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Which of the following backup software would you recommend?

CDRome asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-03

I have recently had a major system crash and had to reinstall everything, losing a lot of settings, etc, in the process. My machines are highly customized as far as settings, etc. So now I've finally decided to do VERY REGULAR backups EVERY DAY.

I have two machines, both running WinXP PRo: a desktop (30GB) and a notebook (20GB), and an 80GB LaCie USB 2.0 external drive. (Incidentally, the Document folders on both desktop and notebook are constantly synched so that they always contain the same data).

Notebook (IBM ThinkPad) already has Xpoint's Rapid Restore PC, which I'm going to upgrade to its PRO version so that I can backup to the USB drive (which I'll partititon so that it can hold the backups from both machines), freeing up much needed space on the notebook.

As to Desktop, I'm having a hard time deciding between: 1. Ghost, 2. Drive Image, and 3. Handy Backup.

What I need is a completely foolproof backup that would recover me from the worst possible disaster as swiftly as it can be.

I'm not very clear about the practical difference between imaging (as in Ghost and Drive Image) and backing up.

So my questions are:

1. Would I in either case (imaging and backup) be able to recover the system partition *and* my data and settings without hassle?

2. Which would you suggest as the most failproof option? And which program would you pick (or any other programs you feel would do a better job)?

3. What backup strategy would you choose: incremental or differential? Why?


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Well here is review list that was done about 7 months ago

* denotes PC magazines pick as the best in its class

      Drive Imaging
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
At some point, you may need to preserve your entire hard drive exactly as it is—byte for byte. Drive-imaging software does exactly that: It saves a snapshot of every bit of information on a drive or partition so you can restore the system to an identical state. But beware: The product you choose may not work well with your CD-RW drive. We ran into some compatibility problems during testing. Fortunately, each of the programs in this roundup has a money-back guarantee. So be sure to give the software a test run as soon as you buy it.

Drive Image
PowerQuest has clearly put a lot of effort into making Drive Image 2002 easy to use. When you launch the program, a straightforward wizard walks you through the process of either creating a backup of your hard drive or restoring it, detailing each step of the process.

Norton Ghost
The most impressive aspects of Norton Ghost 2003 are its advanced features and versatile functions in a business setting, where you might need to set up hundreds of systems using the same hard drive image.

*Acronis TrueImage
Acronis TrueImage 6.0 has an interface that makes it an ideal solution for users with basic drive-imaging needs and a desire for simplicity. The wizard for backing up a hard drive is extremely intuitive; it lets you back up partitions of a hard drive to another partition on the same drive or to optical media. Unlike Drive Image and Ghost, TrueImage does not require exclusive access to the file system to make a copy of all files. And whereas other programs require you to reboot into DOS mode to complete most operations, TrueImage needs to leave Windows only to restore a hard drive.

not reviewed by PC Magazine

Casper XP
is the next generation of Drive2Drive, designed exclusively for Windows XP and Windows 2000 systems.

Drive2Drive (Win 95, 98, ME)
makes upgrading to a new hard disk faster and easier than ever.

      Traditional Backup
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
The programs in this section can back up data, files, and even your entire system—applications and all—to CD-Rs or other types of media. Backups can be performed on demand or scheduled to occur at any convenient time. Between full backups, you can copy additional files using differential or incremental backups. This is the most comprehensive tactic, but because it requires the most discipline, you should also consider the approaches in the other sections.

BackUp MyPC
Stomp's BackUp MyPC 4.85 ($69, or $79 on CD)—formerly Veritas Backup Exec Desktop—is a full-featured solution with multiple methods for backing up and restoring files. The fastest and easiest method is the One-Button Backup, which handles all your hard drives and critical system files such as the Registry. For a more hands-on approach, use BackUp MyPC's detailed wizards.

NTI Backup NOW! Deluxe  
NTI Backup NOW! Deluxe 3.0 is easy to use and powerful. To back up or restore your data, you follow a simple wizard. The program's scheduling options are the most thorough in the group, even letting you choose specific days of the week or month for backups.

*Retrospect Professional
Retrospect Professional is the most expensive product in this group. But for the extra money, you get advanced options such as disk cloning, scripting, and open file backup, plus the best interface and scheduling tools here. Although this wealth of options makes Retrospect the best choice for advanced users, novices are likely to find it overwhelming.

At first glance, WinBackup appears to be well designed, with useful options and a simple interface. Unfortunately, the program was too slow when backing up, writing to our CD-RW drive at a much slower rate than the drive supports.

      Online Backup Services
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
When you think of backing up data, CD-RWs and tape drives probably come to mind. But online backup services have become a reliable alternative. In choosing a service, you do have to consider such criteria as speeds and scheduling capabilities, since you'll be transferring large amounts of data over your Internet connection.

Although the interface looks a bit primitive, @Backup is very easy to use. You simply right-click on a folder or a file—say, a Word document on your desktop—and add it to your backup schedule.

If you're thirsting for a feature-rich backup service, try IBackup. This service is set apart by an extensive set of tools and wizards, which guide novices easily through backing up data, restoring files, and scheduling backups.

*Connected TLM
Like @Backup, Connected TLM was one of the first online backup services. And the experience shows. Our initial backup took only 1 minute 40 seconds, and the restore time was a blazing 56 seconds. Connected also has excellent scheduling options.

OnlineBackupCenter is loaded with features; it offers scheduling, filters, wizards, and three types of encryption. But we were disappointed by its speeds. Backing up and restoring files took over an hour, compared with about a minute using @Backup or Connected.

      Real-Time Backup
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
Most backup tools work on a schedule or on demand. What if something happens to the files you are currently working on? Imagine you've spent hours editing an important document and suddenly there's a power outage. That won't be a problem if you're using a real-time backup solution. Such products back up your files as they are being modified—and take very little in the way of system resources to run seamlessly in the background.

*Iomega Automatic Backup
Iomega Automatic Backup is well designed, simple and flexible. The most reliable approach is to set it so that it manages backups without any user input, backing up files as you edit them. Data can be saved to another system, a network drive, or even a folder on the same computer. (Backing up to the same system is not the best idea, since you'll lose your data and the backups if the computer or hard drive fails.)

Although AutoSave doesn't have quite as polished an interface, the program is still quite easy to use. By default, it automatically backs up files every time they are modified. A host of options let you exclude specific file extensions, enable backing up files that are currently opened, and perform extensive validity checks on the consistency of the backup database, among other things.

      Other Backup Tools
Reviews By PC Magazine June 17, 2003
The needs of computer users vary greatly, even when it comes to backup. Fortunately, companies that create backup solutions offer a variety of approaches, from letting you back up to a remote online server to backing up your data in real time. Here are a few backup tools that don't fit into the standard

Argentum Backup
Argentum Backup is a good choice if you're looking for a very basic, hassle-free way to back up while using only a minimum of system resources. This very tiny utility saves backups in ZIP format to minimize file size. Argentum Backup includes templates that help you back up your e-mail messages and contacts database. The program also backs up important system information, such as the Registry and shell settings. To back up data, you define data sets and schedule each set to be backed up on a monthly, weekly, or daily basis. You can also opt to back up these sets manually. Unlike the traditional backup programs, Argentum Backup can't back up directly to CD and DVD burners.

Second Copy
Second Copy can back up your data to any local or network hard drive for safekeeping, but like Argentum Backup, it doesn't natively back up to removable storage media. The interface is somewhat primitive, although the wizard simplifies the process of backing up information. The wizard helps you create a profile for each backup session so that when you need to view or revert back to old files, you can quickly find and access the appropriate data by clicking on the profiles.

ABSplus 5.0 bundles a portable 20GB or larger hard drive and a backup utility. ABS doesn't use any compression technology, so you get a 1:1 ratio. The software supports a host of features, such as scheduling, file filters, and validity checks. You can obtain other features, including synchronizing and versioning, by upgrading to ABS Pro for an additional cost.
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>>>What I need is a completely foolproof backup

No such animal exists I am afraid. All backup schemes have there own inherent risks and potential problems.

Something else you might consider

ASR: Automated System Recovery Wizard.
Traditionally a backup will copy selected data to a different location, may or may not condense the individual files into a single conglomerate file, .TAR ball, .ZIP or the like. Traditionally most backup programs for consumers would require you to reinstall the OS onto your machine before running the restore operation.

Drive Imaging will create a single file, (Nowadays, usually spanned at either 700 MB, (CD Size) or 2GB (Max single file size on an ISO 9660 DVD-Rom) copy all data from the hard drive, usually compress it, (Most will omit the windows Swap file however) and theoretically, your hard drive will have everything in exactly the same places as it did when you created the image, after you restore the image.

I have used Norton Ghost to cover my @$$ when Win98 took a dump and wouldn't run right.

I would pop a Ghost floppy into the a: drive, boot to it, and restore the image file from another partition on the computer.

As a backup it is only slightly better than useless, because it fire/theft/act of God should leave me without the computer, I have nothing.

To protect your data you really need off-site storage.

the only other thing I can think of is that to restore a system disk, you must boot to an something besides the partition to be restored. Therefore, you will need to be able to access your chosen restore media in a DOS environment.


Folks, that's tons of very good information. I'll go through all of it carefully and assign the points accordingly. Meanwhile, if anyone wants to add something, you're most welcome to do so.

Also, I'm still not quite sure if I should opt for incremental or differential backups...

This following is quoted from the help file of the Backup utility (ntbackup) that comes with XP.

Differential backup

A differential backup copies files created or changed since the last normal or incremental backup. It does not mark files as having been backed up (in other words, the archive attribute is not cleared). If you are performing a combination of normal and differential backups, restoring files and folders requires that you have the last normal as well as the last differential backup.

Incremental backup

An incremental backup backs up only those files created or changed since the last normal or incremental backup. It marks files as having been backed up (in other words, the archive attribute is cleared). If you use a combination of normal and incremental backups, you will need to have the last normal backup set as well as all incremental backup sets in order to restore your data.

Although I do have Ghost I don't think it or Drive Image do Differential or Incremental backups. I believe they are all or nothing. In other words it images or clones the entire partition and doesn't allow one to select specific folders or files to backup. Acronis does allow for Incremental backups but I don't think it allows one to choose specific files or folders, the Incremental backups append to existing backups. Acronis also can be scheduled.  

I don't know but the more I read about Retrospect Professional the more it impresses me. It seems to be the most versatile and manageable. It also has a higher price tag on it as well.

Some more info about this product at the following link. Also there is a pdf file that you can check out that has more information in it then you will see at the site itself.


CrazyOne and Timotheus1,

Thanks for the good advice. I went through all these programs and found that although retrospect is very good, it's a bit too expensive (especially if you order it in Europe, where I live, and where everything is unexplicably so much more expensive than in the States). But the real turn off was that I couldn't order and download the software but had to wait for it to be physically delivered, and therefore be at the mercy of European mail and customs.

So I ordered and downloaded Acronis's True Image and Partition Expert. They're both very good and very easy to figure out (I tried the trial versions first).

I will also get Iomega's Auto Backup. It's the best solution for keeping my documents folder always backed up automatically WHILE I work.

Thanks again for the info.

You are welcome


Just a post resolution note:

Acronis True Image and Partition Expert 2003 are absolutely easy-to-use products and have a very cool interface.

Moreover, True Image does incremental backups and it is possible to retrieve files and folders individually from a virtual drive.

Yeah for a relatively new comer in this market in my opinion it out shines the old and reliable Ghost and Drive Image. :)
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