Backup Made Easy...6pt Guide

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Subject: Backup Made Easy...6pt Guide
Name: LED
Date: 11/21/2005 3:19:38 PM (GMT-7)
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In 2 parts sent to me via e-mail by Burningbits News letter:

Backup Made Easy: A Six Point Guide to Buying Backup Software, PART 1

Many people and businesses lose their data because the product they've bought doesn't live up to its initial promise. With hundreds of backup software vendors on the market, people usually perform searches on such generic keywords as "backup software" to find themselves with millions of documents to sift through before making an "informed" decision. With so many pages people would typically look at the first ten or twenty entries and either buy the first thing that comes near their budget, or give up or end up buying software that is too expensive for their needs.

Before buying backup software, you must first look at your real needs and make a list of product attributes and related features that will satisfy these needs. Second, look at the software vendors who are reviewed by computer magazines and compare their products across your needs list. Third, look at whether the vendors have been in the business for several years and whether they have a reputation for great customer support and product innovation.

The most difficult of these stages is building the attribute and features list. The Six Point Guide to Buying Backup Software should give you thorough knowledge of what attributes and features you should look for in any backup software. Due to constraints of space, I have split this guide in two parts. In Part One I will briefly describe each of the attributes while in Part Two, explain each attribute and detail all the related features.

1) "Ease of Use": Ask, how easy is it to install the backup software? How easy is it to set up the first backup? How easy is it to use the backup software regularly and to create backup schedules? How easy is it to restore data?

2) "Value for Money": this is rather subjective and does depend on your budget. However, don't just look at the price of the product. Think of how long does it would take to use the product. How long does it take to make backups and restores? As a home user, this may not be that important but as a business user, you wouldn't want to spend half an hour just to run your daily backups.

3) "Reliability": Many backup companies focus only on the backup side of things rather on the restore. Just think, what is most important in backup is the ability to restore data without losing anything. Therefore, ask, can I install the product, set up a schedule and then rest assured that my data is being backed up with 100% accuracy?? What levels and types of data validation does the product have to guarantee restores?

4) "Performance": Of course, you must have a product that is fast and that does not sacrifice reliability, value for money and ease of use for sheer raw power. Who would want to have a 100% accurate restore product that takes one hour to backup a few hundred megs of data!

5) "Depth of Feature Set": What features does the product have? How does the product compare to other vendors? Many times you would have to draw up these comparison sheets unless the vendor has done it for you.

6) "Breadth of Backup and Media Coverage": Finally, make sure that the product backs up your PC (or notebook) and supports a strong list of backup storage media including CD, Pen Drives, Zip Drives, etc


Backup Made Easy: A Six Point Guide to Buying Backup Software, PART 2

In Part One, I mentioned the six attributes that the backup industry uses to classify the various features of their products. In this second part, I will explain each attribute in greater detail so as to give you a thorough knowledge of what to look for in backup software.

Ease of Use: You need to ask a set of questions in relation to how easy it is to install and configure the software, to use the product to back your data and to use the product to restore your data. For example: Is the install interface clear and unequivocal? Are the steps written in plain English and do not leave any place for choosing the wrong options? Is the product easy to use and user friendly? Is the user interface built in a Windows-familiar environment? Are the user-interface and the commands intuitive? Does the product allow step-by-step backup and restore? Does the product allow non-technical users to make use of this product? How easily can the user browse around the various options to set up backups and restores? How easily can the user browse around the documents and application settings to set up backups? Are there any shortcuts to this data and settings? How easily can the user browse the backup archive to find and restore multiple or single files?

Value for Money: Money is always an issue, otherwise, we would all be living the life of the rich and famous! However, this may not always be the case with backup software. We usually advise people not to look at the price tag on its own but to make calculations as to the relationship between price and functionality and price and time spent on backup and restore. For example, does the vendor offer limited functionality with the "bare-bones" product and more functionality pricey "add-ons" that only together will the product provide the required protection? Does the product sacrifice performance and reliability for price? Are upgrades and patches available at a charge? In relation to the time factor, buyers must beware. Beware, some brands may be more costly than others to administer. If, for example, the compression technology of the particular product is not strong, it takes longer to perform backups the data backed up is spread over a larger number of media (taking up more storage space). Therefore, although a product may be less pricey, it may be more expensive to run in the long term.

Reliability: The issues of reliability are three-fold - (a) does the product deliver consistently a 100% accurate restore of the set of data that was backed up? This includes such aspects as reliable schedules, accurate reporting and fault logging features (whether you are alerted when and if things go wrong), and validation of data integrity. Data validation or verification is extremely important because there are certain technologies (e.g., bit level validation) that guarantee that your data restores are 100% accurate. (b) Does the product secure your data from prying eyes? Although, at face value, this may not be important to the user, think about whether you would like somebody else to steal your backup files and looking at (or distributing) your personal data. Therefore, ask whether the product has password protection and supports the best levels of encryption. (c) Is the vendor reliable? Does the vendor provide technical and customer support? Is the vendor slow to answer?

Performance: The product must be fast and it must not sacrifice sheer power for reliability, value for money, and ease of use. You must be able to backup your data securely and accurately in a few minutes and not spend a fortune on such basic functions.

"Depth of Feature Set": What features does the product have? How does the product compare to other vendors? The features that you should have are - compression, encryption, scheduling and reporting, popular media support, high data volume support (as few products have actually overcome the problem of memory leakage), validation or verification of data integrity, full and incremental backup feature, restore multiple or single files to original and to any location, and strong fault-logging.

"Breadth of Backup and Media Coverage": Finally, make sure that the product backs up your PC (or notebook) and supports a strong list of backup storage media including CD, Pen Drives, and Zip Drives.

One final tip: it is important to read the independent reviews on the various products published by magazines and websites such as

Our top picks for Backup Software are:

Top DVD Copy Software winner: 1 Click DVD Copy. Click or Use this link to read review and learn more:

Top PC/Data Backup Winner: WinBackup 2.0 Standard. Click or Use this link to read review and learn more:

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