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24 Feb 2012
(2.5 Stars out of possible 5 stars)
Reviewed on Feb. 24, 2012
Those who cannot be bothered with mastery over technology will find MyPCBackup an attractive option. The Online backup tool created by the Hampshire, UK based company of the same name, is simple to install and even simpler to use.
MyPCBackup is a recent addition to the cloud backup Industry. This Public Limited Company was established in 2010 by Daniel Richards with a clear agenda to create and deploy a Online backup tool that meets the needs of individual users with unlimited storage wants and limited budgets. The website almost screams out the fact that storage is unlimited (with a ceiling clause–on how much data can be uploaded per month–tucked into “terms and conditions”). The number of licenses that can be obtained by a single user is also unlimited. Users can sign up for multiple licenses for a single storage account. A free trial offering urges the user to give it a “try” before making the “buy”.
The feature page on the website informs the user that the tool allows backup scheduling, versioning, automation, permits synchronization of multiple computers, and anywhere, anytime access to files and folders. Bandwidth throttling and idle backup are a definite “inclusive” in the feature list.
Any kind of computing device can be hooked on to the online backup account. Users of Windows, Mac, iOS/iPhone or Android will just have to download and install the automatically pre-identified, appropriate agent on their device. A Linux version of the software is in the pipeline. Backup of network drives is not yet permitted, however the website promises the introduction of Business plans in 2012 that will permit backup of network drives soon.
User support is guaranteed via email, telephone, live chat, FAQ, Blogs, Knowledge bases or tutorials. A number of video tutorials are also available for those who like visual and guided support.
While the volume of data to be backed up determines the time frame for initial backup, MyPCBackup claims that a user with a fast Internet connection can backup data at the rate of 3-4 GB per day. However, there is a restriction on file size for upload. The maximum size of the file that can be uploaded is 3 GB for all paid accounts.
Users can view the files that are in the process of being backed up by accessing the account on the web from their PC or iPhone or they can view the status of the backup by accessing the agent interface installed on the device. File sharing and photo sharing features are enabled. Very large files can be shared. Files and photos can be restored by web download to another computer or to a physical media. However, FTP access is yet to be incorporated into the feature offering.
Security is enforced by 256 bit encryption algorithms, which is sufficient to lay the claim of being bank grade. Data transfers are made over Secure Socket Layers to server farms for additional security, high availability and disaster recovery.
While the pricing structure (costs decrease as the account subscription timeframes increase–$9.95 for a monthly subscription and $4.95 per month for a 2 year subscription) has a large bearing on the widening customer base, the company’s large footprint in the United States, the rapid growth of the company must be linked to the quality of the services customers get from the company. Any number of testimonials of good service can be obtained from discussion forums and Internet sites.
However, the picture is not completely rosy. A quick look at the different forums or even the Company’s own FAQ page will show that there are glitches and problems—some technical and some non-technical—that users face while installing and using the software. This is likely to have been caused by the companies switch to Amazon S3 servers, a much more robust, secure, and larger Storage system. These are also the same storage servers as Dropbox, Something that can only be a positive.
On the whole MyPCBackup is a definite recommendation for those who are not looking for sophisticated, ultra secure data backup solutions.
Type: Public Company
Company Size: 159 employees work at the parent company, JDI (Feb. 2012)
Industry: Computer Software
Headquarters: My PC Backup, Unit 6, Fulcrum 2, Solent Way, Whiteley, Hampshire, PO15 7FN, UK [Google Map]
CEO and Co-Founder: Daniel Richards [LinkedIn Profile]
CTO and Co-Founder: Brooke Bryan [LinkedIn Profile]
Marketing Director and Co-Founder: Nick Baker [LinkedIn Profile]
MyPCBackup Tag at BackupReview.info: http://www.backupreview.info/tag/mypcbackup/
Competitors: Carbonite, Keepit.com, IDrive, Backblaze, Mozy and many others
Market Focus: To be the most feature rich online backup and cloud storage software company in the world.
Positioning: “MyPC Backup is currently the fastest growing online backup service today. Leading the way with revolutionary technology and for-thought, MyPCBackup offers affordable solutions in an otherwise over priced market. Many competitors in the industry are stagnant, and do not wish to evolve with the ever changing demand for storage. MyPCBackup now offers many incredible features that others simply do not”.
- Access via webpage: http://www.mypcbackup.com/help-center
- UK: 0844 4457025
Pros and Cons
* Low cost solution with a pricing model that attractively links subscription timeframes to per month costs.
* No file type restrictions
* Backup automation and scheduling
* Ability to synchronize files between multiple computers
* Ability to access files from remote mobile devices and other computers
* All backed up customer files are stored on Amazon S3 servers
* Not very sophisticated 256 bit encryption algorithm
* Windows firewall or Windows Defender or anti virus software may interfere with the operation of the software and users may have to disable them for smooth performance of the software
* Does not work if other programs are attempting to access and lock computer files
* Cancellation of account cannot be initiated by the user; rather it will be performed by support team on receipt of email from customer
Registering for the MyPCBackup Registration is a three step process. Navigate to the home page of the company website and use the form available on the top right hand corner of the page to register. The user needs to enter only three parameters—full name, email id and password—to complete the registration.
Downloading the Agent
Once registered, the user is taken to the download page where the small 17.7 MB exe file can be downloaded. The web application automatically senses the operating system in use on the system and downloads the appropriate agent software. Agents are available for Windows XP/Vista and Windows 7; Mac OS 5. A Linux version of the application is on the pipeline and is expected to be released soon. A number of operating systems for handheld devices are also available. For the purposes of this review, we downloaded and installed the agent for Windows 7. Double clicking the icon that gets deposited on the desktop initiates the installation wizard which guides the user through the installation process in a matter of minutes.
On completion of the installation, the Login screen opens prompting the user enter the email id and password that were selected during the registration process. After login, the password or the email id can be reset by navigating to the change password or account details page on the website. Note that the screen contains a link to the “Forgotten Password” screen.
Users attempting to access the account and its contents over the Internet after backup from a different computer can use the web browser based application for login and account access.
Local Agent Dashboard
The login screen gives access to the backup account details screen (please see screenshot below) displays all the relevant details of the user account—space availability, space usage, backed up files, Backup Schedule, Last backup and next backup. It also contains a number of buttons—View my files, Open Sync folder, Backup now, Backup settings, Restore files and Help center. While “View my files”, “Restore files” and “help center” buttons need an Internet connection to open the relevant page on the online account, “Backup Now” button is a command button that initiates a backup even if it is not scheduled to kick into operation. The Backup settings button opens another screen of the agent application wherein the user can tweak the backup settings. The Open Sync Folder opens a folder on the C:// drive that was created during the installation process. All files and folders marked for synchronization are deposited in this folder and later uploaded to the online Synchronization folder on the remote server.
The application interface also provides two other links that are placed just below the buttons. The first link “What is being backed up” will open the online backup folder on the remote server and give the user a peek into the files that are currently being backed up. The second link “How Long will my backup take” takes the user to the FAQ page of the Company website.
Online Account Dashboard
The online dashboard is only visible if the user logs in from a computer on which the agent has been installed. In all other instances, the user is returned to the login page even though the web application acknowledges and authenticates the user login and password and identifies the user. This rather defeats the purpose of the anywhere access feature of the cloud. The user will have to compulsorily download and install the agent software before the account can be accessed for viewing or bare metal restore of files.
The dashboard provides an aggregated single window view on user account information. The page displays the number of licenses held by the user and the number of computers that connect to the account for synchronization of files and folder, the number of files and folders added to the synchronization folder, the status of the backup, links for additional license downloads, etc. The comparative screenshots presented below will provide the reader with a clear picture of the contents of the dashboard before and after events have been triggered. Every completed action is scored off, while pending actions are shown as incomplete, allowing the user keep track of all account activities. Users can upgrade to a higher storage by clicking on the relevant link on this page.
Scheduling Backups and Tweaking the Backup Settings
The “MyPCBackup Settings” screen is a tabbed screen with seven tabs named General, Backup Schedule, Backup Selection, File types, Authentication, Security, and Power & CPU.
The General Tab informs the user about the PC on which the agent is installed and the email id through which the local PC is linked to the MyPCBackup.com account. The details—such as the name—of the local PC and the device type are detailed. The device can be a laptop, a handheld computer, a server or a PC.
Users have the option of Scheduling Backups automatically on an hourly, daily or at a specified time schedule. They can also set the schedule to manual, and initiate backups as per their convenience at any point in time. If automatic schedule is selected, the Backup start time and any automatic pause time can be prescribed.
By default, the backup process backs up all the files available under “My Documents” folder. However, users can choose to create a specific backup set by selecting the “Manual Backup Selection” (Advanced users) radio button. The files selected for backup can be edited at anytime using the “Edit Selection” link. MyPCBackup.com prescribes a limit on file size for upload. Paid accounts can upload file sizes of up to 3 GB. The trial version only permits a 2MB file size for upload as shown in the screen shot.
The File Type tab allows users specify file types that must be excluded from the backup set. The file types to be excluded need to be entered into the text box in CAPITAL letters and separated by a comma.
The Authentication Tab provides access to the Change password settings for the account.
The Security Tab recommends that the user select HTTPS connection for upload of files. The alternate is the HTTP (without the “S”) setting which is faster but not so secure.
The last tab—Power & CPU–in the backup settings screen allows users to configure the agent for power saving and optimization. The backups can be made to automatically pause when the system is running on battery and to run when the system is idle.
The Backup Process
If the backup is set to automatic, the process will kick start as per schedule and will complete in the background without disturbing the daily event calendar of the PC being backed up. The status of the current backup can be ascertained from the Backup in Progress screen on the agent interface.
The online dashboard sequentially lists all the backups done–per PC/laptop/server connected to the account–to date and indicates the status of the backup. A backup status can be failed or completed and the computer status can be online or offline.
Viewing Backed up Files
Users who need to confirm that the files have been correctly uploaded can use the online web browser based application via the Internet and view the backed up files. The online “View my files” can be accessed from the agent interface by clicking the button bearing the appropriate label. The files and folders in the online account are displayed in a fashion that is similar to Windows Explorer. Individual files can be opened and viewed or downloaded by double clicking on the file.
Synchronization of Files and Folders
Files and folders can be synchronized across computing devices using the synchronization feature of MyPCBackup. A synchronization folder is automatically installed on C drive during the installation process. All files and folders dragged and dropped into the folder or marked for synchronization by right clicking on the file/folder and selecting “Copy to sync folder” in the cascading menu will be uploaded to the online synchronization folder as per defined backup schedule. These files can be accessed from anywhere, anytime and from any computer. (See screenshot below)
My Sync Folder by default provides for 100 MB of space. Additional space can be requisitioned from the company with every upgrade of storage space. 5 GB, 10 GB and 20 GB Sync folder options are available.
Files can be restored to any PC or computing device from the online account provided the agent is downloaded and installed on the PC or computing device. The user can click on the Restore Files button available on the agent interface to initiate the restoration. The files available for restore—Source wise—is displayed on a Windows Explorer like interface and users can download individual files on to the PC. There is, currently, no FTP download option available and downloading individual files can be a daunting task if the volume of backed up files is very large.
Users can share files and folders with other users by marking them as shared. Sharing of files and folders can only be done on the online web browser based application interface. Users need to login to their online account and navigate to the files and folders that must be shared and mark them as shared. Thereafter, it is only a matter of entering the email id of the friend or colleague and sending them the invite using the invite screen that pops up.
Note that once your friend or colleague ends the sharing session by closing the file, a fresh share invite will have to be sent if the file has to be opened again by your friend or colleague.
MyPCBackup harnesses the power of 256 bit encryption algorithms to secure the data that is transmitted from the computing device to the online server. An additional layer of security is provided if the user selects to transmit the data over a Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Support MyPCBackup provides multi-channel support to their customers. Users can contact the support team 24X7 over telephone or email. Additionally, the site has provisioned for a ticket system for registration of complaints. Users who feel the need for immediate attention, can avail themselves of the live chat facility that is made available on the website. The most frequently encountered problems have been addressed in the FAQs that are available on the site and accessible from the agent interface and over the Internet. An extensive knowledge base with video tutorials is available for those who are looking for more granular information on how to use the software and its features.
The plus for this product is the fact that it is extremely user friendly and easy to install and ideal for the technologically challenged novice or the individual user with a few computing devices. While, multiple computing devices can be synchronized to a single online account, enterprises with large number of systems may not find the “best fit” solution that addresses their needs. They would perhaps be looking for something that is more robust and sophisticated. However, for the individual user and the home user, it is a secure and cost effective way of storing information even when the add-ons have to be requisitioned at an additional cost. There are not many advanced settings and features to grapple with. If the user does not want any sudden surprises, it is recommended that they check out all the plans and essential add-ons to get a fairly accurate idea of what the actual budgetary outlay required and what they are really committing themselves to.
The “unlimited” storage option does not really come free. It has a price attached to it. Space availability is unlimited, but users have to pay a price for the usage of the space. The file size that can be uploaded to the account is “limited” and upgrades are available at a cost.
© 2012 – BackupReview.info
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