McAfee Online Backup is an online backup service from the folks at McAfee Inc, who are most commonly known for their antivirus software. This online backup service is actually powered by Mozy, with McAfee adding “unlimited” backups and setting a low yearly price of $59.99 per computer. In this review, I’ll take a look at how it performs, and let you know if this is something you should use to backup your data.
- Unlimited storage space for backups
- Money back guarantee
- Fast upload speeds
- Restrictive file filter skips large video files, by default
- Web interface’s security certificate has been revoked
- Backup only; no file sharing features
- No mobile apps
- Had trouble connecting to backup service, during testing
The Bottom Line
Although McAfee Online Backup offers fast backups and unlimited space, it suffers from buggy software and archaic file filters that don’t backup all your files.
Using McAfee Online Backup
The welcome screen gives new users an overview of the service, explaining that it can backup files in case of deletion, corruption, or hardware failure. It also explains it’s not a file sharing service, and that files deleted from your computer are deleted from your online backup after 30 days.
After signing up for an account, downloading the software, and installing it you’ll be asked to create backup sets – types of files that McAfee will automatically backup for you. Any files falling into these backup sets can later be restored, in case they are deleted or some other disaster happens to your hard drive. You can also use the “File System” tab to select files and folders to backup, rather than the “Backup Sets” tab which groups them by file type.
Problem #1 – Doesn’t Backup Large Files
You would expect an online backup service to backup all your files, right?
Right off the bat, I noticed McAfee skipped some of my video files. It skipped a few MKV and MP4 files, even though it backed up a smaller MKV file. I discovered this is because McAfee employs file-size filtering, to prevent users from backing up large video files – the same filters Mozy uses. That’s not good for those with HD videos or other big (and probably important) files.
You can disable the size filter, but this is poor oversight on McAfee’s part. Most users probably wouldn’t even notice the file filters are in effect; they’re hidden in the settings for each backup set. It should be noted this only applies to files added via backup sets; if you add a folder directly via the “File System” tab, all files will be backed up regardless of size.
Problem #2 – Buggy Software
During testing, I regularly encountered “FilesystemError3” errors, which occur when there’s not enough free space on the hard drive. McAfee (like Mozy) needs a lot of free space when uploading large files, since they’re copied to a temporary folder before being uploaded. There’s no way to change this temporary folder, so the only option is to free up space.
I also ran into a strange situation where McAfee hung on a “connecting to backup service…” message. There was nothing I could do to resolve this, except restart the program.
These errors completely stopped my backups, with no assistance on how to resolve them. I consider myself pretty good with computers, and even I was stumped. An average computer user probably wouldn’t even notice the errors, and the data just wouldn’t get backed up.
Restoring Files in McAfee Online Backup
McAfee Online Backup lets you restore files from from the client software, which I was able to do without problems. While restoring my files, the download speeds were fast – about 3,000 KBps.
Web Interface Is a Disaster
I wasn’t able to restore my files from the web interface because my browser told me the website’s security certificate had been revoked. I guess someone at McAfee forgot to renew it.
Unlimited Backup Space
McAfee advertises “unlimited” backups powered by Mozy. Since Mozy does not offer unlimited backup space, I was a bit skeptical of these claims.
However, McAfee does seem to deliver on their unlimited promise. I was able to backup 150GB at my maximum upload speed, without any issues.
When you’re backing up to the cloud, security is a prime concern. An online backup service should ideally encrypt users’ files, so that they can’t be read if a hacker or other unauthorized person gets a hold of them.
McAfee Online Backup uses 128-bit SSL encryption to transfer files to their servers, and 448-bit Blowfish encryption to store them. This offers pretty good security for most users, but not all. McAfee does not offer personal encryption as an option (using your own encryption key), so they control the encryption process. Those with high-security needs, such as businesses storing confidential customer data, or anyone that wishes to use their own encryption key, should not use McAfee.
When choosing an online backup service, you want to make sure the tech support is top notch. McAfee offers free web, chat, and email support for their customers 24/7. There is phone support, but you have to pay extra for this (free phone support is offered for 30 days).
Unfortunately, when I contacted McAfee tech support and they were clearly not knowledgeable about their own product. The tech I chatted with didn’t even seem to know McAfee had an online backup service. It was a very disappointing experience.
Should You Use McAfee Online Backup?
In light of the errors I encountered, I can’t recommend McAfee Online Backup to backup your data. The software is just too unpolished for me to feel comfortable trusting my data to this online backup service.
|Product Name||McAfee Online Backup|
|Average Upload Speed||7.4 Mbps (5 Mbps connection)|
|Average Download Speed||23 Mbps (30 Mbps connection)|
|Free Online Storage|
|Keep Deleted Files||30 Days|
|Back Up to Local Drive|
Sync and Share Features
|Public File Sharing|
|Data Center Location(s)|