NTI Backup Now Deluxe 3.0 is a powerful backup application with useful features, including the ability to save backups with DVD drives and save data to multiple drives. As such, Backup Now deserves your attention, especially with its free-for-life technical support. Not that the software is perfect. But while Backup Now won't back up to FTP sites and makes storing files to a local area network (LAN) difficult, the software's strong and easy interface offsets these shortcomings. Unlike rollback utilities, such as Roxio GoBack, which can restore your system only to a previous state, Backup Now is more versatile, backing up or restoring specific files or whole drive volumes. At $79.95, this application is expensive, but it's worth the convenience and features. Those on a budget might prefer the $30 Handy Backup, although it lacks versatility.
In our tests, Backup Now Deluxe installed without incident and unlike Handy Backup, worked immediately with our drives: a 16X/10X/40X CD-R/RW and an 8X/4X/24X CD-R/RW drive. The software works only on PCs running Windows 95, 98, Me, NT, 2000, and XP, and it is designed for local backups rather than backups across the Internet.
The main screen of Backup Now Deluxe shows the Explorer-like interface in the main body and the step-by-step interface to the left.
The key strength of the program is its built-in step-by-step guide to making backups. In step one, you select the folders and/or files you wish to include in the backup, using an Explorer-like two-pane display. In step two, you select the backup destination (hard disk, mapped network disk, CD- or DVD-rewritable drives) or across multiple CD or DVD burners, if you have more than one installed in your system. This so-called drive spanning essentially lets you back up more data at once, thus saving time. For example, you could conceivably back up several gigabytes of data across two DVDs in two DVD writers without having to swap discs. We tested the process with two CD-R/RWs, and it worked just fine.
In addition to its media-spanning capabilities, Backup Now Deluxe supports various backup platforms, including Zip, Jaz, and the new USB keychain drives. It also lets you schedule your backups to run when you're not around, say, late at night. For secure backups, there's an option for encrypted password protection.
You get a detailed summary of the drive properties while determining the location on which to save your backup file.
When restoring a backup, Backup Now offers the standard options of not replacing identically named files, replacing them, or replacing only older with newer. You also have the option of restoring the files to the original location or an alternative one--a welcome choice. If there ever is an interruption while backing up, the Intra Backup Restart feature automatically restarts the backup process.
Depending on your needs and resources, however, Backup Now Deluxe has a couple of potential deficiencies. First, you can't send your backups to an FTP site, which may affect only users who maintain a Web site. Handy Backup, on the other hand, will back up to an FTP site. Second, Backup Now's backups to a LAN aren't as straightforward as they should be. Instead of simply selecting a destination in My Network Places, you'll first have to map a network drive (thereby giving it a local drive letter), then send the backup files to the new "local" drive.
We tested Backup Now Deluxe on a Compaq with a 1.1GHz Athlon, 512MB of RAM, a 48X/24X/48X CD-R/RW drive, and three hard disks totaling 240GB of disk space and on a home-built Pentium III-550 system with 256MB of RAM, two 60GB drives, a 16X/10X/40X CD-R/RW, and an 8X/4X/24X CD-R/RW drive. On the Pentium III system, the ability to span multiple drives proved extremely handy, with the second drive taking over from the first whenever the first CD-R was full. Obviously, it would have been even more effective had the drives been more equivalent in speed, but as it was, the two drives made unattended backups possible. Backing up to an internal hard disk was, as expected, the fastest of all the methods.
You'll increase the time significantly by selecting the option to compare the backup file and the originals, but you'll also increase the backup's accuracy.
In testing, we experienced no difficulties on either system. Backups executed smoothly, and subsequent incremental and differential backups were also incident free. Restoring also operated without flaw.
The scheduler allows you to select the days of the week or (not shown) the day of the month on which the backup is to automatically take place.
Once you register your copy of Backup Now, you'll get free tech support--via toll call, e-mail, fax, or the Web--for the life of the product. Such support generosity is a welcome feature, considering the importance of your backups. In testing, our two calls were each answered in less than two minutes, and the attendants were courteous and knowledgeable.