The advantage of using your computers, or your friends', is that you can store large files (such as music and video); most online backup services charge fees that make it prohibitively expensive to back up media files.
LogMeIn Backup works only on Windows 2000 and Windows XP systems. When the final product becomes available on April 30, 2006, the cost of maintaining the service on one or two computers will be $6.95 per month. More PCs may be added to your private network for an extra $5.95 per month. 3am Labs also offers a free 30-day trial period.
To install LogMeIn Backup, simply create a new account (an existing LogMeIn remote-access account won't work), then download the service. While you can use the service on just one computer (backing up stored files into a unique folder within Windows), 3am Labs recommends that you install the service on two different computers, protecting your data against a single system failure. Using the same login account information, you need to download the applet on both computers. Afterward, whenever you launch the program on the computer you want to back up, you'll see the second computer listed beside your local computer. If your remote storage PC is turned off, however, the link is displayed but grayed out. Unfortunately, we were unable to rename our computers, and we hope that future releases of LogMeIn Backup allow you to assign unique names such as Home and Storage.
The interface for LogMeIn Backup was straightforward. Along the left-hand column are various actions, such as creating, modifying, and running a new backup set; deleting a backup set; restoring; setting preferences; and viewing backup histories. Two large windowpanes dominate the right-hand side of the screen, with the top half displaying available backup sources (local and remote drives), and the bottom half--apparently superfluous--either empty or repeating information displayed in the upper half. We found the navigation intuitive; it was easy to create a backup set and start storing our data. Oddly, there is no in-program help file listed among the options. For a look inside, see our LogMeIn Backup slide show here.
Backups can be run manually or scheduled so that you never have to worry about them again. LogMeIn Backup allows you to create different schedules for different backup sets. For example, you might want to back up your financial data daily but your music files only once a week. The size of the backup is limited only by the space available on your target machine. All backup sets are stored in a proprietary file format and sent to the storage PC via 256-bit Secure Socket Layer (SSL). Additionally, if you are storing your data on a friend's or a family member's PC, your stored data may be password protected or even encrypted so that they cannot read it.
When you need to restore, the Restore button displays a familiar directory tree of folders and files in the upper window, with check-box options to select all or individual files for restoration.
LogMeIn Backup is an intriguing service, giving you the option to back up to your own hard drive or to store your data remotely on a machine under your control, but if you're going to pay almost $7 a month for this service, you really should take advantage of the remote-access capabilities and store your data far from home. While the ease of use will please beginners, the lack of configuration features may frustrate more-advanced users.
At the time of this beta, the only technical-support option available was via e-mail. Check back to read a full review of LogMeIn Backup on May 1, 2006.