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How to backup

How to back up data on your computer
A selective data backup software review by an anonymous user

I never worried about data protection, but after a disastrous system crash I decided to learn how to make reserve copies of information stored on my PC. A short Internet search gave me a versatile choice of programs and left me wondering: what backup utility should I choose? Having visited TopTenReviews and having read numerous reviews of backup software, I’ve picked out several applications appropriate for my needs. My criteria were quite simple: firstly I wanted the application to work on my new notebook, so it should have supported Vista OS, and secondly I wanted it to be able to back up to a DVD disk, so I didn’t have to undertake any additional actions besides clicking certain buttons in its GUI. I didn’t actually require a huge feature set like creation of bootable backups or password encryption – all I wanted was something that would occasionally back up information (on a specified backup schedule or on my own request) and burn it to DVDs. All other features would be nice, but not essential.

To my big surprise only three backup utilities from the Top10 appeared to fit my needs: Genie Backup Manager, Turbo Backup and Handy Backup (at least if I can trust the table of features at TopTenReviews). The places they took in the rating were 1st, 7th and 8th respectively. I took a visit to their developers’ websites, downloaded trial versions and checked out, which of them seemed to provide the easiest way to back up data and which were worth buying. In case somebody else encounters the same situation, I thought that sharing my experience and describing everybody how to back up data would be quite helpful.

Genie Backup Manager

The first backup utility I tested was the #1 utility from the TopTenReviews rating, Genie Backup Manager. Unfortunately, due to numerous little but reasonable things it took the last place in my own backup software rating.
GBM can be downloaded from the Genie-Soft website, but before you start downloading it, know that the corresponding section on the website contains a mistake: the specified size is 1960kb (Home Edition without Disaster Recovery) while in fact it is ten times larger. I personally found that quite annoying. An installation ran smoothly, the application didn’t ask for any unusual choices or options. After the installation, the application required a reboot.
My first backup and restore with GBM went off without any troubles. But when I tried to give it a second task, it showed me an error saying “No data selected, please select at least one item to backup” - although I had a half of my hard drive selected. I failed to cope with this problem, so I had to close the application and run it once again.
On the second launch, despite the fact that I unchecked the respective box on the first launch, GBM showed the welcome screen once again. I found it very strange, unchecked the box and re-ran the program. And (as you could have guessed) the welcome screen appeared again, and for the third, and for the fourth time too. It stopped showing only after the reboot, and this was very irritating too.
Contrary to many reviews I read, in my tests GBM didn’t show the fastest results in making backup copies. Handy Backup and Turbo Backup appeared to be faster, especially when it came to uncompressed backups.
While operating, GBM occasionally made random pop-up suggestions, like “Try to back up to a remote FTP server for free”, “We advise you to not save to local disks and use external storage media”, etc. These pop-up windows were quite useful, but sometimes contained sentences exceeding their text fields, what made them cut and unreadable. Above that, in several places I met syntax liberties like using “grayed” instead of “unavailable” or “disabled”, which I think is not good.
Generally GBM seems to be a very powerful application. But in my opinion it contains too much minor inadvertences that could have been fixed before offering the product to the end user. This is why I give it the last place in my own ranking.

Turbo Backup

The download size of Turbo Backup is 2,4MB, it can be downloaded from the website of its manufacturer, FileStream Inc. I had no problems or errors during its installation, though the setup’s fonts and colors resembled Windows 3.11 and made me tense. :) I had a sigh of relief when it came to the main screen and I saw that it applied only to the setup screen. :) Unlike GBM, Turbo Backup didn’t require a reboot and was ready for an immediate work.
It took some time for me to find out how to select the type of backup: full, incremental or differential. Finally it was found in a window opened with an undistinguished “Options” button on the very last page of the task wizard (where you confirm the task). I think this could have been realized better, since this is one of the most important functions. When it came to backups and restores, they went off smoothly.
Several things in the interface could have been done better too, e.g. the naming of tasks: you have to spend time and think of a name each time you create a backup task. The manufacturers could have set a default “New Task” or something in that field to make it easier (because of this all my tasks carried names consisting of a random row of letters). Those things noted, it must be said that the utility is easy enough to use.
Turbo Backup wins the second place in my backup software ranking.

Handy Backup

Finally, the winner. Handy Backup by Novosoft LLC is available for download at numerous websites, created for different languages speakers: handybackup.fr, haendybackup.de, handybackup.ru, etc. I found this fact quite funny and cute. The download size is 6,2MB, the utility was very simple to install and setup.
The first impression of Handy Backup was more favorable than of others because it didn’t bother me with that “Evaluate / Buy” screen. GBM, for example, asked me to purchase it twice per launch: in the beginning and at the end (not counting pop-up windows). Handy Backup on the contrary reminded me of registration in the Title bar only, which I liked very much.
The utility started with a readme file. The list of available backup features was noticeably larger than the one at TopTenReviews, and one of the features caught my eyes at once: “Drag&Drop from Windows Explorer”. In practice, determining the list of files to back up always takes the biggest part of time: when you don’t want to back up the whole drive, checking all boxes near needed folders becomes a real pain in the ass. Each time I set backup tasks with GBM or Turbo Backup, I thought: how cool would it have been if I could just drag and drop files from Windows Explorer! Frankly speaking, the lack of this feature in such a huge utility like GBM made me wonder. And its presence in Handy Backup was one of big advantages for me.
All my backups ran perfectly and all data was restored as expected, without any troubles. Thus Handy Backup appeared to be a perfect utility for my new notebook: due to its flexible scheduler, backups to DVD, and an extremely easy and intuitive interface it met all my needs. Moreover, the application seemed to support the newest data storage formats such as HD DVD and Blu-Ray – if I only had those, my backups would be simply ideal
Overall I give Handy Backup the highest place in my rating.

Summary

I have tested three backup utilities: Genie Backup Manager by Genie-Soft, Turbo Backup by FileStream Inc. and Handy Backup by Novosoft LLC. The places they took in my own ranking were directly opposite to the TopTenReviews distribution: Handy Backup produced the best impression upon me, and Turbo Backup and GBM appeared to be a half of a step behind. Certainly, I don’t lay claim to an absolute objectivity, I’m just an average user with average needs. Genie Backup Manager and Turbo Backup seem to be very good and professional tools, but I searched for a certain set of features, and in my tests they didn’t impress me much.
Bye for now,
I’m glad if you found my review useful.


Review by Alex Rassokhin.

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