup review) paired with Amazon S3, Google Cloud or Microsoft Azure for storage. True Image, like SOS Online Backup, also provides mobile device support.
That’s all we have to say on SOS Online Backup for now. If you think you can stomach the cost, it’s not all bad, but we’d recommend going with the 15-day free trial, first. If you can’t stomach it, our best online backup picks provide plenty of other options to sort through.
Let us know what you think of SOS Online Backup in the comments, below. Thanks for reading.
|SOS Online Backup Features|
|SOS Online Backup|
|Free Trial||14 Days|
|Price||Starts from $ Array per month|
|Free External HD Backup|
|Bare Metal Backup|
|Exclude File Extensions for Backup|
|File Size Limit||Unlimited GB|
|Share Photo Albums|
|Server Side Encryption||256-bit|
|Keeps deleted files||Unlimited|