It doesn’t matter whether you’re a PC novice or an advanced user, something we are often being reminded about is making sure we back up our important data to keep it safe. In the event of disasters like a severe malware infection, system corruption or hardware failure it could save you major time and in some cases money. This is especially important if you have an OEM machine because often all data will be lost if it is sent to be repaired or replaced. You don’t usually have to look too far to find someone who has lost something important due to not backing up through lack of knowledge or worse, an “it won’t happen to me” attitude. I have to admit a few times over the years I have lost a few files through being a bit sloppy with my backup routine, but luckily have not yet lost anything of real importance.
There are numerous ways in which you can make backups these days and different methods to go with it. Cloud services such as Dropbox, Skydrive or Google Drive are popular for keeping a backup of your data but most internet upload speeds just aren’t fast enough to make storing Gigabytes of your documents or photo’s online an effective proposition. Even with the use of online services it is still highly recommended to keep backups stored locally because it’s never a 100% guarantee you can get to the files at all times.
There are two main methods of performing a backup. The first is taking a complete copy of the hard drive or partition, known as an image, which is what software like Acronis True Image or EaseUs Todo backup is designed for. The other way is backing up only selected important files from the system which is obviously a lot quicker and takes up less space than copying the whole drive but means reinstalling the system and programs in the event of a more serious problem. Quite a few programs around do file backups and most of them do a decent job including Syncback, FBackup, GFI and Backup Maker to name only a few. There’s definitely a wide selection of software that performs this task. Windows itself also has at least some basic backup or imaging functions.
Auslogics is well known for its freeware products like the popular Disk Defrag and also Duplicate File Finder and Registry Cleaner utilities. BitReplica is a file backup tool that aims to follow the same small, easy to use and efficient formula that makes their products so useful. The program allows you to quickly and easily backup or synchronize your files such as documents, photos and multimedia files. It is also has a number of internal profiles capable of backing up web browser and mail client data. Firefox, Internet Explorer, Chrome, Safari, Opera, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail, Outlook, IncrediMail and Thunderbird are all supported. It doesn’t backup drives or partitions but that really is not what it’s designed for.
Simply download and install BitReplica, Administrator privileges are required to run it.
The interface, like other Auslogics software is clean and nicely laid out. The main screen displays some simple system information such as processor, memory, total disk space, free disk space and also if there are any SMART issues with any of the drives. The program works on a principle of user backup profiles; Set the items to backup and give a target location, then select the backup method and a few options. Each profile can then be executed individually or all of them together.
To create a backup profile click one of the ‘Add Profile‘ buttons which will open a new window. A series of wizard like steps are then used to get all the needed information to create the profile. The windows are ‘What‘ to backup, ‘Where‘ to save the files to, ‘How‘ is which backup method to use and ‘When‘ to backup. The last two are for advanced settings and a summary screen of the profile before saving.
The ‘What‘ screen is where you can select from a number of predefined system areas such as ‘Documents‘ or ‘Pictures‘, the browser or mail client data can also be selected here. A few small perhaps early bugs here are; I have Windows Live Mail installed with default settings but BitReplica did not pick it up even though it is on the list of supported mail clients. It did not pick up Outlook Express in XP either although Outlook was found. To include a custom folder choose the button to add one. If you have a lot of custom folders to add, a tick box requester would come in useful here. Copying currently open or locked files is not supported as yet.
The ‘Where‘ window is where you choose the destination drive or folder to store the backups. Each drive will show the amount of free space available and selecting the ‘Suggest the best location‘ will auto choose the drive with the largest free space. Only one drive in the list will throw up an error window rightly telling you it is a bad idea to backup to the same drive for obvious reasons. Unfortunately, backing up to remote locations or CD/DVD is not available as yet although if you use compression, the option is at least there to split the archive into CD/DVD size chunks. Auslogics is apparently looking to implement FTP and optical drive support in the near future.
Choosing which backup method to use is found using the dropdown box in the ‘How‘ window. Synchronization, Incremental and Differential modes are all there which is good because not all free backup software includes them. The ‘Simple Copy‘ mode has no other options but the other four do. Things like zip compression, and rules when to delete old backups or create new full ones are selectable.
The dropdown box in the ‘When‘ window is whether you want to perform the backup task manually or at the specified intervals.
The ‘Advanced‘ window has a few useful options including backing up NTFS extended data streams, verifying the backed up files after completion, and allowing the execution of external programs before the backup and also after it’s completed. Another option is choosing any file types to exclude from the process such as executables, read only files or video files. Note that System, Temporary and Hidden types are selected by default so if you want them included remember to untick them from here.
The last screen is the summary screen where you can get brief information of the options you have chosen, change the profile name and see when the next backup is to be processed if there is a schedule.
Once back to the main window the profiles appear on the left hand side and clicking on one will bring up the status window for it including the logs, what’s being backed up and when, the destination and also what backups have already been created. A new backup folder can be added here as well as changing the destination folder. To start a backup process immediately simply click the ‘Run‘ button and the progress details will show in BitReplica’s status bar. The final result and any failures will show in the log.
To perform a restore click on the desired created backup in the list and click ‘Restore‘. A window will give the option of what to restore if you don’t want everything and whether to always, never or only overwrite newer files.
A couple of options in the menus worth noting are the option to import or export the program settings and profiles and also the option to create a Desktop shortcut for a profile, duplicate a profile or disable one.
When testing BitReplica it backed everything up I asked it to at a similar speed copying between the locations would normally take. Adding zip compression or verifying will obviously take longer. A USB stick, ordinary hard drive, SSD and network drive were all tried and worked fine and the only errors produced were my fault in trying to backup open files which isn’t supported at the moment. As this is the initial release of BitReplica it works pretty well from the off although it did miss the mail clients I mentioned. That was really the only real problem I encountered with it. If they can sort out the minor bugs, add what they have said and a few more things like multi select folders, backing up to remote locations and being able to password protect the backup, Auslogics could have another hugely popular product. While not loaded with advanced options, it has enough for most users and is quick and easy to use with the minimum of fuss.