Data Backup 2.0.6, by Prosoft Engineering
Posted: 29-Nov-2005

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice

Vendor: Prosoft Engineering Type: COMMERCIAL

Reviewer: Scott Bender Class: UTILITY

Overview
Murphy's Law says, "Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong." To a computer user, the biggest thing that could go wrong is a hard drive crash. Of course, the one thing that can make a bad hard drive worse would be the loss of the data on your drive because you hadn't backed it up.

As another example, let's suppose your presentation is stored on the external hard drive you're carrying across the country, and the baggage-handler does what he does best to ensure that your drive doesn't make it when you do. You can always pick up a new hard drive at your Office Biz Depot. But what about your data?

Backing up data can be a painful and laborious task. Data Backup from Prosoft Engineering takes a lot of the guesswork out of, well, data backups. Data Backup is an easy to use application that takes a lot of the pain out of backing up. What's more, Data Backup can compress or encrypt data, but defaults to creating a carbon copy of the original data. There are no worries of lost data integrity from special software. The copy is 100% identical to the original. You can even create a bootable clone of your boot volume.

Requirements
Any Macintosh capable of running Mac OS X 10.2, 10.3 and 10.4.

Pricing
Single User License costs $59.
Multi-user discounts are available.

Installation and Initial Setup
I downloaded and installed Data Backup 2.0.6 from the
Prosoft Engineering website. My Mac is a dual 2.3 Ghz G5 with a 250 Gigabyte hard drive (I have roughly 80 Gig used), running OS X 10.4. For my networking tests, I connected up via Airport Extreme to my 533 Mhz G4. Data Backup is optimized for OS X 10.2, 10.3 and 10.4.

Installing Data Backup was a simple double-click on the "Data Backup.pkg" icon (the only icon on the install disk). The installer places the application in your applications folder. It contains the user's manual in .pdf format, a ReadMe file, the Data Backup application, and an uninstaller.

On the first run, Data Backup sets up a default destination by looking for an external firewire or USB drive. If there is no external drive (and in my case there wasn't), Data Backup lets you select a destination location for the backup. This is accomplished by selecting "Set Default Destination" from the File menu. The popup window that opens does not let you create a folder however. Creating a folder is easily done though, via the Backup Options pane. Any mountable volume (hard drive, CD, DVD, network drive, or even a thumbdrive) may be used as a destination.

In Use
Once the setup is complete, the main interface window (the only interface window) for Data Backup opens.


Data Backup - Quick Backup window

This "Quick Backup" window gives you control of two parts of the task: the type of backup, and the schedule for the backup. Also from this window are the "Start Now" and "Schedule" buttons.

A pulldown menu (under "Quick Backup") gives you the following choices for your backups:

  • An entire hard drive
  • All non-system files
  • All user files
  • All files for a specific user
  • All document files for a specific user
  • Or Custom

The pulldown will also include any subsequent custom backups that have been performed.

Schedule
The Schedule is very straight forward. Once you click on Schedule, and Events window is displayed where you can schedule various backups.


Data Backup - Scheduling Events

The various tabs in the Events window give you control over selected dates, the interval between backups (hourly, weekly, etc.), upon selected events (system startup and/or the appearance of the destination volume), or on any day of the week. Any of the above may be combined to perform as many, or as few, backups as wished.

The real power behind the schedule options, however, is found when you select the "Show Backup Options" triangle on the main window. After clicking the triangle, the main window expanded to give me control options over my data Sources, data to Ignore, my Destination, the Backup Method, and the Destination Options (see figure below). The combination of the Scheduling capabilities and the versatility of the Backup Options gives tremendous control to the user over what is backed up, where it's backed up to, and how it's backed up.


Data Backup - Backup Options

If you're familiar with using the Finder, you can set your Options, Ignore features and Destination fairly easily. I played with many options, including backing up folders on networked Macs; incremental backups of my local Documents folder; scheduling backups across my network when I wasn't home, and running a daily backup of my email. When backing up an entire hard drive, make sure you have a LOT of extra space and a proportional amount of time - it took over 2 hours to back up my hard drive. While the display told me 18,325 of 28,264 bytes had been copied, a more user-friendly "estimated time to complete" would have been more helpful.


Data Backup - Backup In Progress

If you're like me, once you've run your backup, you'll want to copy the contents onto another medium, such as CD or DVD. For copying to CDs or DVDs, Data Backup does not support "spanning". Spanning is the term used for partitioning a large amount of data for recording onto small media that is not large enough to handle all of the data. For example, a 4.7 gigabyte DVD will not hold 10 gigabytes of data. Therefore, the data would have to be partitioned in some way so that it would copy onto several disks. This partitioning can be done manually (drag and dropping folders to create smaller folders), or by using another piece of software (e.g., Toast) to handle the partitioning of the data. Data Backup does not provide automatic handling of spanning. If you do try to use Data Backup to backup 10 gigabytes of data onto a DVD, Data Backup will give you an error. According to Prosoft's customer support, who were extremely helpful and quick to reply, Data Backup is designed to be a network backup application - entire volumes can be backed up to another drive, and then off-loaded to a different medium. I used Toast to create my spanned DVD backups.

Another feature Data Backup supports, within the Backup Options window, is the ability to select multiple volumes from which to extract your data in a single backup operation. For instance, one of my Macs has a partitioned drive. Under the "Sources" header in the Backup Options window, I can click the "+" button, and select multiple source volumes and sub-folders (and files) to backup. Additionally, I can use the "Ignore" feature to ignore any folders or files that I don't want backed up. As an example of both features, I can choose to back up the Applications folder from two different drives, but ignore any files or folders that contain the word "Epson". This is a neat feature, and works well, and it's pretty easy to do.

Because Data Backup's options menus operate like any other Mac finder menu, I found the program extremely easy to pick up and master. The few alert popups I encountered (I tried to back a volume up into a folder that was on the volume) were straightforward, and explained the problems very well. Reliability of the backups is perfect. This is because Data Backup creates exact duplicates of the data - not a compressed version of the files.  Data Backup comes with a 37-page easy-to-read PDF user's manual. It explains step-by-step setup instructions, and includes useful warnings and notes. Had I actually read through the FAQ section at the end of the manual first, I would not have had to email Prosoft's Tech Support regarding the spanning issue. Their support responded within one business day.  

Summary
Data Backup is an extremely easy to use, yet powerful utility for creating a carbon-copy backup of user data. I easily performed simple backups, and with only a few minor mis-steps (due to not reading the manual), I was able to create and schedule complex customized backups as well. Data Backup performs exactly as advertised. The user interface is easy to understand, and even at its most complex, was not intimidating. I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to backup important data, and Prosoft's Data Backup is a reliable utility for performing the task. Data Backup is also extremely easy to use, making it simple to incorporate Data Backup into my daily Mac maintenance. I highly recommend Data Backup to any Mac user.

Pros

  • Easy to Use
  • Easy Restoration of Data
  • Versatility in Setting up Backup Details
  • Quick, Friendly Customer Support


Cons

  • Does not Support Spanning
  • No "Estimated time to complete" bar during the backup


Overall Rating

4 1/2 out of 5 Mice