Review: Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Home
|Platforms:||Windows XP (32/ 64-bit), Windows Vista (32/ 64-bit), Windows 7 (32/ 64-bit)|
We’re generally a little cautious of software tagged with the “Home” label. Sometimes this can mean the program has significant limitations or omissions that greatly affect how it can be used.
Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Home is a very clear exception to this rule, though. It’s packed with high-end backup features, far more than you’ll find in most of the competition. And just in case that’s not enough, you get a host of hard drive management tools, too.
This power is evident just as soon as you launch the program. Your local and external drives are listed on a disk map, while various tasks are accessible via task panes, or a toolbar: “Smart Backup”, “Differential Partition Backup”, “Incremental File Backup”, disk copy options and busy menus all make it clear that Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Home is a program with plenty to offer.
But if you’re a PC novice then there’s no need to be put off, because none of this means the program is difficult to use. Helpful wizards walk you through most of its major features, and there’s no better example of this than the core task of creating a backup job.
Smart Backup Wizard
The simplest way to get started with Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Home is to launch its Smart Backup Wizard, a well-designed tool that exposes much of the program’s functionality in just a few clicks.
You’ll start by choosing your backup type, for instance, from one of five possible options.
“Disks or partitions” allows you to back up everything from an individual hard drive master boot record or first track (valuable for disaster recovery), to individual partitions or full hard drives.
“E-mail” will back up your emails, account details and the address book for Outlook, Outlook Express or Windows Mail (no Thunderbird support, unfortunately).
“Media Files” and “Documents” are two straightforward options that will protect your photos, music and videos, or Office documents stored in the My Documents folder.
And choosing “Other Files and Folders” lets you specify exactly which files and folders you’d like to back up.
The latter option can be tweaked further with file filters, so for example you can choose to exclude common temporary files from a drive backup (*.bak, *.old, *.tmp and so on), reducing the size of your backup file and improving performance.
Your backups can be saved to local, external or network drives, CD, DVD or Blu-ray discs, even FTP servers.
A basic scheduler allows you to set up the program to automatically run this backup daily, weekly, monthly perhaps, at the time you specify.
Or alternatively, you can use the wizard to generate a backup script, which can then be tweaked by you further to customise exactly how it works (turn on verification, adjust compression levels, whatever you want).
The Smart Backup Wizard is straightforward and easy to use. And we found its backups were efficient and speedy, running at close to the maximum performance allowed by our test hardware. This function alone could make it worth trying out the program, then – but Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Home has plenty of other features to offer.
Backups are normally a time-consuming hassle, but Backup & Recovery 10 Home has some useful tools that can help to improve the pain.
The program includes support for creating differential backups, for instance. First, you create a base backup, maybe your entire system drive, or all the files in a particular set of folders. Then, maybe a week later, you run another wizard to create a differential backup job, which saves only files that are new or have changed since the first backup was created. This will often be very, very few, and so differential backups run much faster as a result.
A feature called Cyclic Backup automates the process of backing up partitions. We’re not sure why Paragon gives it a new name, really – it looks like a regular partition backup with a schedule that allows it to run automatically. Still, the option makes it easy to set up a regular backup that can run unattended, without you having to remember or do anything.
And if all this seems a little too complex, then you can just use the program’s ability to schedule regular or partition copies. You’ll need a second hard drive, but they’re cheap, and once you’ve installed one then you can simply have Backup & Recovery 10 Home copy your system drive there at any convenient moment.
Again, they’re all wizard-driven, and while the scheduler is a little more basic then in some backup tools, there’s enough here to do the job. If you hate backups, there’s no need to worry, set up the appropriate jobs and (unless you’re burning them to CD, DVD or Blu-ray) you can just leave Backup & Recovery 10 Home to carry out its tedious tasks on your behalf.
Being able to easily back up the files you need is great, but what’s even more important is how you can restore those backups in an emergency. Fortunately Backup & Recovery 10 Home has plenty to offer here, too.
The program’s Recover Media Builder quickly walks you through the process of creating a bootable CD, DVD or USB Flash drive that you can use if Windows won’t start. This is unusually flexible – you can even add your own files or folders to its standard options – and comes with some useful recovery tools.
If Windows won’t start, then, you can boot from your recovery disc instead. We tried this and found a Linux-based environment, with a simple opening menu.
The first option to examine might be the Boot Corrector, which fixes many common Windows startup problems and may get your PC running again.
If that’s no help, the disc also includes a version of Paragon Backup & Recovery. Use this to restore your last backup and you should be back in business.
But if that also fails, the disc provides a File Transfer Wizard that will at least help you recover important documents from your broken PC, so everything won’t be lost.
If the situation is less dramatic – you’re not restoring your entire system drive, for instance – then you probably restore your backups from the main interface. Here there are wizards to help you restore individual partitions or entire hard drives, and they’re all very straightforward: select your backup, point it at the destination partition or drive, and in a click or two the restoration will be under way.
And perhaps most importantly, even if you’ve only created backup images of an entire drive, you don’t have to restore an entire image to recover your data. If you’ve just lost an important document, for instance, then Backup & Recovery 10 Home allows you to browse an image, locate and restore that file alone, a great convenience.
Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Home has strong core features, then, but that’s just the start. There are plenty of other interesting options, everywhere you look.
The program includes useful virtualisation support, for instance, allowing you to copy drives to virtual discs in a variety of common formats (VMware Workstation/ Fusion, Microsoft Virtual PC, VirtualBox).
You get a decent set of partition management tools, allowing you to create, format, delete, undelete, hide or unhide the partitions you specify, as well as assign drive letters, or scan them for file system or physical errors.
An option to create a Backup Capsule allows you to store a backup file in an isolated area of your main hard drive. And so, even if your drive’s file system is trashed by a virus, the Backup Capsule will remain accessible and your backups can be restored.
And there are lots of advanced drive-related tweaks you can make, with options to update your MBR, change your primary slots order, alter your partition ID, even view and edit your drives at the sector level.
Paragon Backup & Recovery 10 Home is an excellent tool, with a lot to recommend it. If there’s any down side, it’s in the fact that Paragon already give away the similar Backup & Recovery Free Advanced at no charge at all. It’s a backup tool for drives and partitions only (no file backups), and doesn’t have as many wizards or extras, but if you’re only looking for the partition-based basics then it may be worth trying that version first.