My Quest for the Perfect Backup Software

Backup Software

I want to tell you about some software for Windows I found. I actually discovered this while trying to find a good backup solution for my own personal setup, but ended up using it for clients once I knew how powerful it is.


What I was looking to do was:

  • Have a local in-house copy of the data I want to backup. This would simply be copying the files from my personal desktop to my home server.
  • Have an offsite “cloud” copy should there be fire of theft. I wanted the files to be encrypted client-side so even the cloud service cannot read it. I love the cloud but don’t trust it fully yet. I would also like the Cloud service to be on a pay-per-usage rate rather than a fixed amount per month or year.
  • Have an offline “separated” copy by burning it to a DVD or Blu-ray in case my network is compromised. If a hacker was to gain access to my network somehow. They could delete the digital copies stored on my personal PC, my home server and even the copies uploaded to cloud. So an offline “detached” copy is needed.

Problems:

  • Generally when you encrypt client side (using something like Truecrypt for example), you would put all the files in a folder, encrypt the whole folder which results in a single large encrypted file. The problem with this setup is if a single file in that folder changed after uploading it to the cloud, you would need to re-upload the whole encrypted backup again. This would be very time and bandwidth consuming.
  • Burning data to DVDs and BluRays can be a real pain. You need to separate the files into chunks that will fit onto the optical media, open the burning program, select the files, put a disc in, wait for it to complete, insert a new disc and do this repeatedly.

The Solution:

After much searching and testing, SyncBack Pro was the winner by a long shot.

SyncBack Pro is powerful backup software with almost every feature you can dream of. It really makes other backup software look like a Fisher Price toy. That’s not to say that it is difficult to use though. It has a simple mode which can walk you through step by step as well as an advanced mode for us technicians.
SyncBackPro solved all the above problems for me.

To solve the large encryption file problem. I set it to actually encrypt every single file by compressing them as passworded zips. Now, typically old style zip file encryption is fairly weak. This application allows you to encrypt them with 256bit AES encryption.

If a single file in the backup folder changes, it will encrypt just that file and upload it to the cloud rather than having to re-encrypt and re-upload the big backup.
To solve the DVD/Blu-Ray burning problem, SyncBackPro can break the backup into pre-defined chunks (so you could set it to 4.7gig for DVDs or 25-50gig for Blu Rays). It will burn the data to the disc and eject the CD.

(Edit based on comments: Detached copies could also be done with an external hard drive and would be a better choice if you had lots of information. The downside is you are vulnerable if single hard drive failed. I didnt have a massive amount of data to backup and having multiple, incremental, read only “snapshots in time” detached copies not relying on a single hard drive was important to me)

My home server is headless so if I see the CD tray open, I just chuck another disc in and let it do its thing. It is as automated as it can be without having a auto CD reloader.
The thing is, I am only using a tiny percentage of what this application is capable of. Here is just a small list of some of the features.

  • Copy locked or open files
  • Processes an unlimited number of files
  • Fast Backup and Smart Synchronization
  • Versioning (keep previous backup versions)
  • Incremental Backups
  • Amazon S3 and Google Storage support
  • Microsoft Azure support
  • Backup of emails stored on a POP3/IMAP4 server
  • Notification about profiles runs, creation, etc.
  • New script functions, calls, and example scripts
  • Powerful FTP engine & AES encryption
  • Automatic scheduling
  • Generous Licensing Policy
  • Extensive Help Documentation

Here is a screenshot of SyncBackPro in expert mode with its option tree expanded. Each page has a wealth of features so you really can make it do exactly what you want.
SyncBackPro Options List Expanded
Incredibly, you can even make it speak a custom string of text if something like a backup error occurs. This really has all the fittings.

SyncBackPro comes with a 30 day trial so there really is no risk and it sells for $54.95 USD. It has very quickly turned into one of my best business purchases in recent months.

Basically, If your current solution doesn’t do exactly what you want, definitely check out SyncBackPro. Here is a direct download link for the trial if you would like to try it out yourself.



Bryce Whitty

About the Author

Bryce Whitty
More articles by me...
Bryce is an Australian computer technician and the founder of Technibble. He started his computer repair business when he was 17 years old and is still running it 9 years later. He is an avid traveller and spends at least a month of the year in another country.

Comments (21)

  • The Nomad Soul says:

    I don’t know, have you used in the field yet? I used too until I ran into far too many issues with it not backing up files and saying they were locked when they weren’t and rather than just continuing to the next file in the backup set it would just cancel the whole backup. Maybe it’s better than it used to be. The interface is overly convoluted as well, yes it has every option you can think of but it’s hard to do the most basic tasks. Again this is based on past experience, maybe it’s better.

    I’m also not sure why you would still back up to dvd’s, just get an external and do a manual backup. You don’t have to worry about splitting files or faulty media and you can just encrypt the drive.

    • Bryce Whitty says:

      Im running version 6.2, so I dont know what has changed since you used it. I have used it in the field and haven’t encountered what you are talking about.

      They have a simple mode now, I’m not sure if your version had it but that is pretty straight forward. Just set up, where from, where to and when. If someone only needs to do simple tasks then there are many other easier options to use. I liked this because when you needed more features than Carbonite or Mozy, this had it.

      As for the DVD’s, it was also about having multiple incremental backups. “Snapshots” in time. I know this can be done with a single external hard drive but you have a single point of failure. I know you can get multiple external hard drives, but its lots swapping around at a greater cost. I liked the detached snapshots where the older stuff couldnt be infected/deleted etc..
      As you said, I am at the risk of faulty media but by having multiple and incremental copies, it isnt too bad if a single disc doesnt work since the one before it and after it will most likely work.

      Good point though, if I had lots of data I would be more likely to use multiple externals (though it gets pricey).

  • Peter Trinh says:

    Your article about backups couldn’t have arrived at a more fitting time, I have been thinking about this subject today! What got my ears burning was the cloud storage options of SyncBackPro. Have you utilized that feature much? I am curious to know how well this works and which of the three supported cloud storage services you favored. I used SyncBackPro 4 when I was managing backups for a hospital system’s two data centers, and it was vastly superior for reliable backups and restores to some of the older standbys that were being used before My time there.

    • Bryce Whitty says:

      Cobian is great, its what I actually what I used before SyncBackPro. Cobian wasnt doing exactly what I needed it to do (I was hodge-podging a handful of applications together including Cobian. I found Cobian too unreliable over long periods of time.

  • Nathan says:

    I started using setup for myself a few months ago. I use Syncback Pro in conjunction with Amazon S3 service. I incorporate client side encryption, prior to uploading to Amazon S3. Currently, Amazon has a free tier for new customers (5 gigs of storage, etc) for a year, and I am only paying $0.32 USD per month for 7 gigabytes of storage. After the free trial period, that will jump up to around $2.00 USD per month.

    Here are some things to consider:

    The one caveat with encryption and Syncback,it appears that Synback is needed to decrypt the files. Maybe Bryce can correct me, if I am wrong. I sure would hate it if Syncback went out of business or program quits working, and I can’t decrypt my files. Bryce, can you provide more insight to this?

    Also, make sure you look at pricing structure prior to signing up with Amazon S3. It looks convaluting and daunting, but it makes sense after looking at it. Not only do you pay for storage, you also pay data transfer out, GET requests, and PUT, LIST, etc requests. Syncback Pro (in my setup) has to perform a lot GET requests, in order to see if any files changed from source to destination each time it runs a backup. You may be thinking…wow, that could cost a lot. Yes, the initial back up will cost higher. Look at it this way…my $0.32 last month included 7 gigabytes of storage, 24,000 GET requests and 8,000 PUT requests. I believe this months bill will be around $1.50 for 15 gigabytes of total storage. I also take HDD off-site, so I won’t run backups to Amazon S3 constantly (to keep costs down).

    Could I potentially pay more for cloud backup with Amazon S3 than with traditional cloud backup (Mozy, Carbonite etc)? Sure and most likely I will, but there are a lot of benefits that outweigh costs. I could go into more detail, but typing with an iPad is getting old (can’t wait to get my Surface Pro…lol). Maybe I can type up a little article of my experience and give to Bryce to post. Until then, everyone have a great day.

  • Karlin High says:

    Can it do a drive-image backup like Clonezilla or Acronis? Suppose I come in one morning and a hard drive is doing the click-of-death; would I need to install Windows and programs on the new drive, or just restore a backup image? I looked around their website a little but didn’t see anything about this feature.

  • Matt D. says:

    Another good article Bryce! Does anyone participate in their Affiliate Program (http://www.2brightsparks.com/affiliates/index.html)? One BIG issue I have always looked for in backup programs is their ease of restore. Many backup programs are great at backing up, but when it comes to restoring the data they fall horribly short. A backup program is only as good as its restore capabilities!!

  • Blake says:

    May be ok operationally, but do check out the negative reviews at CNet: http://download.cnet.com/SyncBackPro/3000-2242_4-75185434.html

    • Bryce Whitty says:

      2 negative reviews at CNet:
      First one said their license key got banned. 2BrightSparks responded saying that the CNet review showed up the same day the support request showed up. They asked for support information which they didnt get so in the end they just refunded their money.

      The second one was Paypal issues. They got flagged as fraud by their system (the person used multiple accounts quickly). They guy is claiming that 2BrightSparks “sucks all infos of your Paypal accounts” which is really just a preapproval before you press Buy (heaps of companies do this). Took a bit of email back and forth which is the only thing I can fault them for in that complaint.

      Rest were excellent reviews.

  • pet peeve says:

    HI Bruce,

    Thanks for the review. I have had bad luck with data recovery when encryption is used. I generally recommend clients do not use encryption unless absolutely paranoid about someone getting their data. Granted a good backup will prevent the need for data recovery but if it ever is the case then encryption complicates things. The drives that I do data recovery on which have encryption, I charge double across the board. It is a PITA.

    • Nathan says:

      In reference to data encryption, I encrypt my data via Syncback Pro to Amazon S3. There should be no issue recovering from Amazon S3. Unless you are data recovery on Amazon hard drives (highly unlikely), it would be wise to encrypt the data. Encryption of data to be back-upped to local storage probably is not necessary, to coincide with your argument.

  • gabak says:

    one of the best options for FREE is cobian.
    it works great.

    • Bryce Whitty says:

      I mentioned this in an above comment, Cobian is great and it was what I was using before SyncBackPro. If you (or your client) are short of money, Cobian is a great option (though not as powerful as SyncBackPro). I did find it unreliable over long periods of time. For example, if it has an update it would stop working on my setup until I updated (resulting in many backups that didnt happen).

  • Sally kreiln says:

    I love how Bruce keeps trying to sell his preferred vendor since he gets a commission out of it, completely a sellout,

    • bobbyc says:

      And what would you suggest the community use? Please add something to the conversation.

    • Danno says:

      Yes Sally please, what do you recommend? I am open to listening to any and all options. Thanks Bryce I appreciate the info, comes at a really good time. Has anybody used the GFI Backup solution? Thinking about signing a client up for GFI but it seems pricey.

    • Mike Wilson says:

      So Bryce lets you come here for free and you have a problem with him trying to pay the costs to run the website? I have seen enough of Bryce’s posts here and in the forums to see that he knows exactly what he is talking about. He would not say a product was good unless it really was. Do you work for free Sally? What is it that he said the product can do that it can not do? All you offer is criticism with ZERO details to back it up!

  • Stephen odell says:

    I wonder Dose Bryce Still use Fabs I bought it because i see it here on tech nibble??!!

    • Bryce Whitty says:

      I use both as they do different tasks.
      Fabs is more for data and settings backup and restore. For example, if I was formatting a clients computer or they were upgrading it. Fabs moves over things like Email settings, favorites etc.. This is usually a “before you format” once off job.
      SyncBack is more for having essential data somewhere else and to backup regularly on an ongoing basis.

  • Adam says:

    Anyone tried fab’s autobackup4? I ink I found out about it through technibble. Anyway, it’s super easy, reliable, and fast relative to the machine. Oh and it’s portable and offer’s lifetime, transferable licenses.