The software can operate in two modes: Make a backup, and synchronize folders. When you use it in regular (backup) mode, it copies all the folders and files you select to the backup. When you use it in synchronize mode, it synchronizes the contents of all the selected folders and files with copies on another hard drive or another computer. Synchronize mode is especially useful if you work on several computers and need to move things between computers so you can work on them wherever you happen to be.
The software comes with our Backup Plan Wizard to help you determine which folders and files you need to back up, and tell the software what to do with them. The Wizard will also build a set of standard backup plans for you to start with if you wish.
Our DVD/CD Writer Wizard will help you get started using your DVD/CD writer with the software. This will test your drive to make sure it works with the backup software.
The software can write backups to any device with a writable Windows file system, not just DVD and CD writers. This includes folders on a hard drive, 3.5" diskettes, removable media devices like Zip drives, and portable devices like USB hard drives.
Select the folders and files you want to back up with an easy to understand dialog showing the folders on your hard disk. You browse through the folders, and click buttons to tell the software to back up folders or not. When you decide to back up a folder (or not), that decision also applies to all subfolders of that folder unless you say otherwise for individual folders.
Unless you say otherwise, if a folder is backed up all files in it will be backed up. You can, however, say to back up ONLY particular files, or all files EXCEPT particular files, and combinations of these conditions. You have complete control over what is backed up.
You can back up any data on any drive letter visible in Windows Explorer, not just your own hard disk. If you are using a network you can back up data stored elsewhere on the network, or even data stored on other devices such as CD-ROM drives or floppy diskettes. To back up over a network you will need to map the "shares" on the other computers to drive letters on your computer.
You can include your Windows registry in the backup.
Since you have such flexibility in specifying what to backup, naturally youíd like to be able to save all these instructions for when you want to make the same backup again later. The software saves this information in a backup plan, which is stored in a bunch of small files which reside in the folders for which youíve given instructions. The instructions for a particular folder are always stored in the plan file in that folder.
Storing the backup instructions in the folder to which they apply has another benefit - If the folder is renamed or moved, the instructions adapt automatically. This is because the instructions donít actually give the name of the folder they apply to - they always apply to the folder where they are found. This idea carries even further - if a new folder is created, it automatically inherits any backup instructions specified for its closest parent folder, and if you delete a folder any instructions in it are cleanly removed as well. All this means that your backups continue to save what you want no matter how you reorganize your hard disk.
The software will use as many DVD, CD, floppy, Zip or Jaz discs as necessary to hold your backup. When a disc becomes full, it will ask you to remove the old one and insert a new one. If a file will not fit entirely in the remaining space on a disc it will save the entire file on the next disc, unless your backup plan specifies to save such files using the "special" format described below.
If you interrupt a backup when it asks for a new backup disc, you can resume that backup later whenever you like. This is very useful for large backups requiring many discs.
Unless you say otherwise, Backup To DVD/CD/Flash does not use a proprietary file format to save the backup in. The folder heirarchy which was backed up is reproduced exactly on the backup disc(s), and all the files backed up are in the same folders as they are on your hard disk.
The big advantage to this is you can work with files on the backup directly on the backup disc, instead of having to restore them first. In most cases you can open documents and other files directly from the disc using the same software you would to open them from your hard disk, just using the drive letter for your DVD/CD writer. Realistically though, since DVD/CD writers are much slower to access than a hard disk if you want to do a lot of work with a backed up file you will want to restore it first.
This feature is also available in Backup Made Simple, by turning off the option to compress and split large files.
While saving files in their original format is much more convenient than using a proprietary format, for really large amounts of data this may not work so well. For example, you cannot save a file larger than the capacity of the backup disc using the original format. And it may simply take too many discs to make a total system backup, if you donít use file compression. For this reason, Backup To DVD/CD/Flash is also able to use a special format which avoids these problems. This format compresses the file contents using the same technology as used by the well known WinZip program, and will split the file across as many backup discs as necessary if it wonít fit on the current disc. You can specify in the backup plan to use this special format for all files above a certain size.
Backup Made Simple uses this proprietary format all the time, unless you turn it off.
Either program can restore any backup made by the other.
The software can either backup exactly the files specified in the backup plan, or it can apply an additional restriction to only backup files which have been modified in the recent past. You can tell the software how many days to look back, so you can backup only files modified in the last 10 days, 30 days, 122 days, whatever.
Also, you can elect to back up files whose "Archive" flag has been turned on. The "Archive" flag is turned on automatically by Windows when any program modifies the file. A complementary option to this one is the ability to turn off the "Archive" flag for all files included in the backup which were last modified more than some number of days ago. In other words, leave the "Archive" flag on long enough to allow the file to be included in several backups, but then turn it off.
Normally, every time you create a backup to the same destination (DVD/CD writer, folder on your hard disk, etc.) it first deletes any old backup it finds there. This is fine for really big backups, where you couldnít fit more than one at a time anyway, but itís not so fine for smaller backups such as backups which only include recently modified files.
For this reason, the software has an option to create a separate folder on the specified backup destination each time a backup is made, and name that folder for the date and time the backup was made. That way each backup goes in a separate folder, and it doesnít have to erase old ones to make room for new ones.
The software has an option to check an existing backup to confirm it is restorable. This is a good safety check as soon as the backup is made, but it is also valuable for older backups to make sure there are no problems caused by environmental exposure or other things that may affect the reliability of the backup media over time.
The software has several ways to restore from a backup: You can restore back to the original location or to an alternate location. You can restore any folder on the backup, either with or without including its subfolders. You can select individual files to restore, or everything in a folder. You can tell it to overwrite existing files when restoring, or not.
And of course if you did not use the special file format on the backup to compress big files, you can just copy the files off the backup disc with Windows Explorer!
Both programs allow backups to be made without any human participation, once the backup plan has been created. This is accomplished by starting the program with command line options to tell it what backup plan to use, where to save the backup, etc. All backup options are available when the program is used this way. This is very convenient to use from scheduling programs which can launch other programs are predefined times, such as System Agent.
While the scheduling programs included with Windows are very full featured, they can be difficult to use. For simple scheduling needs, such as waiting until a specified time that evening or the following morning, the backup software has a simple built in scheduler. You just tell it when to wait until before starting the backup.
The software can write several kinds of backup logs to your hard disk, so you can determine what was backed up, and what disc of a multi disc backup any file is on. Each backup plan can be configured to produce a detailed log of all folders and files backed up, where disc changes occurred, and the specifications used to create the backup. You can also tell it to create a shorter summary log instead, or no log at all. You have the option to save all the old backup logs for that backup type, or only the most recent one.