Just Add Water? Memeo Instant Backup

When I first heard about Memeo Instant Backup, I objected that no program that backed up your entire hard drive could possibly be “instant.” Hard drives are getting bigger and bigger, so copying them takes longer and longer.

Robert Phillips explained to me that the “instant” part refers to the fact that the backup process starts instantly: as soon as you install the product, it begins backing you up. You don’t have to tell Instant Backup anything except where you want it to put your files. It’s designed to be easy enough for your grandparents to use, and the author of the press release tried it on hers to make sure.

I was expecting something designed to compete with Rebit, but that’s not quite what I got. Memeo Instant Backup is simple, yes. It’s got a colorful, friendly user interface, and it gets right down to work. It even works pretty quickly, and after the initial backup, its continuous monitoring doesn’t put too much drain on the system. But it’s got a little truth in advertising problem that you need to know about.

The reason I was expecting a software version of Rebit was this statement: “Protect your entire computer instantly. All files on your C drive will be included in the backup plan.” As I found out after running Memeo Instant Backup, this is simply not true. Let’s walk through it and see if you can spot what’s missing.

One minor but early irritation was the inability to choose which directory to install the program to, but that’s because I’m a “power user” type. The people this product is aimed at don’t care about things like that, if they even know they’re an option. There are very few options available in Memeo Instant Backup, but that’s a deliberate move to avoid confusing the user. In essence, there are two things you can do: back up everything, or restore everything. Oh, and you can pause a backup while it’s running if you need to, say, move or rename a file you just downloaded.

The interface is attractive and easy to understand. An illustration of a computer monitor shows the relative proportions of the different kinds of data you have on your machine, while a progress bar shows how much of the available space on your backup device is occupied.

Memeo Instant Backup's backup window

(In case you’re wondering, I chose the new Metro drive from Buffalo as the backup destination.)

Those colorful icons and the size of the completed backup should be your first hint that Memeo Instant Backup is not really backing up the entire C drive. Enna is a fairly old laptop, so my C drive is only 80 GB, though I have a second 80 GB drive built in, as well. Right now my C drive is about half full: I’ve used 40.2 GB. The size of that backup is 15.4 GB.

Contents of backup folderWhat’s missing? The obvious answer is “program files.” Memeo refers specifically to documents, pictures, music, videos, and “others.” If you look at the actual backup destination folder, that’s even more explicit. Instant Backup avoids operating system folders and default program installation folders, so the “Program Files” and “Windows” directories are conspicuous by their absence, are many of the subfolders from “Documents and Settings.”

Leaving out the system files is fair enough, though I don’t think you can make a truthful claim to back up an entire drive if you skip them. But there’s something else missing here, and it’s a pretty big oversight.

Not one of those folders contains my Outlook PST folder. For the uninitiated, Outlook stores all its data in a folder called Outlook.pst that’s stored in Documents and Settings\User Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook. You will notice there is no such folder here. That means that my e-mail, calendar, and contacts are not backed up. (Well, not by Memeo. I am, of course, backing them up.) Maybe the assumption is that everybody’s grandparents use Yahoo! or Gmail or Hotmail.

instant-restoreAt least the fact that these files and folders neatly replicate the structure on your C drive means that it’s possible to restore a single file via drag and drop, because you can’t do it through the Memeo Instant Backup restore interface. The only option there is to restore all your files, though you do get the choice of whether to restore them to their original location or an alternative location. Whether you will ever then be able to delete them from that alternative location seems to be an open question.

Memeo Premium Backup lets you restore individual files and has other features that the less expensive Instant Backup lacks. I’ve written about its predecessors before if you’re interested.

Instant Backup seems to do a pretty good job at the things it does. I do think the lack of e-mail backup is a serious drawback for anyone who uses a POP mail client, and that the claim to back up “your entire drive” should be adjusted to something more factual. Nevertheless, I like the program as a tool for technophobes who need to back up their photos, documents, and music. It’s friendly, easy to use, and unobtrusive. It will also probably improve in subsequent versions, the way Memeo’s other products have.


  1. says

    Thanks for taking a look at Memeo Instant Backup™ Sallie, we appreciate your feedback on the product. Here are a few points for your readers to consider:

    1. If users click on the “i” in the main window of the UI, we list folders that will not be backed up. But apparently this is not prominent enough. Our goal is always to be open and honest.

    2. Backing up PST files is scheduled for our next release which will be available within the next week.

    3. You are exactly right about your “power user” status. This product is intended for users who don’t understand technology or who don’t want to deal with technology – that’s exactly why there are so few options – such as selecting folders to back up or selecting specific files to restore. Memeo has other products for these users.

    4. As for a Rebit comparison, we feel this product actually matches up quite well.
    – It’s certainly as easy to use (or easier) as any product on the market
    – have a automatic restore function versus only a “drag and drop” manual function for Rebit
    – We are Windows 7 compliant
    – At $29.95, Memeo is nearly half the price of Rebit. For users who want more functionality with we offer Memeo Premium Backup, which at $49.95 (the same price as Rebit), offers substantially more functionality than rebit.

    5) As for the name – remember, Instnat Backup not only instantly starts to backup, it also instantly protects any new or changed file automatically.


    • says

      I definitely overlooked the “i”, and I’m glad to hear that PST backup is in the works. Rebit actually backs up your software and has a bare-metal reboot option; the last Memeo Autobackup I used doesn’t. That doesn’t make it a bad product, mind you; it’s just important to be clear about what it is and isn’t. I think making products for neophytes and technophobes is very important, but these are exactly the people who are most likely not to realize that when you say “backs up your whole hard drive,” you don’t really mean their whole hard drive.

  2. Mark Mazuzan says

    I have installed Memeo auto backup on my PC. It does not seem to work continiously. Every few days I need to reboot or open the Memeo application window and poke it to get it to start working. To me the whole beauty of the application is to have it purring along in the background. Do you have any experience with this issue? Thanks,


  3. Ross Eltherington says

    Hi Mark,

    If you are having to restart every few days to get Memeo Backup working, then there is something else going on. The program is absolutely designed to run in the background silently, backing up files as you make changes.
    If you can contact me directly, I can make sure you have the latest version and get you up and running so that no poking is necessary 😉



  4. Ken Wilson says

    Memeo has obviously missed a few things here and so did Seagate. I bought this drive to be able backup my parents drive which is still using XP and some older programs.

    You by a backup drive the software shoud at minimum allow the user to pick those files they want to back up.

    Those older programs store data in the program files directory, but the software won’t let you choose any of those folders.

    This has rendered the software completely useless to me and my parents.

    Definitely will not be using this to backup files with.

    Back to the windows software

  5. Jamie Ashby says

    I’m very glad to have found this exchange about the Seagate/Memeo external hard drive. We have backed up our files in preparation for restoring them to our new computer. However, when I click on Restore on the Memeo pane, it tells me that I don’t have a backup plan to restore. IMO the plan is built into the hard drive since it only copies and restores all files–no customization allowed. After much research into this I found instructions for creating a backup plan but Memeo Instant Backup (we don’t have the premium version) will not let me do this. I can use Windows Easy Transfer but I have to buy a $40 cable to do so which is ridiculous since I paid over $100 for the Seagate drive which should be able to restore my files for me. I sent an email to the support address in one of the replies on this site, but nobody has written me back. I need to know why the restore feature will not work and would appreciate a response from someone who can help. I’m beginning to think that I did not make a good purchase. Thank you in advance for your time.

  6. Nick says

    I have bought a 1TB external seagate with Memeo Instant Backup. Two serious downsides:
    1. Initial copying of 100GB from disks C and D without encription took 30 hours. Copying of disk E,400GB, is apparently going to take 120 hours, This is unacceptable.
    2.After initial copying, if I create new or modify old files the program does create new and modify old files. However, when I delete or move files the program would not delete the files I don’t need anymore. Therefore, if I need to restore my files after some years in case of a falure I would not be able to sort this huge amount of rubbish.

  7. Trev says

    Once you have verified that files have been backed up to your external hard drive. You can delete those files from your computer. Make sure that you do not have the ‘Purge Deleted Files’ option turned on. The option is located under the Settings menu. When you backup files to the external hard drive we do not recommend modifying at that location because it may cause corruption.

  8. Anna says

    I just purchased a Seagate portable external hard drive with the Memeo software included. I started the “instant backup” of the C drive, as it seemed the easiest option, but it’s only backing up 9GB! I don’t know which 9GB it’s backing up, but I have WAY more than 9 GB on my C drive. It seems to have missed the “Users” subfolder in the C drive, which is where all my documents, photos, etc. are stored. I guess I will just have to drag & drop everything when it’s done with whatever it’s doing – which seems like it will take forever. Not very impressed with the software so far…

  9. Lukas says

    It’s useless for restoring your data once the source OS has been reinstalled or your disc fails, it doesn’t know where to find the backup plan and without it, you can’t do a thing.
    You’ve more luck dragging and dropping or using Windows backup.
    Don’t waste your precious time on this product.

  10. Jeff says

    Ditto, Seagate needs to be embarrassed about this one, wait for a class action suit, to see real change! Don’t get me wrong I own 3 Seagate products and support them, but when the Instant Backup (3rd party product in bundle) says to ANY user “DRIVE C:”, this means drive C. The fact that you can not really tell what is being backed up, open them to nasty legal action (this shocks me that they would open this door so wide). Dumbing down is great, as most (no insult intended) users are beyond dumb about technology. The product is very slow, and the insult on top of this was $50 for “premium backup” upgrade, when this alone sells for $50 stand alone…upgrade should be max $20 from Instant.
    Memeo instant is on the right track, just missed. Better to back up ALL, error on that side for many users, especially with 1TB+ HDs. Or remove the bundled software and let “buyer beware”. The baords comments are 1yr ago, so…that’s bad too.

  11. LC says

    Well, I am really glad I found this – I only wished I had found it earlier or I would never have touched this piece of crap program.

    I figured since I had a new computer that wasn’t dual-boot or otherwise complicated I could get one of these basic one-touch backup disks and use it as my general sync back up (non-archive).

    My dad, who is 71, has one. He picked what files he wanted backed up, and syncs it once a week. Lovely. Perfect.

    So, since I like Seagate, I grabbed this. What a mistake. It’s still running continuously, even though I thought it should download once and then re-sync. It may take 30-40 hours, who knows. I’ve got about 250 gig on here and its at the 11% mark after about 20 hours.

    I can’t pick what to sync. It won’t do program files. I can’t set it to backup on a schedule that’s useful for me. I suspect that if it EVER tells me it is done, I could just unplug it and plug it in once a week as back up.

    IT certainly seems it doesn’t do any kind of “store previous versions” so it really only works as a mirror of what’s in your non-program drives. Of course, I can’t tell if it is finding things in other accounts or not.

    It’s clearly a product designed to prey on people who know they are supposed to back up and don’t know how. Sad. I expect lots of people to eventually lose important data because of this shoddy program.

    So, can anyone recommend a good basic program that I can use this otherwise perfectly acceptable drive as a backup solution with?

    • Sallie says

      For brain-dead-simple continuous backup of your complete drive, go with Rebit. For simple file copy, I’m still using Karen’s Replicator.

  12. Mike says

    Sallie, it’s also worth calling out that Memeo Instant Backup does *not* backup hidden files. At all. They apparently assume hidden and system files are the same (since they do say in their info page that they don’t backup system files, but don’t mention the hidden gap.)

    This makes Memeo Instant Backup useless for backing up photos you’ve edited with Picasa – which keeps all your edits and originals in hidden files and folders. And since Picasa doesn’t verify its backups automatically, as I found out the hard way, you need something else to back it up. Picasa is one of those programs my mother uses too.

    As a Picasa user, I was impressed with FBackup and their free plugins, including one for Picasa. Just recovered my backup on a new computer, installed my programs, and things just worked. Although FBackup’s doesn’t offer the same continuous backup as Memeo, I’d rather have “scheduled and works”, vs Memeo continously missing critical data.

    Also, someone apparently working for Memeo said on their forum in 2008 that they’d add hidden file support in a couple of months. If you buy a Seagate drive at Walmart this back to school 2011 season, and update the Memeo software to latest verion, it still won’t backup your hidden files. It’s a really dangerous program, still, in 2011. http://forum.memeo.com/viewtopic.php?t=3146&sid=9dc3cd2c3105b96c5a14829fae4cbc58

  13. RayeAnn says

    I just purchased Seagate’s GoFlex Home, and its backup software is Memeo Instant Backup. During installation, I actually read the license agreement and noted that it granted Memeo a non-royalty, unrestriced license to use and modify all content including backup content. No problem, I thought, I’ll just encrypt all my files. Interestingly, Memeo Backup will not handle encrypted files. I think that means that by using Memeo, I give them access to all of my files, information, photos, etc. FOR FREE. Do you have information or comments?

    • Sallie says

      Hmm. It sounds like that’s exactly what they’re saying, though one begins to wonder from whom they copied their license agreement. (Facebook?) It’s hard to imagine the circumstance under which they would have a legitimate reason to modify or use that content.

  14. Brian says

    Is there some way to stop this thing from continuously backing up in the background? I really don’t have anything so important that every file needs to be backed up every minute. Can I set this thing to run every morning at 3 am or something? It is driving me nuts.

    • Sallie says

      I haven’t used the program for years, so I’m not sure, but backup tools seem to come in either the continuous or the scheduled flavor. If you can’t find settings that allow you to set a particular time for backups, then you probably need a different program.

  15. Richard says

    Memeo Instant Backup only backed up the user files for my account, not for the other user accounts on my Windows 7 system. Are the other users expected to log in and run their own backup?

  16. Edward says

    Maybe someone can help me here… I installed the trial version since it came with my new Seagate drive. Software SAYS it will back up to network drive so I hooked my new Seagate up to my desktop computer and shared it… mapped it to my laptop and loaded Memeo on to my laptop FROM the shared drive (so I know the connection is fine). I can copy files TO my network share, but if I try to use Memeo to back up files it will not let me choose any network drives. Only drives listed in the drop down box are my D (restore partition)and Q (which appears to be my usb for my wireless mouse). No shared drives are even available. How does one get Memeo to recognize drives that Windows has no problem recognizing? (Windows Vista Home Premium SP 2 on the laptop, if that matters)

    • Jim says

      A little late for Edward, but this might help someone else. I guess the first time I started up Instant Backup the Seagate folders were not mapped as network drives. Once mapped, I had to go down to the icon tray and quit out of the Instant Backup background process. After a warning that it would re-initialize after it shutdown, I verified that I wanted to shut down. When I brought it back up, it re-initialized and detected the Seagate network drive.

  17. Diane says

    OMG I wish I had read this before I started this thing. It has been running for two days now and seems to have gotten through all the files once, but is now stuck on the “verifying” step. It pops up messages about the drive not being “available” (which it is) and I have to manually skip over files, looks like I will end up cancelling the backup. Still don’t know if I really have created a usable backup, after reading what other folks have written here.
    Can I still use this hardware without using the Memeo software or should I take the drive back where I got it?
    I did have the regular Windows backup run and it completed successfully.
    I cannot live without the Program Files being backed up. That is a huge flaw, as I am a tax practitioner and my tax client files are stored in the same folder within Program Files as the program is! I worked as a technical software support thing before retirement. I find this is just pitiful.

  18. Mat says

    What a disgrace memeo instant backup is… I got it bundled with a Seagate external drive, and made the mistake of installing it. First, I hate it when a program tries to limit as much as possible the clickable functions. Memeo is like that, you can almost only click on “backup” or “restore”. You can’t program or adjust anything. Second, it’s very slow, and there’s no way of actually seeing what it does or did. 5 days to backup 500,000 files is totally ridiculous on a fast system like mine. 5 days!! 24 hours a day! And to top everything off, when my computer died and I plugged the external drive to my laptop to retrieve the files, Memeo didn’t find anything, and then again, no way of going further than the screen telling you it didn’t find anything. No way to browse the disk and worst, if it does find anything, no way to restore specific files instead of the whole sheebang.

    It’s atotally useless program. Worst, it’s dangerous because it will give you a sense of security when in fact,it doesn’t work.

  19. says

    You said Memeo Instant Backup doesn’t backup Outlook, but I am looking at the Memeo Instant Backup screena dn it says:
    Backup in Progress
    Backing UP: Outlook.pst (4.6 GB)(78%)KI am running V Does this version include a provision ofor backing up Outlook files?

  20. says

    I am somewhat of a power user running Windows 7 Pro, savvy in managing PCs. Am I better off using Seagate Manager rather than Memeo Instant Backup for backing up Outlook as well as certain data files within Program directories? For that matter, how about Windows Backup?

    • Sallie says

      Windows 7 backup is actually pretty good. I haven’t tried Seagate Manager, and as I’ve said elsewhere in the comments, I haven’t tried the most recent version of Memeo.

  21. Tanya says

    Hi Barry,

    This review is from 2009. If you look through the comments, it appears Memeo added support for backing up Outlook pst files shortly thereafter.

    however I am concerned about a lot of other issues raised in the comments.

  22. David Collard says

    Memeo is useless. The only file I REALLY need to backup is my Outlook pst file and Memeo refuses to back this up.

  23. Karen says

    I also wish I had seen this dialogue first. I bought a Seagate 3TB ext.drive for backups. Windows Backup (scheduled or immediate)doesn’t work with this drive. I can drag & drop the user files, but that’s only a small portion of what’s on my C: drive. Plus I received several error messages during the d&d process about files in use or that couldn’t be found. So I installed Memeo. I just want a complete back-up I can set up once and forget (but trust!) so I sure hope I haven’t wasted my time installing Memeo. Stay tuned…….

  24. Karen says

    One further note: I am worried about the fact that 2 separate Memo reps were involved at the start of this forum, but are now nowhere to be found???

    • Sallie says

      Well, I wrote this post HOW many years ago? The people I spoke to originally are probably long gone.

  25. Bob says

    I noticed here that one of the things a few folks don’t like is the fact that it doesn’t back up Outlook.Pst in “Documents and Settings\User Name\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Outlook”
    May years ago I moved my default .PST file directly to my DOCUMENTS folder in an OUTLOOK subfolder and told OUTLOOK to use this PST file as my personal folder. Since everything in my DOCUMENTS folder is backed up my mail PST file is backup up as well.

  26. Clive says

    I’m running v on a 2012 vintage XP pro machine and for me at least, it still does not back up .pst files whick hang the programme in the ‘pending’ state during backup. Several emails to support yielded no results.
    A curious workaround I discovered is to hand pick the user files to exclude the pst file for the logged in user and back up the pst files for the other users. The limitation is that user a has to periodically log in to update backups for user b and vice-versa. As a result I’m scared to update to the latest version and would never buy this product again even though admittedly it is a painless way to back up picture albums and other essential doc files. Seagate should partner with someone who knows their stuff.

  27. Brian says

    “No backup plan found” error fix
    If you have created a backup using Memeo backup on one computer and want to restore the backup on another computer, you have to create a user account name on the second computer matching the user account name from the first compute. This only works with the same operating systems. So if computer A is running XP computer B needs to be running XP.

  28. pat says

    Memeo Instant Backup
    I found this to be difficult to use and pretty much useless for what I wanted. I just wanted a simple back-up for my computer, it ended up causing me to waste a lot of time as it’s not simple and certainly not easy to use. I’m not a computer nerd, nor am I mentally retarded, it’s just difficult and confusing to use. Most of the help files are very limited and tend to assume that the product is “easy to use”. I had to contact the tech support for my first question (which got answered promptly). Of course that just led to another problem and I don’t have a lot of free time so I gave up and just didn’t use it anymore. I also realised that Instant Backup doesn’t delete/purge files (that it backed up previously if you delete them from your computer, so over time you get a whole lot of junk on the back-up drive that presumably you would have to sort through if you needed to restore after a drive failure. This in itself is a good reason not to use this product.

  29. Phil Coady says


    I have a problem with Memeo Backup Premium….when I want to create a backup plan using the local folders selection, the programme freezes every time. Plese advise.

  30. Dallas says

    Memeo Instant Backup has been a complete waste of my time. I manage a nationwide network and I’m familiar with backup software and procedures. 1. This doesn’t recognize that there are other drives present. 2. Drag and Drop from the other drives does not work. It doesn’t allow selection of files to be backed up or allow any kind of criteria set for a backup plan. I’m uninstalling this software, reformatting the backup drive, and I’ll be using another, more reliable application.

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