Backing up files on a computer is extremely important, especially when you have irreplaceable files like family photos, or school projects. It is easy to find software that will backup files, but software backup programs are only good if you store the files somewhere else. A hardware backup is much better because it can keep the backed up files separate. Back in a Flash is a small USB drive with backup software built-in to it.
- Backup files in one step
- Boot directly from device if computer crashes
- Compatible with Windows Vista, XP and 2000
- Available in four storage sizes, from 3.5 GB to 31.5 GB
The ability to backup files is very important to anyone that has important documents. Making the process really easy is also important. With Back in a Flash you only have to click one button to start a backup.
With a built-in operating system you can boot directly to the Back in a Flash device if your hard drive ever fails.
Back in a flash comes is several sizes, including 3.5GB, 7.5GB, 15.5GB, and 31.5GB
There is not much to say about the outside design of the Back in a flash. It looks just like a standard USB memory stick. However, it is what’s inside that matters. The one I got is a pre-production model so the final versions may not look like this.
Inside this drive is a Windows based backup program, and an operating system. Your probably asking what the Operating system is for. Well, a backup is only good if you can get to the files when you need them. If your computer hard drive has failed and you need to get to your files, you can boot directly off the USB drive and use the built-in operating system to get to your files. The operating system is a fully functional Linux distribution with OpenOffice so you can open your backed up files.
The backup software works really well, as long as you have enough space. After inserting the Back in a Flash device I ran a full backup. I did not want to wait for the backup to complete because it could take a long time, so I left it alone and went and did other things. When I got back a couple hours later the backup had completed and closed automatically; however, when I looked on the drive for the backup I could not find it. I checked the log to make sure it did not have any errors, and according to the log it completed and saved successfully; however, when I looked for the backup it was not there.
When I tried to start another backup the screen that came up had an error on it, this was my first indication that there was a problem. The error only listed a number and I had no way of knowing what that number meant so it was not helpful. I tried to close the screen by clicking the X, but nothing happened. I actually had to click the start button to start a new backup, and then I could click the X to close it.
Finally, after searching around for what might have caused the problem I found out that I had too many files for it to backup. It is really bad that the software didn’t tell me this up front. At first I tried to find a way to tell the software to exclude some files, but that ability does not exist. So I had to delete a few files and try again. For a normal user, deleting files would not be an option, because I am using test files and a test machine I didn’t mind. After deleting some files the backup finally finished and saved. After completing a backup I was able to use the software to view the backup and the files inside.
The software that is used to interact with the backups is not exactly feature rich. When you choose to view backups you are presented with a simple window that lists all the backup zip files. The intention is that you would click on one of the zip files and then find the file that you want to restore; however, this may not be very quick or easy because you have to keep clicking on directories until you get to your file. If you happen to click on the wrong zip file then you have to start completely over. If you have been running backups every night for a month, you will have 30 zip files to go through. Also, when you click on the zip file to open it, the initial load takes a long time — mine took about 30 seconds. I would recommend to the Back in a Flash people that they take a look at a review I did a couple of years ago. The backup software that I reviewed had a much better interface and it was a lot easier to navigate and find files that you were looking for. It was called Backup4all and I included lots of pictures of the interface when I did the review.
Compression on the backups is almost non existent. My 3.91GB of photo’s, MP3’s and Text files turned up as a 3.90GB Zip file when the backup was done.
The other problem I see with the Back in a Flash is that it can only be used on a single computer and will get filled up quickly if you add or change a lot of files frequently. How many people only have one computer? I have 5 computers and it would not be very economical to buy a separate backup device for each computer, especially since each computer has several gigs of data that would need to be backed up. That is why I use a Windows Home server to manage all my computers and the nightly backups. However, if I am on vacation or on a business trip I would not be able to use my Home Server and that is when a device like the Back in a Flash would be useful.
Keep in mind that the Back in a Flash comes in three sizes, so pick a size that will give you a lot of growing room. It will be cheaper to get one that is bigger than you need, than to buy a second one.
If your hard drive fails you can boot directly to the Back in a Flash with the built-in Operating System. Using the built-in operating system is very easy. It is a version of Linux that uses an interface that is very similar to Windows. It also has a full copy of OpenOffice installed so you can access all your documents. This is a really great and unique feature in case your hard drive fails, and I have not seen any other backup devices offer the same capability.
Warranty and Support
The Back in a Flash devices come with a two year warranty. However, because there are no moving parts, this should last a really long time. I know that USB drives like this can only be written to a certain number of times, so eventually the memory will fail, but if taken care of it should last a long time.
Support comes in several different ways. First is through an online manual, second is an online FAQ, and third is an email address. I could not find a phone number or any kind of forum to get support. I would encourage Back in a Flash to quickly implement both of those additional support methods.
Back in a Flash has a lot of potential, but as it currently stands it needs a lot of work. The company really needs to work on the interface and make it easier to navigate, make the error messages more meaningful, and do a little more to notify the user when they have too many files or when the Back in a Flash is full. Back in a Flash would work for someone always on the road, no other way to backup their files. Also, if you have more than 31.5 GB of files to backup, you are out of luck. I would suggest that Back in a Flash load its software on a portable USB hard drive so that it can provide the same functionality, but offer a lot more storage. If all else fails you can buy some stand alone backup software like I mentioned above, and just have it save to an external hard drive. As always compare prices before purchasing.
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