Norton is a branch of the Symantec company which was founded in 1982. The company is currently headquartered in Mountain View, California, in the heart of the Silicon Valley. Best known for their PC antivirus products, Norton offers 25 GB of secure computer backup which can be purchased in conjunction with one of their antivirus programs or purchased as a standalone product.
The Norton Online Backup 25GB plan offers a full-featured 30-day trial. Users simply visit Norton's website, click on free trials, and select the Norton Online Backup 25GB. If they do not already have an account with Norton, they will create one. The account will automatically convert to a paid account at the end of 30 days, unless the user otherwise informs the company of their desire to cancel and not continue their free trial.
Users may select automatic or manual backups. The default setting for backups is automatic. Backups can be set up to run daily, monthly or weekly. Users can manually back up files on demand, which is helpful when wanting to move files to a new machine, etc.
During a backup session, all data is compressed, encrypted and stored on a secure server. Norton keeps a backup of all backups on a second server in a different location, giving added security through redundancy. When the backup is complete, the files are organized into a single folder, labeled by date of backup. Users can select which files they want to include in automatic backups, e.g. documents or photos.
Users have long complained about Norton's software slowing down their computer during day-to-day use. Norton Online Backup 25GB runs as a background app, like their other products, and there are customer reports of this causing some lag on their systems during various tasks. This is no more than for other Norton products, and considered negligible by many already accustomed to their system's performance with Norton.
Performing the actual backup yields above-average speeds. Independent performance test results by PCMAG.com showed that Norton Online Backup 25GB performed with the best companies which they tested. The test consisted of using a high speed connection, backing up 188 files in 100 folders. Norton Online Backup 25GB was able to complete the task in 3 minutes, 10 seconds.
Norton Online Backup uses incremental backups, meaning that they use block-level backups, to speed up the process. Users also have the option to select the speed at which they want their backups to happen. This feature allows users to determine how much bandwidth is dedicated to performing backups. Norton recommends scheduling automatic backups during a time which the computer is not being used for other tasks, maximizing speed.
Norton Online Backup has allows up to 25GB, and users can fill that 25GB in any way that they like. However, previous versions of the same file are only stored for 90 days on the servers before they are automatically purged by the system. In the instance that a user wants to keep several versions of the same file for longer than 90 days, Norton recommends saving the versions with different file names before backing up which are easily identifiable to the user and will not be seen to the system as duplicates, avoiding automatic deletion.
Subscriptions for Norton Online Backup 25GB are paid in advance and in annual subscription terms. The subscription is $49.99/year. Subscriptions allow customers to backup up to 5 devices - Mac, Windows, iOS and Android operating systems are all compatible. There is not a dedicated mobile app for iOS or Android devices. All backup needs to occur within an internet browsing session.
Users can purchase additional storage for their account in increments of 5GB. The added cost to upgrade storage for an account is $29.99. Compared to other companies, Norton Backup 25GB is more expensive per storage, with some companies offering 1TB for about $10 more.
An area which Norton Online Backup 25GB could be improved is the availability of the files after being backed up and stored. Users report that while the files are available, they are not easily found and are missing several features available with other backup companies which allow them to view images or listen to music from the backup without downloading the files. Users can download previously backed-up files to any device with an internet connection, but this feature is not one of Norton Online Backup 25GB's strongest.
Norton Online Backup 25GB allows access to files from any device which is connected to the internet, however users are not able to play music files directly from Norton's backup dashboard, they must first be downloaded. As the company does not offer a dedicated mobile app for backups, as do some of their competitors, mobile users are not able to display or play media files without first downloading them.
Users have commented that they find the organization difficult and unfriendly, with files being stored in folders by date. Customers who are better organized in labeling and organizing their data on their computers are better able to find files which they need, e.g. a file named "Vacation Photos - Summer 2012" or "Work Documents XYZ Proposal" is easier to find in a main dated folder than simply "Pictures" or "Documents." While this is not an issue with the service, it bears mentioning as it improves the user experience significantly.
Norton Online Backup does not offer much as far as additional features; it is simply a barebones backup service. Dedicated mobile interface is lacking for backup, even though mobile is included and can access with a web browser.
Norton does not disclose the level of encryption of data during transmission or while stored on their website beyond the following statement, "Your data is protected with high-level encryption, while being sent over the Internet and while stored on our secured servers." Attempts to gather specific levels of encryption via customer interaction yielded varying results, with some attempts being answered with the statement above or by saying that the software used for security is proprietary. The Review Team was able to receive information that 256-bit SSL encryption is used at all times.
While the company is well-known as an internet security provider, and has gained consumer confidence, it would be very helpful for users to feel more secure, especially since other companies include specific information about their encryption.
The online product manual is fairly comprehensive and easily understood. Many questions about using the product after installation can be easily answered with this tool.
Attempts to gather information from Norton via live customer service have been reported as being difficult. The company does not offer much information about Norton Online Backup 25GB, and when customers try and contact customer service, they are treated to either long wait times or being told that the agent cannot answer their question without escalating to a higher support tier.
During attempts by the Review Team to determine if these experiences were isolated events or the norm, during an online chat session routed to the Norton Online Backup team, the agent would not answer basic questions about the price of additional storage or if the price for the subscription increased after the first year, the Review Team received the same message reported by customers:
Norton Online Backup with 25GB is one of our backup program best offerings. This is use to make backup process through Secure Online Storage. For you to get better assistance what is best for you, we will be setting a callback for you so our Level 3 support can be able to assist you better and select the appropriate program for your needs.
Assistance of this variety is not truly assistance, and frustrating. The company boasts easy access to customer service, but do not actually deliver quality customer service via all of their channels. Hold times for agents exceeded 10 minutes for multiple attempts by the Review Team, at varying times of day.
Live customer service support is greatly lacking for Norton Online Backup 25GB. One gets the impression that the company is depending upon its reputation alone and not willing to give further information about their products.
Norton Online Backup 25GB is simply a secure online storage and backup service. The company does not add features into this product, such as remote wiping of data if the device is lost, etc. The company does offer a package in which users can add internet protection to backup services, but these packages do not reflect a discount for bundling.
I've used Norton in the past, and while it is a very great product it is also extremely annoying. I hate how it constantly pops up and bothers me. I feel like I would like the product a lot better if it didn't annoy me with its presence so much. Just be in the background doing its thing instead of popping up randomly to remind me it's there.