The Office Letter
Blink Section - Product Reviews
From Volume 7, Number 7
(August 13, 2007)
You can’t be too careful when it comes to protecting your data. If you don’t already have a favorite backup program, consider Backup4All Professional ($50, $44.95 for a limited time; http://www.backup4all.com/).
Getting started is easy: Using a wizard, you give the backup a name, choose which files to back up (you can select individual files or entire folders), tell it where the files should be stored, and run. That’s the simple view. Backup4All can handle more complicated backup requirements. (See Figure 1.)
For example, Backup4All is flexible in the destinations you can pick from: a locally-connected drive (your hard drive, CD/DVD drive, or a USB drive, for example), a LAN drive, or via FTP to a remote location. If you choose a CD/DVD destination, you can choose to erase the disk before beginning the backup, and use a built-in driver (you pick the write speed) or the UDF file system.
You also select the type of backup: full, incremental (just what’s changed since any backup, including the last incremental backup), differential (what’s changed since the last full backup), or "mirror,” which is the same as a full backup but without the compression into ZIP files and without password protection of a regular backup. (A mirror is a good choice when you need an exact copy of the source -- as when you duplicate all files on a disk to a second disk.) Note: A good discussion of the difference between incremental and differential backups can be found on the company’s Web site: http://backup4all.com/incremental-backup.php.
A backup catalog keeps a copy of your configuration options (filters, destination, etc.) as well as a list of the files and folders that have been added to the backup. You can choose the ZIP settings (compression level, for example) and you can specify the maximum size for a ZIP file (to enable splitting the backup into multiple files).
The wizard also asks if you want to back up all files or select (filter) the files you want to back up, so you can choose to only back up only .DOC/.DOCX files, for example. You can also specify an "exclude” filter (to back up everything except .PPT files, for instance). You can filter using wildcards or by file attributes (read-only, archived, etc.). The program offers some sophisticated logic to your file selection; for instance, you can choose to backup only files where the date modified is between two dates (you specify the date range).
You can tell Backup4All whether the program should compare the backup copies to the original, have the program delete all source files or delete empty directories after the backup is complete. You can define what program(s) you want to run either before or after the backup, what sounds to make in the event of success, errors, or warnings, and what e-mail to send a report to (you can attach the backup log if you wish).
Last but not least, you can schedule the job to run on a regular basis, using Windows’ scheduler or its own built-in schedule system.
Once the backup goes to work, Backup4All displays a progress indicator. Because you can set the priority of the backup itself, the program shouldn’t interfere with your current work -- and Backup4All can even back up open files so there’s no need to shut everything down and take a break while the backup runs.
When you find you need to recover a file, the Restore option lets you place the archived file to the original or to a new location and choose which files are recovered. It’s simple and efficient.
The help system clearly spells out what each option does; I referred to it frequently to understand the more complex options. My first few backups were executed using the default options -- backing up all files in the selected directories, for example. As with most software, the more I worked with the program, the more I understood what options I wanted to use and which I could safely ignore.
There are other bells and whistles; for example, backup definitions can be grouped, so you can have a set of "daily” backups stored in one group and weekly or monthly backups stored in another group. Using an Outlook-like interface, you can click on a group name and see the different backups for that group (see Figure 2).
We did have problems on one machine using rewriteable DVD media. When we tried to put two backups on the same disk, the first backup worked fine but the second caused the system to hang. Backing up to hard drives gave us no such problems.
You can’t be too careful about your data, and Backup4All does a good job using a well-designed interface, with plenty of bells and whistles for more experienced users.
A "standard” version ($40, $29.95 for a limited time) may be all you need if you don’t want e-mail notification or AES 128, 192, and 256-bit encryption. A full comparison chart is available at http://backup4all.com/feature-matrix.php.
-- James E. Powell
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