Once in a while when I test a backup product for this Reminder, I get anomalous results. The anomaly usually takes the form of bizarrely slow performance. The causes are hard to pinpoint, but my chief suspect is conflicts with existing backup software, especially those that support open and locked files, or with some other background program. I seem to have an inordinately large number of programs and processes running in the background at any given time, from Skype to SyncBack.
Back in May when my BFF Jay Pechek gave me the Buffalo LinkStation Mini and the MiniStation DataVault, both drives came with Memeo AutoBackup.
Memeo is the kind of company you want to like. Its history is rather like that of Spare Backup. According to the bio provided to me by Memeo’s helpful PR representative in response to my July request on HARO, Memeo CEO and Co-founder Hong Bui was inspired to develop backup software because of a particularly egregious data loss experience:
“A TSA guard at the airport dropped Bui’s laptop as he went through the security checkpoint. It fell apart and he lost everything. As a passionate software developer, Bui immediately wanted to solve the problem of media management and identified three use cases that encompass the digital life: backup, sync and share. As we continue our transition to an entirely digital world, Bui is leading the development of products that allow people to make this jump seamlessly by protecting content, syncing it to multiple locations for ease of use and seamlessly sharing media with friends and family.”
Despite being a geek himself, Bui managed to create a product that’s easy to install and easy to use. I’m pretty sure Memeo is the only backup program I’ve used that specifically backs up to an iPod. It also lets you keep more than one version of a file, something that my main file backup tools, Karen’s Replicator and SyncBack Freeware, don’t. (Ooh. I just noticed there’s a new version of Replicator. Pardon me a minute while I download and install it…)
Since there was no need to duplicate any of the backups I already had in place, I set up a backup of my D drive (the second internal hard drive, which acts as a first backup for my client data) to the new network drive.
And had one of those anomalous experiences. It took five days to back up somewhere under 80 GB of data—and that’s five days of leaving the computer running all night. And though subsequent backups (performed when data is updated, as well as on start-up) were much faster, that seemed unreasonable.
Since I hate writing negative reviews, I was hesitant to talk about this. Besides, I was waiting to hear from the Memeo support team, but nothing developed until recently. In fact, I had just about decided to uninstall Memeo, which I was no longer using (it seemed to interfere with performance if I left it running). But a week or so ago the abovementioned helpful PR person connected me with an equally helpful Memeo support person, who asked me to send him the log files and recommended that I download the newest version of Memeo. Apparently the development team has nicknamed it “AutoBackup Accelerator” because it’s twice as fast as the version that shipped in May.
Installing the new version of AutoBackup was simple. Setting up my new test backup plan was a bit more challenging. Memeo’s backup configuration wizard automatically excludes external hard drives as sources for files to back up. Without the exclusions, Memeo’s “Smart backup” by file type could create a real mess: imagine what would happen if you tried to back up your source and destination drives simultaneously.
But I wanted to back up a USB drive, and not just to be difficult. When I start up my computer, Replicator copies all the files that have changed since the last startup to the F drive (the Seagate FreeAgent Go drive, now named Freya). But an external hard drive can fail just as easily as an internal hard drive, and I wanted to be sure that all the data on Freya got backed up to the Buffalo LinkStation Mini (Lachesis, because it’s mapped to drive letter “L”). It turned out that I not only had to remove the F drive from the exclusion list in the new backup plan I was creating, but to remove it from the older backup plans. I ended up deleting the older backup plans.
This time I was backing up slightly more data—about 93 GB instead of 70-some. And instead of being copied from my internal hard drive, the data had to move through the USB cable from Freya through my laptop’s CPU and then through the network onto the NAS drive. I assumed that would slow things down a bit, and that the average user backing up her C drive to a USB 2.0 hi-speed drive would get a faster backup time.
Nevertheless, the current version of Memeo lived up to its promise of being twice as fast. The initial backup required only three days, and that only during working hours, since I didn’t leave the computer running overnight. Memeo seemed quite happy to have me shut down in the middle of the backup without having to start over at the beginning when I rebooted.
I’ve decided not only to continue using Memeo, but to leave it set to start up when Windows does, which it does by default. The idea behind having Memeo start with Windows and run in the background is to provide continuous data protection. Since the data on Freya only changes when Replicator runs (or when I manually copy a file to it), there’s no real need to have Memeo running in the background all day. I let it start up and update the backup (it doesn’t seem to cause any problems with the function of Replicator, which also runs at startup), and then shut it down.
And while this is not quite what the AutoBackup team had in mind when they designed the program, it’s working just fine.
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