Before we started reviewing backup software, we identified a list of essential features for any quality backup program:
To this list of essential features we added these desirable features
All the short-listed products were downloaded from the vendor's web site and tested on our own office machines. Testing involved creating backups on the various supported media and then recovering the test data using the created backup sets.
After testing, we ended up with only 5 recommended products. This was disappointing particularly when the major reasons for exclusion were ease of use and CD-R support.
Backing up user data is not a complex task and with a well designed interface, should be an easy task, even for an inexperienced user.
It is totally inexcusable for a backup product to be difficult to use. Several were.
None of the programs, from the small and meek to the well known software giants, was great at backing up to CD-Rís. I can hear the gasps now, but itís true.
Also disappointing was the poor support for backup to CD-R. 'Poor' is defined as requiring second-party software in order to pre-format the blank CD-R(s) before use or a short list of supported drives.
A number of the contenders required Roxioís DirectCD, for pre-formatting the CD-Rís and writing. The documentation of this requirement and/or instructions for obtaining and installing the necessary software was generally poor and the end user always has to figure the added cost of that software into the buying decision, unless they already own it.
Other products came with their own CD-R drivers but these worked with only a limited range of CD drives. Worse still there was often poor documentation of what CD-R drives worked with the software.
The products that we ended up recommending were all relatively easy to use and offered acceptable solutions to the CD-R problem. I regret to say none of the products were ideal, each had one or more limitations either in ease of use or functionality. However all were capable of doing the job and collectively represent the best options currently available in the marketplace.