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NTI Backup Now! 3
Page 2 - Backup Now! 3 Usage
Author: Dan Podhola (WebMasterP)
Date: August 08, 2004
Category: Software
Options: Printable Version 12 pt Times New Roman 10 pt Times New Roman 12 pt Tahoma 10 pt Tahoma


Backup Now! 3 Backup Function
When first opened for the first time and every time after that NTI Backup Now! 3 (BN!3) shows a splash screen and then opens to its GUI. The user is not met with any wizards or "Tip of the Day" dialogs. I find this refreshing because I believe these "features" distracting and counter-productive.

The first thing a user is going to want to do is create a backup job. This process is achieved by utilizing four large buttons on the left side of the window that represent the four stages of creating a backup (five if you count scheduling). When BN!3 opens, it defaults to the Backup - Step 1 window. In this window the user browses through the directory structure on the computer and checks checkboxes of files to back up.

The interface is straightforward and in no way difficult to use. However, the UI for this step lacks some usability fundamentals, namely common backup items. For instance, a lot of users use Microsoft Outlook or Outlook Express; few, however, know where the Outlook database file is located for these programs. It would be nice to be able to give this program to my technically inept parental unit and have it backing up its Outlook emails without knowing that the PST file is located in C:\Documents and Settings\[Username]\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook. Granted there are vast amount of email clients in use, like Thunderbird and Eudora, but it would be nice to have some sort of auto-detection mechanism that provides checkboxes for commonly backed up items.

Step 1
Step 1
Step 2
Step 2

Once the user has chosen the files BN!3 should back up, the next step is to select where to back the file up. This part of the process was well implemented. My TDK 48x burner was detected without a hitch. Backup Now also detected media speed capabilities of various CD-Rs correctly (see the "Step 2" image above where a 24x rated CD-R was detected). Here the user can choose between any type of drive mapped, plugged in, etc. I made successful backups to the local C:\ drive, my mapped Linux share (Samba), various CD-Rs, and CD-RWs. In this step you also name the media. You can name the file whatever you like, but don't expect to be able to append the date or time anywhere in the file name as this is not an options -- a major shortcoming.

Step 3
Step 3
Start Prompt
Start Prompt

After the backup destination has been established, the backup type is decided. BN!3 offers three options: full, differential, and incremental backups. The latter two can only be utilized after a full backup. The option to be able to have a differential or incremental backup is a useful feature and something I have not seen in the products I have reviewed thus far.

For those of you unfamiliar with the differences between differential and incremental backups, allow me to explain. For both types of backups the user starts out with a 'base' backup, which constitutes all the files you want backed up. With an incremental backup the software scans for any changed files or any new files in a backed up directory -- only those files are written to the backup file. Differential is like incremental, except once a file has changed it is backed up in every backup job that follows, whether it has changed or not. Differential uses more disk space but is much easier to use come time to restore -- only the base backup and the final differential backup need to be restored. Incremental uses less disk space but might require the user to restore every incremental backup made to get all the files back.

Ooops!
Ooops!

It is definitely worth mentioning that the software did not work for me right out of the box. It crashed during the write phase of my first backup attempt. This was remedied by downloading an update to the software from NTI's website. The optical drive drivers that NTI prides itself in are easy to update (Top menu: Tools -> Live Update). Updating the program software, on the other hand, is not as easy. As I mentioned above, you have to go to NTI's website, download the patch, install it, and reboot.

Finally, I must mention the scheduler, though I need not say much about it. The scheduling system is presented as a final step in the vertically ordered step buttons. The actual scheduling software, which is daemon with a simple GUI, is made available as a separate program listed in Backup Now! 3's 'Start Menu' folder. A backup is scheduled by clicking the schedule button and setting the time and day(s) to run the backup. Clicking on the "OK" button will add the current backup job to the scheduler queue. The scheduler adds another icon to the (sometimes cluttered) icon tray. What I did find useful was that, unlike previous backup software I've used, BN!3 will burn to disks its already backed up some data on if there is free space. This saves money, disc clutter, and time when restoring incremental backups from optical disks.

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