How often do you back up the data on your PC? If the answer is once a year or even every month, a system crash may still result in the loss of your most recently added photos, music, videos, documents, and email. The best way to avoid losing your data is the use of a backup application that, on a daily basis, creates a copy of your entire hard drive or recently updated files. Many backup applications also include a way for you to restore the files and your OS (operating system), should something go wrong. We’ll examine several popular data backup programs and cover the primary features of each application.
Drive Backup 9.0 Personal
Paragon Software I $39.95
Like many other backup tools, Paragon Software’s Drive Backup 9.0 Personal lets you create an image of your hard drive (with Windows OS files) onto disc, an external or network storage location, or secondary hard drive on your PC. You can use the hard drive image to restore your PC with all the applications, user preferences, settings, and files that were on your PC when the backup was created. But rather than requiring you to reinstall Windows and install Drive Backup 9.0 before restoring your PC, the application lets you use a bootable USB flash drive or CD and begin the restoration process by simply booting your PC via the backup media. In terms of usability, Drive Backup 9.0 Personal edition offers a task pane on the left-hand side that allows you to quickly select the task you want to perform. The application’s built-in scheduler allows you to configure Drive Backup 9.0 to automatically back up specific files and folders, clone the PC’s hard drive, or even restore the computer to a previous state. Version 9.0 includes a file-level protection feature that prevents the overwriting of old versions of emails, Outlook content, photos, music, videos, and Microsoft Office files. And, unlike some other backup programs, Drive Backup 9.0 Personal can copy currently open files and transfer incremental backups, so you’ll always archive the most current file version. Another handy feature of Drive Backup 9.0 is that it offers an image browser feature that lets you view individual, backed up files and folders and make selective choices about the files you want to restore.
True Image Home 2009
Acronis I $49.99
If you’ve ever avoided updating an application or device driver because you were afraid the new version may not work as well as your current software, you’ll appreciate the Try&Decide feature of Acronis True Image Home 2009. The backup application lets you put the PC into a test mode where installations and changes are not applied to the hard drive directly. Thus, you can try out any changes before implementation. Acronis True Image Home 2009 allows you to create disk images and specify files or folders to back up, and you can set up the software to automatically run at a preset time, at startup, or when you shut down your computer. It’s also possible to configure True Image Home 2009 to back up your PC as soon as you attach an external hard drive. To help you locate archived files, True Image Home 2009 lets you search for a file name using Windows Explorer or the Google Desktop search tool. PC users familiar with Vista will enjoy that True Image Home 2009 offers a similar interface with icons and links for each of the program features. Because regular backups to an external or network hard drive can quickly fill up your storage devices, True Image Home 2009 lets you consolidate an older, complete archive with your incremental backups and save storage space. As an added bonus, True Image Home 2009 also includes a migration tool, so you can clone your PC onto another hard drive or new PC.
PC Backup Pro 8.0
Migo Software I $59.99
Computer viruses and spyware have a nasty way of sticking to the files on your computer, and when you’re backing up your data, you’ll want to ensure that you don’t archive infected files. PC Backup Pro 8.0 from Migo Software includes a virus scanning tool that helps remove viruses from the files you choose to back up. Additionally, PC Backup Pro 8.0 includes a compression tool that lets you reduce the amount of storage space your backups will consume. You can also choose to encrypt the backed-up data, which is ideal if you need to archive sensitive financial and work files. PC Backup Pro 8.0 lets you schedule full, partial, or incremental backups, and you can use the application’s File Verification feature to ensure that your files weren’t corrupted during the backup process. PC Backup Pro can also archive incremental- and differentialbased files, and by keeping the older file versions, you can restore a document, spreadsheet, or photo to a previous state. PC Backup Pro includes wizardbased guides for each type of backup, and we’re glad that the application provides file selection filters to help you select the files you’d like to restore.
Genie Backup Manager Home 8.0
Genie-Soft I $49.95
Genie Backup Manager Home 8.0 is a complete backup and restore application that includes a number of advanced features not commonly found in other backup programs. For instance, Genie-Soft’s Web site offers free plugins that allow Backup Manager Home
8.0 to back up the files and settings associated with your applications. With your personal application settings backed up, you can uninstall and reinstall a program that’s experiencing problems without needing to manually reconfigure all your application settings. Additionally, Backup Manager Home 8.0 includes a Disaster Recovery feature that backs up your Windows OS, including the system files, programs, documents, and system settings. You can use the Disaster Recovery tool to fix Windows if the OS becomes unstable or inoperable. When it comes to choosing where to back up your data, Backup Manager Home 8.0 lets you use nearly every option available. You can use external or internal hard drives, a network storage location, USB flash drive, disc (CD/DVD/Blu-ray), remote locations via FTP (File Transfer Protocol), or use Genie-Soft’s online service. (Note that Genie-Soft’s Online Backup service is a separate, fee-based service.) When you first run Genie Backup Manager Home 8.0, it will back up all the files and folders you select, and after the initial backup, you can choose to copy the same set of files or only new or changed files. If you need to save space, you can opt to delete old backups and automatically purge data after a given number of days. Besides a full feature set, Genie Backup Manager Home 8.0 offers a simple interface and wizard-based guides and help tools, so you can create and restore your data backups with ease.
Backup Now 5 Advanced Edition
NTI I $69.99
Although most backup applications are fairly easy to use, NTI’s Backup Now 5 is one of the most intuitively designed backup applications we’ve seen. For instance, Backup Now 5 provides you a set of numbered steps on the left-hand side of the window, and if you need to make a change, you can jump back to any step in the process. We also like that Backup Now 5 includes brief, helpful hints about the choices available and the important aspects to consider before you reach the next step. NTI Backup Now 5 lets you archive complete images of your hard drive, as well as create file-based backups. You have complete control over the compression level, type of encryption used, and file verification settings. We like that you can tailor the process to suit your personal needs and time requirements. Another good example of the program’s flexible design is the application’s ability to shut down, enter hibernation, or initiate standby mode after the completion of a backup. The automatic power-down feature is ideal for those who prefer to run the backup process when they’re not using the PC to avoid any system slowdowns.
We like that NTI Backup Now 5 can be run on more than one PC, rather than some backup applications that limit the software’s use to one system. You can also use NTI Backup Now 5 to clone your personal files from one PC to another.
Memeo I $69.95
When performing file-based backups, most backup applications include a file selection tool to help you locate essential, personal files on your PC. However, if you don’t store critical files in common folder locations, such as the Documents folder in Vista or the My Documents folder in WinXP, the backup application may not automatically archive the file. Memeo AutoBackup Premium includes a SmartTags feature that runs as a Windows Explorer plug-in and lets you add files to the program’s backup set that you may not have initially included. Memeo AutoBackup Premium can also reference the backup tag title to let you select just a group of Smart-Tags files. Although AutoBackup can’t create an image of your PC’s hard drive, the application does an excellent, speedy job of archiving your data files. We also like that AutoBackup remembers the hard drive location of the files, so you can restore a deleted file to its original folder. Memeo AutoBackup
Premium is also one of the few backup tools that lets you back up data to multiple locations at the same time. For instance, you could simultaneously transfer files to an external hard drive and a network file server.
Choose A Backup Plan
All of the applications we examined in this article offer free trials, so it’s a good idea to test the different applications before you purchase. When you try the software, consider whether the program provides all the functions you need, such as the ability to make incremental archives or create an image of your hard drive that lets you restore your PC to a previous state.
Source of Information : Smart Computing / January 2009
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