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2.8 out of 5 stars
2.8 out of 5 stars
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The blurb around F-Secure's Online Backup makes a lot of the importance of backing up one's files (true) and the fact that most users do not have the technical nous to set-up a backup routine that works silently and regularly in the background (also true). I backup my music and photo files to an external hard drive on a frequent, albeit ad-hoc basis. However, I know that I should also have a backup away from home, should my computer equipment ever become damaged or stolen. I might not be running a multinational company, but my files are important to me and ever more so as time moves on.

I was intrigued by this product. I have never used an F-Secure product before, but being a Finnish company, I figured they would produce well designed software with a clean, intuitive interface. Not quite.

The application window is a fixed width and if you have long folder paths (e.g. D:\My Documents\My Videos\2009\January\Childrens Birthday Party\) and/or long filenames, you will not be able to read the full path properly nor navigate easily. This makes selecting folders to backup frustrating and I was never fully sure that I had actually selected all the folders and files required for backup. The process of selecting which folders and file types you want backed up is convoluted and difficult; certainly not intuitive. There is a "right mouse click" fast-track option to select files and folders for backup which is preferable to the comprehensive, windows-based method - however, one is never fully certain that every file type has been selected using either option.

Given the product is aimed at people who are not the most technically minded, I would expect a better user interface.

The restoration process is probably a little easier to operate; "Restore Now" restores all files that are older than the ones stored online. Restoring a single file or folder is more complicated because the interface is so inelegant and navigating to it is needlessly hard.

Naturally, backing up large amounts of data over the web will require you to ensure that you have the bandwidth allowance to upload and download that data. Equally, because the data is "on the cloud", restoration speed is limited to network speed. Restoring hundreds of Gigabytes of data is going to be time-consuming and bandwidth and quota dependent. As a fallback of last resort, the online backup is a great option. However, one needs to understand the limitations of this approach. It's not going to be appropriate if you use 3G Mobile Broadband services, for instance.

Finally, given the interface and price of this product, I cannot bring myself to recommend it. The price (just under £40 at the time of writing) seems reasonable for unlimited backup, but remember that this is limited to one computer for one year. Alternatively, you could try one of the Cloud based services, such as Dropbox or Mozy Home. Mozy Home offers unlimited storage for about US$5/month or less if you pay for a year or more in advance.

Sorry Amazon and F-Secure. This product doesn't meet the needs of its target market.
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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Let's be honest... we all carry a whole bundle of memories on our PCs, but most of us a re pretty lazy at backing them up. Sure we might have a USB stick or an external drive, but we keep them near our computers which almost defeats the point.

F-Secure's online backup is simple to use and so far it certainly seems effective. My one complaint is that the blurb implies you can easily share files with friends, yet when I've looked more closely it appears this is actually not possible.

Basically though, for peace of mind, this is a small price to pay.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 October 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
F-Secure Online Backup 2011 is the kind of backup system you might want to implement if you have limited computing experience, or if you have a non-IT literate friend or relative who you want to ensure has their most important files backed up. The classic example is the digital photo collection. How many people are destined to lose a decade's worth of family photos when their laptop hard drive finally gives out?

I'll say right now that if you want to take control over exactly what is backed up and have the choice of a variety of options, this isn't the solution for you. There are other solutions out there catering to the power user, but F-Secure is aimed more at the basic end of the spectrum.

It comes with 'unlimited' backup storage for one single PC for one year. After that time, you'll need to extend your subscription. If you have multiple PCs, you'll need multiple subscriptions running in parallel. What does 'unlimited backup' mean? According to the FAQ document it means - 'The F-Secure Online Backup program allows you to back up all personal files on your hard disk securely, regardless of the total number of files'. Also note that 'No single files can be larger than 2GB'.

Installation is very simple on Windows. Once the software is installed, you are prompted what options to choose - whether to back up automatically or decide what to backup yourself. In the interests of saving time and bandwidth, it may be worth opting to limit the scope of the backup. By default, the following is backed up across all physical hard drives in your PC (note that no external hard drives whether mapped network shares or attached USB drives may be selected):

Office Documents -
Microsoft Office Docs: Word, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Publisher, Project, Access, Fax at work, Money, Visio
OpenOffice Documents: OpenOffice and OpenOffice 2 applications
Desktop Publishing Docs: InDesign, QuarkXpress, PageMaker, FrameMaker
Apple iWork Docs: Pages, Keynote, Numbers,
CAD Drawings: dxf, .dwg, .mac, .pla, .pln, .pz3, .pzz files.
Other Docs: .pdf, .txt.

Pictures and Videos -
Image Files: jpg, .jpeg, .tif, .tiff, .crw, .cr2, .raw, .nef, .dng, .orf, .pef, .ptx, .raf, .gif
Creative App Docs: .ai, .eps, .cpt, .cdr, .cdx, .fla, .png, .psd, .psb, .psp, .eps, .dxf, .fhd, .fh9, .graffle, .wec. .xar.
Video Files: .wmv, .mov, .3gp

Music Files -
Common Audio Files: .mp3, .m4a, .m4p, .wma, .aac, .mp4 * N.B. audio files are not automatically backed up *

E-mails (this is a nice feature - it'll backup emails at an individual mail level while Outlook is open) -
Windows: Default e-mail application (Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows e-mail, Thunderbird).
Mac: Thunderbird and Mac OS X Mail.

My Important Files -
My Documents: Files in your My Documents folder (default selection). Only the supported file types are included in the backup.
Desktop: Files in your Desktop folder (default selection). Only the supported file types are included in the backup.
Favourites: Files in the Favorites folder of Internet Explorer (default selection). Only the supported file types are included in the backup.

You can assume that your backups are pretty secure - files are encrypted using 3DES encryption, and uploaded to F-Secure using 128-bit SSL encryption, which is as secure as most of the competitor online backup systems. However, you may not specify the encryption key yourself.

The first issue I encountered was, when trying to specify exactly which Outlook folders to backup. I wanted to exclude my SPAM folder from the backup. However, repeated attempts to navigate to and deselect this in the interface resulted in the interface freezing, requiring me to terminate it. After several attempts and a couple of reboots, I was able to uncheck this box.

Selecting files and folders in the interface is not hugely challenging - while the dialogue window is fixed width, it is possible to scroll back & forth, so you are able to get to the end of the line as required. However, fixed width dialogue boxes are an unnecessary inconvenience and can be irritating. Partial selections and full selections of directory contents are possible, and partial selections are flagged with a grey box; full selections with a green tick. This is perfectly usable.

In addition to the folder selection dialogue, you can also right-click on files and folders in Windows Explorer and select 'Backup Now'. Indeed, this may be the preferred way to select objects for backup, especially for people not wanting to use the dedicated dialogue.

Every file you select a file or folder for backup, it gets a large orange dot appear over its icon in Windows Explorer. At it's fully backed up, the dot changes to Green. This is not a unique feature to F-Secure, but it is a really comforting indication that your files are backed up.

It's worth noting that files are backed up in the following order (from smallest to largest) and you cannot modify this setting:

1. E-mails.
2. Contacts.
3. My important files (if you have selected files in this category).
4. Other files.

If you accidentally delete a file from the local drive, you have (by default, this can be extended to 45 days) 30 days to restore it from your online backup. After that, the online copy will also be deleted automatically.

Should you be unlucky enough to have a hard drive failure, you need to first re-install and re-license the software on your new drive, then you can restore the files to their original locations, or another alternate location. It is unclear whether you have the same 30 (45) day window to do this before your online backup will be erased.

Bandwidth for file upload may be throttled to ensure that you don't make other web applications (e.g. browsing or Skype) perform badly. The default limit of 60 KB/s seems to work pretty well for a typical high speed broadband connection, but if you find this too much, you can drop it to as low as 10KB/s. On the other hand, you can set it as unlimited. The best approach would be to throttle it while you or anyone else sharing your broadband connection are out of the house, and then to throttle it again when you come back. Once the initial backup has completed - this will take many hours or even days at 1-2GB per day - only changes are replicated.

The second, and rather more major issue I encountered was - when navigating any of the folders protected by the backup selection (fortunately very few in my case) Windows Explorer would often just stop responding, forcing me to terminate the Windows Explorer process completely. I have sufficient technical knowledge to be able to do this - many others may be forced to reboot to rectify the situation. This happened even with my AntiVirus tool disabled, as I thought at first that there may be a security conflict. Only when I disabled the F-Secure backup service did Windows Explorer come back to normal operation. This was not an intermittent issue - I could reproduce it at will. For this reason alone, I cannot recommend this product. There is an amount of work which needs to be done to make it more stable. I'm running Windows XP SP3, which at the time of writing still constitutes the majority of PC desktops, so you'd think it would run well on such a well tested operating system.

So in summary :-

The Good:
- Unlimited backup capacity (in common with most competitors)
- Nice integration with Windows Explorer (in common with most competitors)
- Decent level of file security
- The ability to backup to the level of individual emails
- 'Fit and forget' setup makes this a good solution to implement for a non-technical friend or relative
- The ability to restore to the original or an alternative location
- Unobtrusive background operation
- Low CPU utilisation (average 2% CPU)

The Bad:
- Causing Windows Explorer to hang ***MAJOR ISSUE***
- Backup selection interface can be unresponsive for long periods and even stop working completely at times
- Maximum file size limit is 2GB (this is less than some competitors)
- It is not possible to backup from network shares or external USB drives or memory sticks
- Interface could be improved with resizable dialogue windows
- The file selection interface could be greatly improved
- High memory consumption (average 100MB)

So overall, when compared to other online backup solutions like Carbonite and Mozy, this is not the leader of the pack in terms of functionality. However, my main reservation is its apparent lack of stability, and in particular its tendency to lock up Windows Explorer as well as its own email navigation dialogue becoming unresponsive. This needs some serious attention. Until these issues are dealt with, I cannot recommend this product.

Approach with caution.
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VINE VOICEon 12 January 2011
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Some people will hate me for this, some won't... but frankly I can't see much point of Online Backups unless you travel alot and need access to your files from various places. That's really the only main reason i can see for buying this.
I don't travel around the world and if I do need access to files I have a portable hard disk. This hard disk cost twice the pricet of this, and yet holds at least 4 times the GB capacity. Do the math.

Anyway, that's a mini-rant out of the way. If your house burns down, then yes, you have a backup available online.
That's basically what the average user will get out of it.

I can't not recommend this, but i have no reason to get excited about it, either.
It does it's job, so if you know you need it, get it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 28 November 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If, like me, you're someone who has learned the hard way that taking backups of your data is something you really ought to have been doing, you probably have an external hard disk that you back up your system and files to once per week. This is a great way to recover your data if your computer dies - you just plug the external disk into your new computer and copy the data back. It's not quite so useful if your house burns down, taking your computer and the external hard disk with it. That's where the idea of an online backup comes in. With this package, you can store as much data as you like in a safe place somewhere on the internet, so that if your house burns down, you at least have your digital photos, important documents and so on available to restore once you get a new computer. Sounds great, doesn't it?

Let's not get carried away. There are some big limitations. Firstly, the license only lets you back up files from one computer (and not from any external hard drives, which is a pain if you keep all your photos on an external drive). Secondly, if your internet connection isn't very fast, it could take a very long time indeed to copy all your data to the backup site. ADSL lines are much slower in uploading data to the internet than they are in downloading (note that this limitation affects all online backup programs, not just F-Secure). Thirdly, the license lasts for a year, and if you don't renew, all your backed-up data will be deleted. Finally, you can't back up files bigger than 2GB - although that's probably not a bad thing, because on my 6Mbit/s ADSL line, it takes about 24 hours to back up 2GB.

I also notice performance problems on my internet connection when files are being backed-up. Latency (ping response time) rockets from 120ms up to 950ms. My internet radio stutters. Internet browsing is noticeably slower. You can slow down the backup process if you want, but that means the backups take even longer. There's also an option to pause the backup if you find it's getting too much in the way.

Incidentally, although you get an installation CD in this package, you don't need it. The program can be installed directly from F-Secure's webpage and the version there is more recent than the version on CD, so all you really need is the license key that's included, which converts your trial license with 2GB storage into the real thing. The packaging says the program works with Vista (32bit and 64bit), XP (32-bit, SP2 and later) and MacOS X (10.4.9 or 10.5.x or later). It doesn't mention Windows 7, but the program works fine on Windows 7 64-bit (I haven't tried it on Win 7 32-bit, but I see no reason why it wouldn't work). As part of the installation process, you need to register on the F-Secure website.

The manual looks impressive, but there are just 8 pages in English, so it's just as well the program is quite easy to use. I didn't have any issues with application stability, but I do find the file-selection dialogues frustratingly narrow: you can see the files' names or their size and date but not both at the same time.

The backup options are "My Important Files", which means you choose the directories you want backed up yourself, or you can select one or more categories of files for F-Secure to back up. The categories are "Office Documents", "Pictures and Videos", "Music" and "Email". The categories aren't as useful as they might be, because they can't be configured, but the "My Important Files" option works well.

Once the initial backup is complete (this may take days or even weeks), the backup continues to monitor your files. Every time you create a new file or change an existing one, it gets backed up within a few minutes.

Restoring to the same computer is easy: click the "Restore" tab, choose your files and whether you want the local copies overwritten if they exist, and click "Restore now". The files are restored as quickly as you internet connection will allow (which will normally be faster than the backup).

If you're restoring to a different computer - if your first computer has died, or you're upgrading - you'll need your F-Secure website username (your email address) and password and the license key. If you can't find the license key, there's a "chat with a support technician" option on the website: they can provide you with the license key (when I tried this chat feature, I got an effective response within two minutes). If you are permanently transferring to a new PC, you need to restore all the files you want to keep, and back them up again, because the backups are tied to a specific PC. You have 30 days to do this after you transfer your license before all your files are deleted from the F-Secure server.

For protecting against a hard disk failure, I would strongly recommend an external hard drive, which is much faster than backing up to the internet. For protecting your vital files against a major disaster at home, as long as you have all those files on an internal hard drive on one computer, and as long as you recognise the time it may take to back your files up, F-Secure might be worth considering.

A couple of notes:

1) Although you can't normally back up external drives, for some reason F-Secure lets me back up my Pogoplug network-attached drive as though it's a local drive. I assume this is unintentional on the part of F-Secure, but it's useful. I can't use F-Secure to back up USB-connected drives.

2) The blurb says you can share files with your friends and family. You can't. Your data is held securely, and it can only be restored by you, not looked at by anyone else.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
To add to the other reviews rather than duplicate what has been said:

This piece of software is very basic and works, but has some pretty nasty traits along with it. It installs quickly, has an online userguide, and is simple to use. It backs up and restores without too much fuss. Those are the good points.

However the bad points are:

1) Windows Explorer can freeze when you're navigating the folders that are being backed up. This is due to the software hijacking your thumbnails are overlaying a green or orange symbol on the thumbnail to represent backed up / not backed up yet. If you stop and resume the software these disappear and all is well. It was worse when there was a lot left to backup for me.

2) It is horribly slow. I have a 10Mbit connection and it's done around 4GB in 40 hours of processing. This isn't good in my eyes, and it's not limited to my connection and I've unlimited the transfer rate.

3) It doesn't recognise your removable media (USB drives etc). The only way I could get it to backup my USB drive was to navigate to the folder itself, right click and back up. It won't let me do this through the GUI.

In summary - a very average bit of software. I recommend you compare other online solutions first.
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VINE VOICEon 20 November 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This nearly got a really bad review, because my initial impression when installing it was pretty bad. For some reason the installer wouldn't run from the disc. Since it's also available as a download I installed it from that instead. When that installed it prompted for a system restart (which tends to bug me). Then the first time I tried to run it (admittedly without a reboot) it didn't run and claimed there was no net connection when there was.
However, when I rebooted the machine went into a restore OS on the disc, so the F-Secure installation disc is also a means for restoring files when your system is completely broken, which is clearly a good touch.
After the reboot back into Windows, the program started OK and registered the key just fine. Going into the options for it, there were options for backing up your documents, music, photos, videos, etc, as well as for backing up particular files and folders. This gives the means to quickly select the types of items to back up as well as offering freedom to be more specific as you see fit.
For restoring files you can similarly restore all photos, or all music (although a slight negative is that its idea of music files is MP3 or WMA, not FLAC, not OGG, not AAC, etc), or select files from the backup to restore.
The other good feature is being able to set how much bandwidth it can use for its file transfers. However, while this is less common and good, perhaps related important feature that is missing is the option to schedule when backups are run - the general idea seems to be that it runs continuously.
I'd perhaps prefer deleted files to not be automatically removed after 30 days, and some kind of dated backup would be good, although you wouldn't necessarily expect that from this class of backup product - it's more about if you accidentally delete a file, or you have a hardware failure or the like.
Overall, the price is better than most for an unlimited annual backup subscription, and for less than £5/month it provides a good level of backup provision for home users in a piece of software that (installation issues aside) is pretty easy to use.
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VINE VOICEon 14 November 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The main problem I see with this is upload speeds. I installed the software, chose the option to backup pictures and videos, and it started uploading. Later when checking the documentation I found that it backs up any pictures or videos on the local drives regardless of whether they are system files or personal files. I have many genealogy scans of documents saved in my documents.

Most of the time I left my PC on 24 hours a day. After a few days I changed the power settings to make sure it didn't go into sleep mode. I also changed the settings to use the maximum upload speed and "Use more computer resources". Doing this had no noticable effect on the performance of my PC but hopefully speeded up the backup. No dramatic change though. In the end the back-up took about 27 days for 30Gb.

The backup categories seem odd. There is Office Documents (MS Office & OpenOffice documents), Pictures and Videos, Music, and Email. That would seem to miss out any other documents which are not Office or OpenOffice. E.g. proprietory formats used by genealogy programs. I realised later that probably the best method is to use the "My Important Files" option and simply selected the directories to backup (e.g. "My Pictures" & "My Documents"). You could add Mail if you don't use a web based mail service like Google.

I see this method of backing up a last resort option, rather than the primary back-up method. E.g. just in case your house burns down and all your back-up disks were in the house.
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Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm going to explain my star rating first. 2 Stars - For most Mac users this will work fine and not give them any issues; it is easy to install onto your mac (though unusually it needs a reboot) and the standard settings will likely capture your files.

The low ranking though is because F-Secure online backup for Mac is behind the times - If you have a modern iMac or a MacPro and you have more than one internal hard drive or an external drive array it cant backup the secondary drives. Its not noted in the sales literature but on the Online Backup software support forum is a note;

"Due to current product limitations, Online Backup for Mac OS.X will only support one internal hard drive. All current released versions have the limitation."

Limiting to one drive wouldn't be an an issue - but it only looks at the Operating System Disk - on my and many other new imac's the boot drive is a small solid state disk and my hard drive is for storage - Online Backup can only see the SSD which is really only for the operating system. This limitation also stops it working with external hard drives or USB sticks.

Accepting its limitations I have tried to test the software in a limited fashion by putting files onto the operating system disk that F-Secure can backup and restore to. The software is very un-mac like but is reasonably obvious what it is doing and how to change the settings - you have the ability to specify down to the folder level and it doesn't use a lot of resources when its running. On my NTL broadband the backup and restore speed is quick and certainly better than Apples own iDisk.
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on 18 November 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As other reviewers have pointed out, there are a few drawbacks with this software. Though it boasts 'unlimited storage', and you can indeed upload an unlimited number of files, those files can only come from one PC/Mac, and no individual file can be over 2GB. That can be pretty limiting in and of itself.

The upload times are also painfully slow, but I'm sure faster internet connections will alleviate that somewhat. It just seems the programme itself, and its online servers, aren't quite cut out for the job of expediting things.

Also, you cannot backup from any external drives. This means you have to upload files from your computer, delete them to make space, then copy the files from your external drive to your PC/Mac before uploaing them to F-Secure. It's a bit of a pain in the arse.

This software also uses a lot of your computer's memory to save, which almost defeats the purpose, but it only uses a small amount of your virtual memory. However despite this, the long upload times still mean it's best to leave it running overnight or while you're out at work. It also causes Internet Explorer to cut out intermittently.

The file section interface could be improved, as it rapidly gets irritating scrolling to see longer file names, etc. It shouldn't be a fixed size at all, really.

This software is great for amateurs, but perhaps less good for computing pros. That said, it's not too expensive and it makes a nice change to lugging your portable harddrive around.
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