by Bill French on 09/08/11 at 9:00 am
I have to admit, I’m not really prepared to comment deeply on mobile backup services at all. Why? I’ve never used them nor have I ever felt the need to have such services. Perhaps I’m ignorant about this issue, but isn’t iTunes a reasonable backup model that prevents data loss for the most part?
Wirefly is a company that offers many services and products. In a way, they’re like an independent telcom store with phones, backup services, and other connectivity plans. It’s a very busy home page and there’s lots to see. However, for this article I’m going to focus on one service – mobile backup.
I believe the Wirefly service competes with AT&T’s Mobile Backup service which as was developed by Soonr and white-labeled to AT&T in 2009. I suspect there’s an acquisition (of Soonr by AT&T) in the works, and here’s why.
“What’s unique about this [Soonr] service that sets it apart from DropBox and other cloud sharing services, is their seamless PC and Mac integration.Early in the development of Soonr technology, the developers provided easy-to-configure features that would allow users to backup important files to the cloud. AT&T saw this as an advantage and white-labeled the service so that customers could opt-in for basic or premium mobile and even desktop backup services that magically [also] made their information accessible through their mobile devices. But Soonr didn’t rest on the idea of accessibility – it continued to expand its features with remote printing, remote access, sharing with colleagues, and even lightweight team collaboration crept into their vernacular.”
The idea that telco’s want to provide backup and sync services suggests Wirefly is on the right path. Typically large companies don’t white-label tools like this unless customers want them. And cloud services are emerging as the one thing every major tech company has in their sights. Apple’s forthcoming iCloud service features backup and synching capabilities and this is certainly a competitor as far as the iPhone backup market is concerned.
But Wirefly has some unique features – the biggest being the ability to backup over a 3G connection; not a feature in iCloud. This seems like an important one given the backup scenarios listed below. But it is also quite limited – it appears to only backup contacts, calendar, music, and photos, whereas Soonr backs up many document types – especially business documents.
Backup a Necessity?
Hard to say. I think the answer to the question in the title can only be stated in contextual terms. Here are some scenarios where an independent mobile backup option seems like a really wise service to have.
- If you use your phone a lot to capture information such as contacts, notes, audio, perhaps video and you are unable to synch to iTunes for periods of time during which you have captured a lot of data.
- If you receive a lot of data between iTunes syncs via apps, downloads from cloud services, or through email.
- If you and your phone are subjected to harsh environments that are risky and likely to damage or destroy your device.
WireFly Quick Observations
- Pricing – $59/yr for the Pro version seems very reasonable; 2GB seems like plenty of storage so you might want to try the free version before upgrading.
- Setup and installation was seamless – very easy to get started.
- Backup process doesn’t run in the background and you can’t app-switch to do anything else during the backup.
- My contacts (200+) and at least a GB of photos took about 6 minutes over Wifi; not bad. It uses an incremental delta for subsequent backups so only changed files are processed after the first backup is complete.
- Supports multiple devices (up to five with the pro plan) but no support for iPad or iPod touch.
This is a pretty useful service especially if your mobile activities fall into one