Backup? What backup?
We all know why we need to back up. If you use your computer as much as I do, then you’re constantly creating, modifying and collating new files; your hard drive swelling by the minute. Ensuring that your backups are current and comprehensive is an arduous job, often complicated by the fact that most people have small hard drives on their machines.
Thankfully, some products aim to ease this task. One of them is Backup and Recovery Home 14, by German software titan Paragon. The tool runs on Windows 2000 through Windows 8.1 and offers an comprehensive approach, from backing up your files to your entire system. Earlier versions have received glowing reviews, and the latest version impresses with a number of killer backup and restore utilities for the low price of $40.
But is it any good? I gave it a spin.
I installed Paragon on a wheezy, Lenovo crap-top from yesteryear, rocking an anemic AMD Vision processor, a solid state drive and a fully up-to-date install of Windows 7. This isn’t a powerhouse, but it still managed to run it without any perceptible slowdown.
Installing it was as simple as installing any Windows application, although I was prompted to install a couple of dependencies at the start. After 10 minutes, Paragon Backup and Recovery 14 was sitting pretty on my hard drive.
Yeah, the landing page inexplicably takes a page or two from the Windows 8 aesthetic. However, this veneer of Metro-ness was removed after entering the guts of the application, upon which we are greeted with something which looks a bit more familiar.
Although not advertised in the name, Paragon Backup and Recovery can check the file system for imperfections and flaws. This is handy, as it gives you a heads-up as to if your HDD / SSD is on the fritz, effectively warning you of impending data loss.
I decided to give this a try, running both a surface test which looks for bad sectors, as well as a file-system scan.
This required a restart, upon which my computer booted up into a slightly scary looking program. This informed me of the progress of the scans I was running, as well as if there were any issues with my drive (there weren’t). One slight complaint was that the estimated time of completion wasn’t accurate. It said that each scan would take around 30 minutes, but took significantly longer, resulting in me eventually leaving my computer running overnight and going to bed.
If you’re planning to use Paragon to check on the health of your hard drive, you’d be advised to do so when you’re not planning to be productive.
One of the main features advertised by Paragon is the ability to back up files, folders and your entire hard drive. In addition, you can also back up emails retained locally on your computer. I decided to create a backup archive of my Documents folder. This was a relatively simple process; I selected the type of backup required, the folder I wanted to back up and the place where I wished to store my backup.
It’s worth noting that the tool offers a plenty of backup options, including ‘Smart Backup’, ‘Differential Backup’, ‘Incremental Backup’ and ‘Synthetic Backup’. It’s not immediately obvious what each one of these is, and they aren’t fully explained. However, this is a design complaint, not a functionality one.
Backups can be scheduled, and also scripted, allowing you to handle backups and restorations without any stress.
The process of creating a backup was a little bit slow, given that I was running a SSD in peak health and given that my Windows computer isn’t my main machine, the Documents folder isn’t especially full. Despite this, the backup was created accurately, and was restored with a minimum of fuss. Which brings us onto our next point – restorations.
Once I created my archive, I decided to restore it. This was stored in a pre-defined location in my Documents folder, and when I visited it with the file explorer, I was unable to directly open it.
Instead, I had to open it with Paragon. Restoring backups was a simple, relatively quick process (especially in comparison to creating the initial backup). It uses a wizard, which presents each archive chronologically in a list, and you are able to select which one you wish to restore. You can also decide what files and folders you wish to restore.
After that, it’s a simple matter of pressing ‘Next’ a few times until your files have successfully been restored.
I really like Paragon Backup and Recovery Home 14.
Sure, it has its fair share of warts, including some incomprehensible design choices and inaccurate ETAs. But it does handle backing up and restoring files perfectly, and for that it ought to be commended.
Give it a go and let me know how you find it in the comments below!