Today we will be reviewing GFI’s newest software release GFI Backup – Home Edition. Yes you heard me right, HOME edition. This is the first time that GFI is releasing a software title that is targeted at the home environment. And best of all, it’s FREE! This software has been released on the 14th of May 2009. As you will be seeing in this review, GFI backup is an application with a huge assortment of options and features. This makes it an incredibly useful tool to keep installed on your computer to take care of all your backups. You can practically set it once and forget it.
Intro: Most people nowadays practically have all their life saved on their computers. That’s why backup of all this data is a task that should never be overlooked. The potential problems that any person or business could face in case of a major data loss could be fatal, and in most scenarios the data is forever lost. Imagine losing all you photo albums, photos that have never been printed nor backed up, and photos of all your travels, activities, and life precious moments all LOST. Imagine other possible scenarios like all your documents, emails, financial data or your kid’s school or university assignments that get lost or corrupted from a virus that infected your computer.
That’s where backup software comes into play. There are countless software titles that can help you to perform and schedule your backups. I’ve selected GFI Backup – Home Edition because first of all it’s one of the latest backups software to be released and has an impressive feature, secondly because it comes from GFI, a leading company that has been releasing software primarily targeted to system administrators for decades, and they sure know what they are doing. Last by not least; the software is completely FREE!! I will be writing only about the main details of the software since writing about all the features would take me ages. For more information you can visit the official website at http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm
Initial download of the software is a breeze, you can download the software from http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm and the download is only about 8MB so on a high speed connection the download only takes seconds. Installation is equally fast with an easy step by step wizard interface. Once the installation is done, you can open the software from the start menu, or from the shortcut on the desktop. When the application is run, the user will be taken to a nicely designed intro screen with 4 main options, Backup, Restore (which are very obvious) My Tasks and Synch.
Clicking on the backup option, takes you to another 6 step wizard style process where once can create the fist backup task. The first tab allows you to specify a name and description of your task together with a very handy email notification (you need to setup your SMTP settings in the software before you use this feature), the second tab “source” allows you to choose the locations you want to backup, and also an incredibly useful feature that allows you to save user setting for particular software that is installed on your system, email backup feature and also some registry keys (a feature more targeted for the technical users).
When you select all the files that need to be backed up, it will immediately run a scan to decide how much space you will need on your backup device. While the scan is running, you can still switch to the 3rd tab which is the destination. This will be the place where you will be backing up your files. It can either be another internal or external hard disk, a local area network location, removable device like a USB stick or memory card, backup to CD or DVD or finally backup to FTP. With the FTP support though, there is no secure FTP functionality, meaning you need to set up a SSH session to ensure the security of your backup.
The 4th tab gives you some final options, if you have a lot of data you might want to consider using compression to shave off the file size of the backup a bit, however one must note that with every zip backup, the process will take much longer, so if disk space is not an issue, I would recommend keeping this off. Other settings worth mentioning are the encryption features. If you have sensitive data that needs to be backed up, one is suggested to use either a zip password protected encryption (which is a very basic security feature) or and AES encryption which is almost impossible to crack. It’s important at this point now to mention that if you lose the password for this backup archive, data retrieval will be impossible! So make sure to remember your password.
The last tabs in this wizard allow you to schedule your backups automatically and also event notification in case there are any errors in the backup process or backup summaries. Finally you can press the save button to save your backup task. When this is done, the software will automatically ask you if you want to run the backup task you have just created, you can either cancel it and run it another time, or press yes to start the backup.
The restore function on the main menu is pretty intuitive and it allows you to make a complete restore of your backup or chose the files and folders manually. In the section My Tasks, you can see the backup tasks you have previously created, from this menu, you can create new backup tasks, run a previously set task, delete tasks, and edit existing ones. There is also an advanced view for the more technical people. Another little gem in this package is the ability to synchronize as opposed to backing up. I did not have the time to test this functionality (since I don’t have anything to synchronise at the moment), but just going through it, seems like a sound option for those who may have a laptop, website or otherwise and need an option to keep things in sync.
One concern I do have on this software is the 4GB limit on any compressed or protected file. While I do understand that this is an issue with using the standard zip file format to maintain easy restoration from the backups, it is still an issue. This side of the application does need to be built upon further and a full system backup solution added. Final Verdict Overall this application does incredibly well. It performs backups in a respectable amount of time and getting set up is easy as well. Considering that a lot of people have actually paid cold hard cash for an application like this I think it’s one of the software that everyone should install on his computer to keep their data safe.