In the course of investigating Memeo for last week’s Backup Reminder, I discovered I had a problem. I’d been using Memeo to back up my F drive, Freya (a Seagate FreeAgent Go USB drive) to my L drive, Lachesis (a Buffalo LinkStation Mini). However, I was not letting Memeo run in the background, because I had previously had problems with that. Memeo sends out little warnings if you turn its background agent off, but I never paid much attention. What with needing to see whether my version of Memeo would back up from a network drive, however, I opened it up, checked it out, and thought maybe I should investigate the state of the backups.
I discovered that there were some recent files—and whole folders—that had not been backed up. This puzzled me, so I ran the backup verification to update things, but somehow it didn’t seem to work. I tried deleting that backup routine and re-creating it, yet still, the size of the backup didn’t match the size of the directories I was backing up.
Baffled, I decided to try setting up the backup job in Titan Backup instead. This time all the files got copied—except a few that were corrupt. But it took a long time. And it still takes a long time every morning, even though there aren’t that many new files on the F drive.
In the midst of all this, I got a message headlined “Important Information about Titan Backup.”
Dear Titan Backup user,
We would like to inform you of some important changes to Titan Backup.
GFI Software has been working with Titan for some time and has made significant investments in the technology, which it has now re-launched under GFI. GFI will continue making major investments in this technology.
We would like to inform you that GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition has now been launched. This version is being offered as full-featured FREEWARE for PC home users.
GFI Backup has retained all the functionality you are accustomed to in Titan Backup and also includes additional feature and improvements*. We invite you to try out GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition, which you can download from: http://www.gfi.com/backup-hm.
Please note that you cannot back up with the Titan Backup version and restore with the GFI version. Also, you cannot import your settings from Titan Backup to GFI Backup, as there have been major changes to the configuration file formats.
You therefore need to install GFI Backup and reconfigure, as follows: Download and use GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition, and run a new back up of your existing files, re-creating your backup and synchronization tasks as needed. We highly recommend this option.
“Well!” I thought to myself. “Something is definitely going on here.” So I downloaded GFI Backup 2009, but also decided to ask Flavius Saracut, my contact at Titan/Neobyte, what was up.
Flavius explained that GFI had been working with Titan for some time and made “significant investments in the technology,” and then pretty much recapitulated the information I’d already received from the sales team. I pressed him for more details. First, why make a previously paid product available for free?
At GFI Software, we believe that in hard economic times, vendors should work both with their channel partners and companies in general to assist them in sustaining their business until the economy bounces back. Apart from ensuring that we offer the best pricing possible to benefit small and medium-sized businesses, without scrimping on product quality and performance, we are also launching a number of initiatives to do something TANGIBLE to help.
As part of this, we have launched a We Care program and our first initiatives include:
That’s a laudable motive—even though I’d guess that neither product was a big money-maker in the first place. I’m always in favor of good, free tools.
My second question was about the differences between the two products. Despite the name change, the interfaces proved pretty much identical:
Flavius kindly listed the following improved features in GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition:
No need to be logged on to the machine for the backups to take place
Improved memory management
Improved logging mechanism, status product messaging and task view
On-demand check for product updates from GFI
Support for Windows 7 RC build 7100
Enhanced execution speed for tasks that include many files
Single plug-in restore options
Internationalization support for custom time and date formats.
So I set up the identical backup job and compared the two jobs. Interestingly, GFI objected to a few files on the F drive that Titan had not. And while it appeared to be slightly faster at completing the initial backup, the later incremental backups actually appeared to be slower than they were with Titan.
GFI Backup 2009 is easy to use and fairly versatile. It has a good feature set for a free product. But it doesn’t seem to be ideal for copying data from an external USB drive onto a NAS drive, for some reason. I’m not sure what the bottleneck is there, but its search for changed files seems slower than those performed by Karen’s Replicator and SyncBack and by Memeo. I much suspect that after the reinstall (which the Ur-Guru, who arrives for his annual visit today, has promised to help me with), I will go back to using Memeo to back up the F drive.
Nevertheless, GFI has some features I really like, and its speed is considerably better when copying from an internal to an external drive. For one thing, it handles both backup and sync. It also lets you do either incremental, differential, or “stacked” backups (the last take up both the most time and the most space, but save several complete versions of all your files). You can compress or encrypt your backups (either or both). And you can schedule the backup to run on Windows shutdown instead of Windows startup. This is a much more logical time to back up your machine, and also less likely to fill you with impatience while you wait for your backups to finish so you can actually start using your computer.
So if you’re looking for a good free file backup tool, check it out.