Review: Oops!Backup 2

August 4, 2010 – 09:46 by in Reviews Print Share No Comment

Backing up your PC has traditionally been a fairly tedious process. You’ll spend ages browsing your PC, defining exactly which files and folders should be copied. There will be include and exclude filters to build, complex settings to consider. And each backup will take so many system resources that you probably won’t run it too often, which means if disaster does strike then you’ll probably lose a considerable amount of data.

It doesn’t have to be this way, though. Oops!Backup promises easier configuration, continuous data protection, automatic and regular backups of changed files only, simple restore, minimal resource use, and support for versioning, so you can examine multiple older versions of the same document to get precisely the data you need. This sounded promising, so we downloaded the program to take a closer look, and were immediately impressed by the Oops!Backup approach.

It’s quick and easy to set up your backup, for instance. The opening wizard will by default protect your key folders: Desktop, Documents, Pictures, Music and more, so if you’re happy with this then there’s no further work involved. But if you have other ideas, then you’re able to specify alternative folders in a few clicks.

The program uses genuine intelligence to guide you in making the right decisions. It doesn’t just blindly accept any drive as a backup destination, for example, recommending instead that you use network or removable drives if possible. And warning you of any drives that don’t have enough space to hold a full backup right now.

And there are no complicated setup options to worry about, no need to agonise over whether an incremental or differential backup most suits your needs. If you’re a PC novice then you can simply accept all the default settings, and you’ll have a very acceptable backup configuration. But the best part of Oops!Backup is still to come.

Continuous data protection

Once the initial setup wizard is complete then Oops!Backup will copy all the folders you’ve specified to your destination drive. Exactly how long this takes will vary according to your hardware, but in our tests the program’s main priority seemed to be not to get in your way. We were able to use our trial PC without noticing this background backup at all.

After this, Oops!Backup continues to run in the background, taking careful note of every file that’s created or modified in your backup folders. An “Events” list on the program console displays these changes, which is interesting in itself, as you can remind yourself of the edits you’ve made at a glance.

And then, every hour by default, Oops!Backup copies those new or modified files to their destination folder. Or more specifically, it uses what the authors call ReverseDelta technology to copy only the part of a file that has changed. So if you’ve edited a huge Word document, say, then only your modifications will be saved, not the whole file, a move that can greatly reduce the size of any backup.

Of course if you’ve an external backup drive that you’re physically transporting between different systems then these regular backups won’t be possible. But still, the program does its best to make life easy with something the authors call “Plug and Protect”, which fires up a backup as soon as you connect your drive. It’s a good idea, and again requires no intervention – the software detects the drive’s arrival and transfers your modified files entirely automatically.

However backups are launched, our trials showed the end result was a very smooth experience. We wouldn’t have even realised Oops!Backup was doing anything at all, if it wasn’t for the pop-up alerts that appeared every hour to say “the backup is complete”. These were a little annoying, but again, Oops!Backup proved to be designed with ease of use in mind. Most other tools would require that you poked around some bulky setup dialog to find out how these could be turned off, but here you just click an alert, and a dialog asks if you’d like to stop receiving alerts. Click “Yes” and they’re gone forever.

The only minor issue we had with the backup module is its memory requirements. Oops!Backup has a couple of processes running at any one time, and during our tests they would regularly consume 50 to 60MB of RAM (and up to 100MB on one occasion), so this isn’t the most lightweight of tools. This isn’t bulky enough to make any noticeable difference to a modern PC, but if you’re running an underpowered old system with more than its share of background processes then it might be concern.

Hidden power

We’ve established that Oops!Backup is good at staying out of your way, then. But what if you like to tweak settings, customise options, get programs working exactly the way you’d like? Then it turns out the program has something to offer you, too.

You don’t have to accept the default hourly backup frequency, for instance. This can be changed to however many minutes, hours or days best suits your requirements.

If you’re short on backup disk space then you can have the program purge older versions of the documents its protecting, anything that’s been around for more than the number of days you specify.

You might choose to enable Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Service, which allows Oops!Backup to copy files that are in use. Oddly this isn’t turned on by default, as we’d expect, but that can be fixed in a couple of clicks.

And you’re able to tweak how Oops!Backup’s ReverseDelta technology works, taking some control over the files where it’s used, and deciding how many full copies you’d like to keep, which again may influence how much hard drive space your backups require. (Having full copies also means you can recover files directly from the drive, even if your PC crashes and you don’t have an installed copy of Oops!Backup and more.)

The best part of these tweaks, though, is they don’t have to be global: you can set them differently for each of your backup sources. So you could have your Documents folder backed up every 30 minutes, say, and keep any file versions for a couple of years. While the MostlyJunk folder need only have its contents surveyed once a day, and its old versions are deleted after a week.

This could of course get complicated, but then you don’t have to worry about such fine details. If you want an easy life, then just accept the default global settings for every backup folder. But if you’re a knowledgeable user who just wants to optimise the size and speed of your backup, then it’s good to know you have the option to make that happen.

Easy restore

Straightforward backups are great, but it’s the restore process, when you’re panicked because data has been lost, that really needs to impress. So how does Oops!Backup perform? Surprisingly well, as it happens.

If you’re missing a particular document then the program has two ways to locate it.

The simplest option is to type the file name (or some part of it) in the Search box, and press [Enter]. Oops!Backup will scour your backup set, display anything with a matching name, and a quick double-click on the correct document will display its containing folder.

Or if you don’t recall the file name, then you can manually view and browse through your backed-up folders until you locate it. Thumbnail previews will help you speedily locate images, and other file types can be previewed using the regular views on your PC in a few clicks.

However you locate the correct folder, a list on the right-hand side of the screen will then show you all the backups available. Click on the backup for an hour ago, yesterday, last week, whenever you like, and you’ll see the folder as it was at that moment in time. And it’s then easy to restore all the files in the folder, or just one, either to the original location, or some other folder of your choice.

We did spot one small problem in our tests. Oops!Backup allows you to restore a single file, or entire folder, but there’s no option to do anything in between. You can’t Ctrl+Click on two or three files and restore just those, for instance. This isn’t a major issue – you could always repeat the restore action on each file, or restore the entire folder somewhere and extract only the files you needed – but it is an irritation, and hopefully something that will be fixed in a future version.

For the most part, though, locating and restoring files proved to be a quick, simple and straightforward process. Which is very much like the rest of the program. And so if you accidentally delete or modify a file from one or your protected folders then you’ll be very glad to Oops!Backup installed, as it’ll ensure your vital document is restored with the absolute minimum of hassle.

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