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McAfee launches online backup service

For $60 per year, McAfee's new online backup service offers you an unlimited amount of online storage space.

McAfee Online Backup has a lot of options and a rudimentary interface that could be intimidating for novices. Screenshot by Dong Ngo/CNET

McAfee, one of the world's largest Internet security providers, wants to go one step further in keeping your data safe. It now offers to store your backup data for you.

The company announced Thursday the availability of its McAfee Online Backup, an online backup service that automatically uploads data from your computer's hard drive to a remote server via the Internet.

While online backup services are nothing new and have been available for a long time from many providers, such as Carbonite, Memeo, or Cuku, the main difference with the new McAfee Online Backup service is that it's one of a few that offer unlimited storage space.

For a fixed annual fee of $60, you can back up as much data as you want. This could possibly the best deal around for online backup, especially for anyone with a lot of important data and a high-speed Internet connection.

Other than the generous amount of storage, according to McAfee, its new service, which is powered by Mozy, is secure and comes with easy-to-use software.

I tried the software out briefly, and it was, indeed, easy to install and get the first backup up and running.

Once you have registered an account with McAfee, you can download the software and install it on your computer, much like you would do with the company's security software. When the install is finished, the software tests the speed of your Internet connection, which later helps determine how long it will take to get the first backup done.

The software offers a lot of options, such as Bandwidth Throttle that limits how much of the Internet connection is used for the data upload, and Backup Speed that lets you choose either fast or slow backups, to lessen the impact on the computer's performance.

McAfee Online Backup can automatically detect and find important data, including bookmarks, e-mail, contacts, documents, photos, and so on, to back up for you. You can also manually back up any folders of your choosing. Once everything is set, the software will take care of the backing up on its own. Depending on the amount of data and the quality of the Internet connection, the first backup can take a very long time (perhaps days), but after that, only data that has been changed will be backed up.

It's worth noting, though, that even when you set the backup speed to optimize for fast backup, the software seems to upload data rather slowly. If you have a cable connection and have tens or hundreds of gigabytes, expect the initial backup to take days to complete. Also, the software's unfriendly interface and the overwhelming amount of unexplained options could be intimidating to novice users.

Nonetheless, overall, this seems to be a decent backup solution and could be the most affordable for those who have a lot of data to back up. If you don't have already have a reliable backup service, consider trying it out, as it comes with a 30-day money back warranty.