If you have ever lost data due to corruption, computer crashes, viruses or anything else then you know how important data backups are. Backup software has normally been very expensive and difficult to use. They sometimes use a proprietary file format which means you must use their software to get to your backups. Backup4all offers a clean and easy to use interface, and because they use the zip format, even if you loose the software or it becomes corrupted you can still get at your files using any number of programs that support zip files.
- Easy-to-use wizards
- Intuitive, Explorer Style Interface
- Easy File and Folder Selection
- Version Tracking
- Built-in CD/DVD Burner
- Standard Zip Compression
Installing software cannot be any easier. You answer the standard questions about location and so forth, and it does the rest.
Setting up the software after it is installed is a little more difficult. There are so many options that it will probably take a while to get it just the way you want it. We will talk about most of the options throughout the review, as we test them to see what they do.
When you launch the program you are greeted with an uncluttered window that is broken up into several smaller sections. You may notice that the button bar has several buttons, but no text. You are forced to mouse over the buttons in order to find out what each buttons does. Even though it only takes a second, it is truly a pain to have to wait for the mouse over text to appear. There is no way to get text to show up or even customize which buttons are located on this bar. It will take a little while to memorize what the buttons do, but once you do you can quickly execute the most often used commands from the buttons. It would be nice if they also gave you options like Windows Explorer which lets you choose if you want the text to show or if you want big or small buttons.
The left most section shows the different groups that you have setup. The software is pre-configured with a sample group which is set to backup your My Documents and Favorites folders. You can add new groups, delete groups and edit groups by right clicking in this window. Each group can contain one or more Wizards. Each wizard is a set of rules on what files you want to backup and how you want to handle those files. Wizards are easily created and configured using either the step by step wizard, or by going into properties and making your changes there.
The top section shows the folders and files that are included with each wizard and if it is a file it will show its size. Next to each file and folder are icons that represent the status of the file or folder in relation to the backup. You can show and hide the files and folders based on their status by clicking on one of the buttons at the top of this section. For example, by default the Show New Files button is clicked, this button is a yellow plus sign, and because it is selected all the new files and folders will have a plus sign icon next to it. As you run the backup process the icons will change to represent the new status of the file.
The bottom section shows the different backups and their versions. This is helpful for restoring specific files from different versions. This can also be accomplished by clicking on the restore button. The restore function gives you several options; you can restore single files and folders or restore the entire backup and everything in it.
The properties window is where you will be spending most of your time configuring the backups. Each backup has its own settings, and from what I saw there was no way to set any global settings for backups. If you have some heavily customized backups and you don’t want to have to make the same customizations to every backup, then you can click the “Create Like” button and it will duplicate the backup. Then you make minor changes to the name, source and destination and you’re done. You can even change the destination to be a CD or DVD burner.
You can also use the properties window to specify a plethora of other settings. Pretty much if you can do it with a zip you can do it with this program. Under “Type” in properties you can specify if you want the next backup type to be differential, incremental, mirror or full. You can also specify a password, maximum number of stored backups and some requirements for making full backups. There is an advanced zip settings button that when clicked opens up a new window where you can set the zip compression, whether or not you want the zip to split when it reaches a certain size and a custom prefix for the zip name.
There are several other menus in the properties that allow you to set up a backup schedule, filters for what kind of files you want to backup, you can also set the process priority, volume labels, and if you want to run any programs before or after the backup. Keep in mind that in order to run the scheduler, Backup4all must be running in the background. In order to reduce the amount of resources this program take and to reduce clutter in you task bar you can have the program minimize on the tray. You do this in the options menu by selecting the box that says minimize on the tray.
There are obviously tons of things that you can do with this program, which you will have to play around with to see just what fits you.
Performance for a backup program is important, but I would have to say that it is not the most important. Most likely you will be running backups in the middle of the night when you are not doing anything else and so you can afford a little extra time.
I ran some tests on one of my folders that had approximately 1.78 GB of data. The contents were a mixture of video, pictures, and documents. I left all the settings on default for the test and my source and destination were on different drives. The Backup time was about 14 minutes and the test took about 2 minutes. By default Backup4all wants to test each backup to make sure it is good. You can turn off the test in the advanced portion of the properties. The resulting zip file was about 1.42 GB in size. Obviously if I was going to burn this to a CD I would have set it to split at 700 MB. So how long does it actually take to make a backup fit for CDs? The backup took about the same amount of time, 13 minutes. Then it had to split the file into the parts I specified, 700 MB, which took an additional 14 minutes. Then once again it tested the backup and that took 3 minutes for a total of 30 minutes. It probably would have been quicker if they split the file as they went along rather then zipping it up to one big file then splitting it up.
Of course the speeds are all directly related to the speed of your system. As you can see from the following image, the CPU usage goes up and I could tell from the hard drive sounds that the hard drive was working hard. So, by increasing the speed of your processor and hard drives, you can feasibly speed up the backup process.
Support is obtained through the program itself by clicking the help menu and selecting Support Request. This attempts to open your default email program and start a new message with the email address and a small message typed in for you. Unfortunately, I was using Lotus Notes at the time and it opened the program but it did not start a new message. So I didn’t know what the email address was. I had to switch my default email program to Outlook so that it would work. When I asked support a question it took them about 24 hours to get back to me.
While this is probably not the best backup program that money can buy, it is a really good and full featured program at a reasonable price. I honestly could not think of a backup feature that I would want that this program did not provide. There could be enhancements like running as a service for scheduled backups and enhancing the speed of the backup so it didn’t take so long, but those are flexible. Despite those I still highly recommend this program for anyone who is looking for an inexpensive backup program. There are several versions of the software and they all cost a little different. For a measly $45 you can get the professional version which has all the features.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|