the latest online and broadcast harangues by Leo Laporte
(The Screen Savers, Call for Help, Leo Laporte Show on
LA's KFI radio) and Kickstartnews Managing Editor Howard
Carson (and me) and every other guru out there about doing
regular data backups of your hard drive is beginning to
sound irritating, it's only because we've all fielded a
lot plaintive phone calls and e-mail from unlucky people
who've lost a mess of files and don't know what to do.
The solution to any problem of that kind begins before
the problem happens of course. You've got to do regular
backups. The wonderful, inexpensive hard drives which are
absolutely fundamental to a stable and secure computing
environment can and will fail at the most inopportune moments.
Often, data which was not backed up prior to the drive
failure is lost forever. On the other hand, individual
files are sometimes accidentally deleted and can be restored
by quick action with one of the many reliable Undelete
utilities. If you don't have an undelete utility handy
however, a recent backup will do the trick.
is an award-winning backup program for Windows (Ed. Note:
Okay—it's true—almost every publication and
download site offers plaudits, and there are dozens of
them, but an award is still an award). Backup4all is
designed to protect data from partial or total loss by
automating backup tasks, password protecting backups
and compressing backups in order to save storage space.
The program is available in four editions: Professional,
Classic, Mirror and OTB (which stands for Outside The
Box and is available strictly to OEMs). Professional
offers full functionality. The other versions offer various
Backup4all on a low-rent 1.7GHz Pentium 4 Celeron PC
(the socket 478 version). The computer is normally used
to perform network maintenance tasks, general network
backups and a few productivity tasks. The program installed
without incident. I used Backup4all almost daily over
a period of five weeks to perform full, differential,
and incremental backup chores. During the usage and testing
period I experienced no problems of any kind with Backup4all.
Crashes, lockups and inconsistent operation were non-existent.
I also found the interface to be responsive, well laid
out and logically ordered, something which is particularly
important in a program designed to help you tackle the
unavoidable drudgery of backing up crucial data with
first thing you'll notice about the actual backup files
that they're all in ZIP format. Some of the features
typically available for ZIP files are also available
including password protection and encryption, especially
important if your backups are going to be handled by
someone other than yourself. ZIP format means your backups
are also portable because you don't need Backup4all to
retrieve individual files or entire drives full of data.
second thing you may notice is that Backup4all doesn't
need a separate CD or DVD burning program to do its work.
The program has its own CD/DVD burning routines which
worked flawlessly for me with a wide variety of media
in two different drives. I used a Yamaha CRW-F1 CD/RW
and a LiteOn 1622S DVD+/-RW. Backup4all supports Universal
Disk Format (UDF) as well, which allows you to manipulate
files directly on CD/RW and DVD/RW media, which helps
when you're doing a restore of individual files or folders
(as opposed to a full restore).
the built-in scheduler to set up a series of backups.
Configuring the backups was extremely easy, with lots
of flexible options for convenient timing, formatting
and storage. The program interface is intuitive and functions
very efficiently, meaning that there are very few intermediate
steps to take once you've decided what sort of backup
you want to do. Dantz, maker of the venerable and extremely
powerful Retrospect Backup, despite its preeminence in
the backup market could take some really important lessons
in user interface design from Softland.
your backup is complete you can access a tree view of
everything to see how many files are backed up, the total
space allocated for the current backup on the target
drive or disc, how many files will be added at the next
execution, the available free space on the target drive
or disc and about a half dozen other details. Backup4all
does a reasonably good job of tracking individual file
versions as well, which means you can selectively restore
the state of any file. It's a feature unique to Backup4all.
I found it particularly useful when searching through
backups to find a particular version of a sequentially
edited audio file.
the Restore dialog, it initially looks as though there's
no way to Select All or Deselect All, but the keyboard
space bar along with your arrow keys can be used. Read
the online help system. The Wizard icon is just a square
button and you'll never guess what it's for until you hover
the mouse over it so that the pop-up can tell you what
it is. The otherwise excellent user interface could be
even better after a bit of tweaking in this area. Not the
best choice for full system backups and it does not create
boot or rescue CDs—it's best for data backups and
Documents & Settings backups.
program is very easy to use and doesn't get in the way
of the task at hand which is to back up the drives, folders
or even individual files you designate. Automating backups
is a simple matter using the straightforward and versatile
tools provided. I really liked the unobtrusive operation
of this utility. Lots of really nice little features too,
for example the Clear Backup option which is customizable
and lets you quickly set the number of days a backup version
will be kept before being automatically cleared. This feature
is especially useful in situations where backed up data
in files becomes stale, as in monthly financial reports
for instance. Restoring full backups is simple. Restoring
individual folders and files from within a large backup
is also simple using the Explorer-like file and folder
tree. Backup4all does not demand your undivided attention,
it works fast, and it saves backups on hard drives, CD-R/RW
and DVD-/+R/RW. Once you've installed Backup4all, you will
no longer have any excuse for not doing regular backups.