Filing it away – Evaluating file backup software
Quick links for file backup software review:-
Overview of the contenders
Test 1 – Windows 7 1GB data
Test 2 – Windows 7 1GB data restored
Test 3 – Windows XP 7.56GB data
Test 4 – Windows XP 7.56GB data restored
Features at a glance
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File level backup programs are designed to work with the data you store on your hard drive, rather than your hard drive as a whole. In our Introduction to Backup article we briefly discuss the different types of information on a computers hard drive, namely programs and data. Your data is what matters most and that is one of the reasons why file level backup programs remain popular.
Note – some of the terms we use in this article are a little technical. If you are struggling to understand some of the technical jargon surrounding this article, see our understanding backup and storage page.
As with most Windows software, users are typically spoilt for choice when it comes to deciding on a file backup software package to choose. There are free and commercial alternatives all with their own strengths and weaknesses. To make the decision even harder, two vendors have started offering a new style of backup software. This new approach to backup is called ‘time capsule’ or ‘time machine’ and was invented by Apple and is included as a system backup program on Apple Macintosh machines. Time capsule backup software makes backups of files and folders at regular intervals and allows the user to easily browse through previous versions of their files. This is very handy if you accidentally delete a file or make changes you later wish you could reverse. Time capsule backup software is also very easy to set up.
We will start the review and bench test with an overview of the contenders. We have three traditional file backup packages and two of the new ‘time capsule’ style packages. The traditional backup packages are:-
Acronis True Image Home 2010
Acronis True Image 2010 was the victor in our recent round up of full disk backup software. The package includes a full set of file-level backup features too and that is what we will be testing in this review.
True Image 2010 has a clean, easy to use interface and includes a easy to use scheduler. As well as the disk imaging/cloning features we discuss in our disk backup software review, you also get a file shredder and system clean up utility, as well as the ability to open data backed up using the Windows backup utility.
Cobian Backup 9
Cobian Backup is a free (though no longer open source) backup program that works with Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7. Free alternatives are always popular amongst our readers. Cobian Backup’s interface is not as straightforward as some of the other packages we reviewed in this roundup, but it can easily be mastered with a little practise.
Can a free backup program perform on par with its commercial alternatives? Keep reading to find out.
Genie Backup Manager Professional 8
Genie Backup Manager is the heavyweight file backup software package we use for backing up our systems here at Top-Windows-Tutorials.com. Packed with features and supporting a wide range of media, Genie Backup is certainly a strong contender.
This review also includes two ‘time capsule’ style backup packages. This style of backup software differs from more traditional backup packages in several ways. Firstly, rather than setting a daily or weekly schedule and backing up your files, typically this kind of software will make a backup every time it detects a change in your files. Usually the software will check at least every hour and can be configured to check even more frequently than that. Secondly, these programs make it easy to browse through backup sets and find older versions of your files, just like going back in time. The two time capsule backup packages we are testing in this review are:-
Backup experts Genie have recently released Genie Timeline. Timeline aims to be an easy to use backup package for home users that has ‘time capsule’ style features. Since this article was published, Genie have released 2 new versions of their Timeline software, so this comarison is now obsolete. We recently reviewed Genie Timeline 2012, you can read our review by clicking here.
A new contender from a new startup company Altaro, Oops Backup is turning heads on the internet with its polished, easy to use interface and powerful time capsule style backup facilities. Can this new kid on the block upstage the older, established contenders? We’ll find out later on in the article.
Now that all the contenders have been introduced, we will move on and start making some backups.
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