Backup, backup, backup. Three words (okay, one word) that is repeatedly drummed into each and every one of our apparently inferior minds whenever we hear a horror story of government officials losing thousands of important documents, or a flood striking an unprepared office full of servers. It’s not just grand offices that need to backup their data though, it turns out. It is in fact each and every one of us that needs to keep our precious documents, however small, stashed somewhere safe and out of sight and reach of children and nasty, malicious people who make nasty, malicious software.
For this reason, there’s no shortage of backup solutions out there, and today I have in front of me the offering from Magix, one of the leading developers of multimedia software such as Website Maker 5, doing something really important for once.
Setting you back £39.99, it’s certainly not the most expensive backup solution out there, nor is it the cheapest. It’s pretty much average, but as history will happily remind us, that need not mean it’s an average piece of kit.
One of the key ingredients to a good piece of software is a good interface design, as we all know. And it’s even more important here. The worst thing that could happen would be while you’re desperately trying to figure out how to backup your data, you get so stressed out you spit your coffee all over your laptop in anger, and destroy your data in an event that could only be described as historically ironic, but tragic nonetheless.
So how does this software fare on that front? Well, from what you see at startup, pretty, well… average, really. There’s an enormous ‘ACTIVATE’ button that only a referee could miss on the right hand side, just underneath a creepy looking orb logo signifying the ‘inactive’ status of the app. To the left, there’s the important stuff. The progress bar, and details of the drive to be backed up and the target drive. Underneath that, there’s some little timers to let you know how long it’s been since your last backup, your first backup, and when your backup is scheduled.
Along the top there’s an obscenely large navigation menu to take you from this default window of automatic backup, to a manual backup which is really just there to let you choose the drives yourself; the critical restore pane which is a simple view to let you drag backed up items back to your primary drive; an online backup section which requires you to login with your Magix address they force upon you during installation, and then the additional features for more power.
Obviously with the options of selecting different drives and adding on top of that the ‘data shredder’ feature amongst others that we’ll see later on, this isn’t an especially basic backup solution. Nor is it the most complex, but what it achieves complete mediocrity in in terms of features and design, it makes up for quite admirably in how it performs during backup.
Backup was reasonably fast for a 5400rpm 320GB drive to a 1TB external drive of the same speed, and the automatic backup feature worked a charm first time of asking when detecting both drives. All I had to do was click ‘ACTIVATE’, and my data was safe.
Of course they always tell you to take your backup away from the building you’re in, and there is an option for this. A suitably modern option, commonly known as the ‘cloud’. Magix give you a meagre 500mb of backup space, so you may even want to consider doing a manual backup of these files from your drive to a service such as Dropbox, which will give you a 2GB plan for free.
The extra features I mentioned earlier do come in handy for various reasons. The first of which, ‘Create Rescue Medium’, allows you to create yourself a bootable rescue disc for your OS, in case of a huge catastrophe and you need to get everything back the way it was.
On top of that you have the ‘Data Shredder’, which will be useful if you’re wiping a hard drive that you don’t want ever to be traceable even in death.
Lastly, we have ‘Restore Files’ which allows you to bring back deceased Windows system files that you may have bumped off in a fit of anger at the OS. Or perhaps just accidentally.
If I were to place this in a band related to its quality, I’d have to say ‘Good’. Many aspects are pretty ordinary, and there’s nothing particularly exciting about it. But then data backup needn’t be exciting, it’s just one of life’s mundane necessities. And it IS a necessity, so if you want something simple and reliable that won’t break the bank, but offer a good set of features and a usable interface, then £40 for this really represents a good deal.