Trend Micro SafeSync online data backup service (50GB)

Trend Micro SafeSync review: An easy to use and good value cloud-based backup service

Trend Micro's SafeSync is an Internet-based storage solution that allows you to upload files and access them from any computer or smartphone (iPhone or Android). It's a very similar service to DropBox, but it offers better value for money.

There are different capacities that you can sign up for: SafeSync Lite (20GB) for $39.95, SafeSync (50GB) for $59.95 and SafeSync Advanced (100GB) for $99.95. These costs are for a one-year subscription, and they are much more competitive rates than DropBox in the long-run — for example, a 50GB account with DropBox costs $9.99 per month, which works out to $119.88 per year. The upside to DropBox is that it offers a free 2GB account, which is perfect for users who only want to access and share relatively small files. Trend Micro doesn't offer a free account for SafeSync, but you do get a 30-day trial period to check out the service and figure out if it suits your needs and is worth paying for.

Setting up SafeSync is simple: all you have to do is sign up for an account and download the SafeSync client (it's available for Windows and Mac OS X). It puts a SafeSync network drive icon in My Computer (if you run Windows 7) and you can upload files to the service by dragging and dropping them into this folder. As files are uploaded, a tiny circular icon will appear on the files; once they have finished uploading, that will change to a green tick (just like DropBox). Furthermore, a status icon is present on the Taskbar so that you can monitor the progress of the upload. It's better than DropBox in this respect, as DropBox doesn't give you a detailed pop-up window. If you shutdown your computer or if the upload is interrupted in any other way, SafeSync will continue the next time you get online.

You can install SafeSync on multiple computers to access your files. Additionally, you can create copies of your data on multiple computers simply by right-clicking files or folders in your SafeSync folder and selecting 'Keep a copy on this computer'. You can also access your SafeSync account from any Web browser, but its Java-based interface can be very slow at times. It's not a bad interface though; there is a familiar 'tree' file structure and you can double-click folders to open them and right-click on files to find out what you can do with them.

Apps for the iPhone and Android-based smartphones are also available. We had no problems installing the SafeSync app from the Android Market on an LG Optimus Black smartphone. We were able to browse files and play media files easily.

Unlike DropBox, there is no dedicated 'public' folder for you to place files that you want to share with others. Instead, you can right-click on any file that is stored in SafeSync to get a Web link that can then be shared with anyone. The only downside is that these links show the folder that the shared files reside in. Once you click through to the SafeSync site, it also gives you a link to download that entire folder. This is a little unnerving; the download starts off looking like it is grabbing everything in that folder, when it is in fact only grabbing that one file. Still, we wish Trend Micro would improve this interface to make file sharing a little less worrisome.

The good thing is that you can password protect links that you want to share. This gives you more peace of mind. To do this, you have to click on the 'Link options' that appears when you right-click to create a sharable link. You can add a password and an expiry date to a link.

As for the speed of the service, we used it with our iiNet ADSL2+ connection, which regularly gives us transfer speeds over 18 megabits per second (Mbps). However, the data rate when downloading from SafeSync was only around 6Mbps. Compared to DropBox, which gave us a maximum rate of around 4Mbps, SafeSync was a little faster. The DropBox speed also varied greatly while the SafeSync speed was more stable. SafeSync allows you to play with the speed so that it doesn't always hog your connection while it's running — there is a slider that allows you to control how much bandwidth it uses.

Overall, we like the SafeSync service a lot and think it's a good option for home users and small business owners who want to store relatively large amounts of data in the cloud. Its interface is easy to use and it has lots of capabilities, including password protection for links to files that you want to share, but it can sometimes be very slow.

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