DaniWeb has looked at Network Attached Storage in the shape of the myDitto server which offers excellent value in terms of both cost and capacity . DaniWeb has looked at a personal cloud device in the very pink format of PogoPlug which is great for anytime and anywhere sharing . DaniWeb has even looked at traditional backup software which dispenses with your own hardware and moves your backup into the cloud, as exampled by the Acronis Online Backup product.
Best of all worlds
However, all of these have their own particular drawbacks be it complexity of setup and usage or maximum data storage restrictions to name but a couple. Wouldn't it be nice to have a totally secure data backup and sharing solution that 'just worked' without any hassle, didn't cost the earth and imposed no limits on storage capacity? In other words something that encompassed all the good bits of traditional NAS and backup solutions, and then threw in the advantages of the cloud as well? Enter SafeSync, a rebranded and revitalized incarnation of what used to be known as Humyo until Trend Micro acquired it.
Reasons to be cheerful
This is the same SafeSync that Trend Micro bundles for free with the Titanium Maximum Security 2011 product as reviewed by DaniWeb , so why would you want to pay $5 a month for it? Two reasons: 1. You may not have nor want the Trend Micro security suite. 2. The free bundled version has a maximum 10GB of data storage which may not be enough. You can add a third reason if you are in the market for a fire and forget data backup and sharing solution without storage limits but with some seriously impressive security credentials in terms of data encryption and access failsafes and safeguards: all of this peace of mind comes in at a rather reasonable $5 a month. If the value of your data isn't worth $5 a month then you either don't need to be backing it up in the first place or, as I suspect is more likely, you have seriously miscalculated that data valuation.
Getting started really couldn't be simpler, although it would be nice if it were a tad quicker truth be told. You start by selecting the data you want to backup and keep synchronised using SafeSync, and this is made easy by using the data groups you are used to such as My Documents, My Music, My Videos, My Pictures, Favorites and Contacts.
This may take some time
Once you've done this, you can sit back and relax. Or better still, go and do something else like read War and Peace or build a model of the Houses of Parliament out of matchsticks. In fairness, Trend Micro does pop up a screen which warns that "It may take some time for the first sync to complete but in future only the changes to your files will be transferred making syncs almost instant" although replacing 'some time' with 'best left to own devices overnight' would probably be more appropriate given my experience.
On the plus side, you can get on with other stuff while SafeSync drags a copy of all your data onto its servers and a configuration setting is available that allows you to adjust how much of your broadband connectivity is devoted to file transfer and how much is left for web browsing and the like. As with all things SafeSync, Trend Micro have ensured that this is also dead easy by employing a simple slider with Fast Internet at one end and Fast Transfers at the other. Don't worry if you turn your computer off before the first sync has completed, SafeSync is clever enough to simply carry on where it left off when you switch it back on again.
System resource impact
Once you've successfully uploaded all your data initially, and got past the historical slowness of doing so, the good news is that SafeSync switches from marathon mode to stealthy 100 metres sprint mode. Seriously, not only does it work effectively in the background to the point where I actually had to check it was indeed still working during the first day of testing as I thought it might have shut itself down or gone into some kind of standby mode, so light (to the point of non-existent) was the impact on system resources, but it works incredibly speedily as well. Bearing in mind I decided to give SafeSync a run for its money in testing terms by installing it on far from the most powerful netbook the world has ever seen, I experienced no noticeable slow down in either web browsing or general productivity application usage. What's more, and just as impressively, every document I changed and every file I saved was instantaneously uploaded and synchronised in the cloud.
This is, dear reader, data backup as it should be. What it isn't, of course, is a system restore solution nor a drive imaging solution. There is no big restore button to get you out of trouble if aliens zap your hard drive, but there is peace of mind in knowing that the important stuff (your data) is not only all still there but bang up to date (no worrying about when you last actually ran that full backup routine) but also instantly available on whatever device you have around to grab it. What that means, in my real world at least, is if my netbook is stolen or, more likely, left in the back of taxi or on the train, then the document I had been working on for the meeting I was attending will still be there, in the cloud, and accessible on my iPhone or using a desktop machine at my destination as if nothing had happened. When I get back to the office or return home, same thing for me as it happens, that data will also be available to sync with another netbook, laptop or desktop. Applications are easy to reinstall, especially if you are like me and most of them are in the cloud anyway, it is my data that is most valuable. SafeSync completely understands this, and ensures that my valuable data is always available no matter what spanners I may throw in the works to confound that goal.
Let's look at the how and why of that statement shall we? For a start SafeSync offers truly unlimited data backup without scheduling. This removes the double-edged worry of most traditional, and many cloud-based, backup solutions of 'have I run the backup routine today?' and 'do I have enough storage space for this backup, or will I have to upgrade to the next service level payment band?' For me, removing scheduling from the equation is an absolute godsend. After all, I have yet to experience a hard drive failure or theft that happened on schedule. The continuous and automatic backup and, equally importantly, synchronization of my data by SafeSync circumvents scheduling altogether yet without impacting upon system performance. As long as the SafeSync synchronization client is installed on every device you want to sync with, everything is handled automatically.
SafeSync and secure
Of course, all of this is for nothing if your data is not secure. It is this issue of security that keeps many from moving data backup into the cloud, where that security issue is being palmed off to a third party, and firmly in the physical hardware territory of the NAS device. However, that's where SafeSync scores a truly massive hit: Trend Micro comes with a 20 year history of securing data on the desktop and managing Internet content security. If you are going to trust your data to someone in the cloud, then you could do a lot worse than opting for that outfit to be a long established security vendor. So what does Trend Micro SafeSync bring to the data security table? How about financial institution grade 256-bit AES encryption for data transfer, a permissions-based structure requiring specific permission to view any file to act as a failsafe against software bugs, security industry standard (as you might expect from a security vendor) firewalls to defend the cloud infrastructure hardware, plus load balancing and multiple independent storage clusters with continuous backup to ensure your data is always available when you want it. Oh, and in case you were worried about data privacy, Trend Micro promises that nobody at their end will access your files without your prior permission.
Trend Micro SafeSync works with Windows 7 (32 & 64-bit), including Windows 7 Starter Edition, Window Vista SP2 (32 & 64-bit), Windows XP SP3 (32-bit only), Mac OSX 10.5.8 or later and 10.6 or later and supports the following web browser clients: Internet Explorer 7.x & 8.x (32-bit & 64-bit), Firefox 3.5 and higher, Safari for Mac 4.x and 5.x, Chrome 5.x, iPhone Safari and Windows Mobile IE.