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Hands on with HP's online backup application, Upline

Not a bad backup application, but it won't solve all your needs.

HP has entered the online backup space with a new product called Upline. It's a decent cloud-based backup product at a good price point, but it has a few frustrating limitations.

The good news first: The software is simple to get started with (critical for a backup application) and the paid plans provide unlimited storage for your documents, photos, music, and video files (also critical--who wants to count bits when signing up for data insurance?). The system checks for new files by default every 15 minutes, and uploads your data to the HP-run servers in a quiet background process.

Upline's desktop widget.

There's a free version that gives you 1GB of online storage for a year, but if you're serious about backup you'll want one of the paid versions. The least expensive $59/year Home plan gives you the unlimited storage and allows up to three PCs to share the online storage pool. Family plans and small office plans give you individual storage bins, and the business plans also give you an administrator's dashboard.

The product allows for Web-based access to your backed-up files, which is very nice if you want to grab a something when you're away from your PC. You can also share files via e-mail (recipients get links, not the files themselves) or publish files for public access.

Upline can also back up files to a local device, such as a second hard drive, a server, or a PC on the local network. I don't know of any other products that handle both local and Web-based backup. It's a very cool feature.

The product is based on Titanize, which HP acquired when it bought the company Opelin last year. I've always thought Titanize was an underappreciated backup application. Perhaps HP was listening.

Now, the flip side. The biggest turn off is that Upline does not backup e-mail files. That's planned for the future, according to HP, but backup users will need it now. Imagine losing your e-mail archive. Enough said.

Another missing piece: System restore. Upline is a document and media backup product. It won't store your programs or system settings. So if your hard disk crashes, you can't use it to rebuild your system.

The application doesn't offer PC-to-PC sync (see FolderShare, BeInSync, SugarSync), which to many is an obscure feature, but I think it's one of the most valuable data safety and convenience applications you can have on a personal computer. There's no virtual drive, such as XDrive has, which makes using the service just a little more tedious than it needs to be. Also, it's PC only on the backup side, although any machine with a browser can view Upline archive pages. There's also no mobile client. Finally, the search feature seems to only search file names, not files' contents.

Upline is neither a perfect backup tool nor a complete integrated online storage suite. However, at this price point, given its unlimited backup space and its straightforward sharing options, it's a good deal.

The desktop application is pretty straightforward for a backup product.

See also: Mozy and Carbonite.

This review has been updated from the original: Information was added on backing up data to a local device.