Symantec Rolls Out New Norton Online Storage Service

Norton Online Backup allows the backing up and securing of files such as digital photos, financial documents and e-mails from up to five PCs in a household to an online site that can be accessed through a Web browser, said Jeff Kyle, group product manager for consumer products at Symantec.

That is a primary difference from many other online storage technologies that require the user to use the same PC for backing up and accessing online files, Kyle said.

Symantec also sells a business-oriented online storage software service called Symantec Protection Network, which it unveiled about a year ago as its Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform.

The Symantec Protection Network online data backup and recovery service is aimed at helping small and midsize businesses get access to online data protection, with one fee to cover the service, maintenance and support. The service leverages legacy Veritas backup and recovery solutions and legacy Symantec services management technology, and it relies on some redundant data centers that Symantec has set up for customers to use for online backups.

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Because Norton Online Backup is a browser-based system, users can access and restore files from anywhere, he said.

Norton Online Backup is a Web-based application, so only a 3-MB client application for signing in to the system is actually loaded on the customer's PC. That client application allows access to the files over the Web from anywhere, Kyle said.

Customer files are stored and secured on Symantec-hosted vaults, Kyle said. The data is protected by 256-bit AES encryption on the servers and by 128-bit SSL encryption during the transfer process. The data is further protected by redundancy between Symantec's data centers, he said.

Symantec is offering the service with a starting price of $49.99 per year, which includes 25 GB of compressed storage, with no extra charges to transfer data into and out of the offering, Kyle said. Some customers looking for special offers can also get 5 GB of storage for $29.99 per year, he said.

The company is selling its service direct to customers and will be signing OEM partners, and expects to make it available through retail as well, Kyle said.

The service will primarily compete with similar services offered by Carbonite and EMC's Mozy.

Mozy was acquired by EMC early last year, and is now the base on which EMC is building a SaaS offering.

Norton Online Backup is based on technology from SwapDrive, an online storage service provider acquired by Symantec last June.

Prior to the SwapDrive acquisition, Symantec had a two-year OEM relationship with the company. SwapDrive technology was in use as part of Symantec's Norton 360 antivirus and data protection offering. "But we've rebuilt it from the ground up as a new product for Norton Online Backup," Kyle said.

That gives Norton Online Backup an advantage over many of the other consumer storage offerings, Kyle said.

"It's already proven," he said. "We have over 26 petabytes of stored data through Norton's SwapDrive relationship, which we've been doing for two years as part of our Norton 360 offering."

Symantec is entering an ever-more crowded market with a consumer-oriented online storage service.

In addition to established competitors such as Carbonite and EMC Mozy, it will compete against new faces in the market.

These include companies such as Qwest, which recently unveiled its Qwest Personal Digital Vault online backup service; Google, which is expected to unveil its GDrive service at any time; and maybe even Scott Adams, the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, who has used the comics to plug his DilbertFiles service.

However, entering the online storage market does not guarantee success. Hewlett-Packard is planning to close its Upline online storage service by the end of this month. Yahoo is planning the same for its Yahoo Briefcase service.