Why you should buy GRBackPro
by N. J. Stone B.Sc.
Director, Langfine Ltd.
I recently purchased a CD-rewriter
for use as a backup device. The supplied backup software was too inflexible so I set
about the task of choosing a new backup program. I compared several five-star shareware
programs and "Microsoft Windows Backup" as supplied with Windows
XP / 2000 / NT. My
criteria were suitability, reliability, ease of use, cost and level of support. My final
decision is to use the shareware program GRBackPro, by GRSoftware. This article explains
my choice and describes some of the features of GRBackPro.
Microsoft Windows Backup
As Microsoft Windows Backup is supplied free of charge with Windows
XP / 2000 / NT, this was the
first program I looked at. Its interface and configuration options are excellent. However,
it appears to have been written primarily with tape backup devices in mind. Indeed, at
first it completely refused to accept my CD-rewriter as a backup destination. The way
around this was to configure my CD-rewriter as a mounted volume. The main problem with the
tape backup approach is that the backup is stored as a single file. The contents of this
file cannot be viewed nor restored without use of Microsoft Windows Backup. Also, a full
backup involves writing a single huge file; a very time consuming operation. When this
file was too large to fit onto a single CD-RW, my system produced a bundle of error
messages which resulted in my cancelling the backup.
GRBackPro overcame these problems; it was designed with removable disc storage in mind
and is very happy with CD-RW as the backup destination. Its main advantage is that it
backs up by creating standard compressed zip files. The directory structure of the data to
backup is replicated on the backup CD-RW. The files in each original folder are then
stored in a zip archive file within the corresponding backup folder. Thus the backup files
can be viewed (or restored) by any zip file manager, such as WinZip (by WinZip Computing
Inc.) I consider this to be a huge advantage. If my files are backed up to zip files, then
I can retrieve them at another computer without the need for GRBackPro. Also, once the
initial full backup has been performed, I can keep this backup up to date by simply
refreshing individual zip files. This is faster, neater and more convenient than creating
separate files consisting of one "full" and several "incremental"
backups. When the data for backup proved too large for one CD-RW, I was prompted to insert
a fresh one; the backup then continued and was spread over two CD-RW's.
Other Software are missing ...
There are several excellent backup programs available as shareware. However, none of
them seemed to provide the power and ease of use of GRBackPro. This is very important. The
user must carefully ensure that the data for backup is correctly selected and that files
not required are omitted. Blind inclusion of every file on your computer will lead to
much larger and slower backups than are necessary. Typically, temporary files, temporary
Internet files, and the recycler should all be omitted. Also, backups stored on your hard
disk (e.g. .bak files.) GRBackPro provides powerful and very easy to use options to
facilitate this. Folders for backup are selected from an Explorer-like window. Files which
should or should not be backed up are selected by a variety of point and click options.
Many different backup "sessions" can be defined and stored for later re-use.
Each session consists of "jobs"; each job specifying which folder and subfolders
should be backed up, together with other options. The jobs can be run individually or one
after the other, as part of a session. The selections made for each job are clearly
displayed in a top level window which can be easily checked when starting a backup. Of
course, it takes some time to learn precisely which options are best for your own
scenario. The options that I have chosen provide a very convenient and quick way of
performing a daily backup.
Most backup programs store data in compressed format. GRBackPro provides an option to
specify the level of compression; 0-9. Level 9 provides the highest level of compression
but takes the longest to achieve. My tests showed that Level 9 produced better compression
than Microsoft Windows Backup. Personally, I always use this level; I am happy to make my
computer do extra work if it means that I have to insert fewer new CD-RW's! A
"Disable Compression - Force File Copy" option is also available to copy files
directly to the backup without compressing them into zip files.
Zip files can be password protected; this encrypts the backed up data so that it can
only be retrieved if the original password is known. I store my backup CD-RW media in an
unsecured location, so this option is very important. Of course, I must remember the
password I chose; don't use this option if you habitually lose passwords!
One important option missing in some shareware programs is the "Registry
Backup". The Registry is the depository in which Windows stores information about the
configuration of your system. Windows locks the relevant files whenever your computer is
running so they are not included in a normal backup job. GRBackPro provides an option to
The most important feature of any backup program is its reliability. There is little
point in performing backups if you cannot be sure of your data integrity! Once I was
convinced that GRBackPro provided the configuration options that I needed, I set about
testing it for correctness. I performed a variety of backups, both of my entire system and
just of selected folders. I ensured that some backups were spread over more then one
CD-RW. I produced zip files with and without password encryption. I also used the
"force file copy" option. I checked the backups by restoring them to an
alternate location on my hard disc (a useful additional option provided by GRBackPro.) I
then used FolderMatch to compare the restored data with the
original. This process first showed some configuration errors that I had made with
GRBackPro. This stressed the importance of understanding your backup software and your
chosen backup methods. In my case, I had selected my entire top level folders (and
subfolders) for backup but had omitted to select my root folder; so, the files in
"C:\" were forgotten! Once this was corrected, I re-ran my tests. All my data
was restored correctly without problem. Now that I have configured GRBackPro
appropriately, I have a very high level of confidence that my backed up data will save the
day - should I ever need it!
Perhaps my favorite feature of GRBackPro is its ability to shutdown my system once a
backup has completed. Once I have finished work, I close all programs and then kick off
the backup. I then leave my office in the knowledge that when the backup completes, my
computer will shut down and power off. The computer's energy consuming fan
is not left running all night! I adore this option! However, when I first tried it, I had
a problem. The computer did not power down. I e-mailed details to the makers of GRBackPro
- GRSoftware. A reply came the next day with the promise of an impending fix. A
few days later, I was using a corrected beta version of the program. This highlighted
another related issue, which again was remedied within a few days. It may seem strange to
mention faults in a program that I am recommending. However, the point I am making is that
GRSoftware provide a fantastic level of support. Even the largest software manufacturers
release products with bugs. I have e-mailed fault reports to these manufacturers but have
never received a reply, let alone a corrected program! My personal experience demonstrates
that GRSoftware provides truly excellent support. Also, GRSoftware have been around for a
few years and their web site gives the impression of a well-established company. I feel
confident that any future problems will be quickly resolved.
I now use GRBackPro as my main backup tool. I perform a full backup every month, and do
daily incremental backups. My system is large and the full backup is spread over eight
CD-RW's. I have two separate copies of the backup. GRBackPro provides me with the options
to easily, conveniently and quickly manage this. I have every confidence that my data is
secure. I am delighted with GRBackPro.
I have attempted to write this article in an unbiased and fair manner. However, for
legal reasons, I must make the usual disclaimer; I cannot be held responsible in any way,
for anything, to any body, for anything in this article.