A system crash is something that always happens to the other guy. Maybe that’s why the Idlebackup website starts with an assumption – less than 20% of computer users actually backup their data.
It may be just an off the cuff percentage, but the fact is that very few of us actually take the pain to backup our data to a safe place. In my opinion, backing up our files and documents ranks right up there with the other best practices of computer usage.
But as is human nature, accumulating files by the dozens is preferred over dodging the tedious job of data backup. Don’t we all put off such jobs for tomorrow?
It is only when Mr. Crash comes calling that we slap our foreheads and realize the value of caution over chance. All the hard work gone in a snafu’s moment. System crashes, hard disk failures and other computer mishaps are more common than we think and there’s a fair probability that one might strike us. When one strikes, we all wish we had a time machine to hop into and undo the moment. We can’t…but some simple software and simpler habits can ‘roll back’ time for us.
One such habit is that of periodic data backups. The tools are of course, the varied backup software.
Idlebackup (1.17Beta) is a small 633KB zipped download available as an installer and as a standalone executable file.
Idlebackup performs the job of backing up your files in a straightforward manner. Select the directories and files for data backup and point it to the location where the data should be backed up to (an internal or external drive, thumb drive or a network drive).
Here are some of it’s key features.
The ‘Idle’ Job
The first key feature of Idlebackup is in the word ‘idle’. The program’s name comes from its ability to perform automatic data backups when the computer is not in use. When automatic backup is checked, the program does a computer activity check. If no activity is detected, the computer goes into the backup mode following a countdown of 60 seconds. After the backup is made, the interval time starts again.
If a backup job is interrupted, the program waits for the next idle time to resume the task after checking what needs to be copied. The idle activity check can be disabled in favor of a scheduled or a manual backup. The computer can also be configured to shut down when a backup job finishes.
Note: Some CPU usage may interrupt ‘idle’ times… so if you find that idleness isn’t happening, then you could try disabling the CPU activity check feature.
The Three Backup Modes
Idlebackup allows you to backup in any three ways –
Mirror backup: an uncompressed backup mode which is an exact duplicate of the files being backed up. Mirror backups can also be browsed normally (using Windows Explorer or the built in window) as they are uncompressed. After each data backup, Idlebackup erases unused directories (Synchronize backup) and files from selected directories so the directory structure is a replica to that in the source.
Full backup: a compressed backup which is incremental in the manner it adds updates, changed files to the backup zip archive. Also, each directory can be backed up to a separate compressed archive. The zip archives can be configured for integrity checks.
Sequential backup (Version Backup): a compressed backup which creates individual zipped files per backup job marked with a date-timestamp. Older jobs can be set for deletion after few days thus preserving space.
Multiple Backup Profiles
The beta version has introduced the use of 10 different backup settings. Backup settings are nothing but a source destination path for different kinds of backup jobs. For instance, certain files like mp3 can be backed up to one external drive, photos to another…some files get reserved for a network drive. Each backup setting can be given a name thus creating profiles.
Getting it all back – Restore
For backup software, restoring files is just as important as its core function. Idlebackup restores files automatically only for the uncompressed Mirror backup job. The files can be restored to the original location or to a location of choice. For the compressed backups, a zip program like WinZip or WinRar is required to uncompress the backed up files. With zipped files, all that’s needed is to copy the files from the backup destination to the original path on the hard drive.
What’s there to like?
For a small, simple freeware, the feature set is full of potential. The program is easy enough for a novice user with its fast install and configuration. The program follows certain rules with regards to naming which also become safety nets against overwriting while repairing files through a restore. With a few profile settings, backup jobs can be set for mail clients too (see usage examples). The memory footprint is not significant (about 6K in my test runs).
The new Idlebackup beta so far seems a significant step up from its earlier avatar (ver1.16), with a more flexible set of features.
Are you willing to turn over a new leaf with the backup habit using this freeware? If you are an old hand at data backup tools, give us a heads-up on this simple one.
(By) Saikat is a techno-adventurer in a writer’s garb. When he is not scouring the net for tech news, you can catch him on his personal blog ruminating about the positves in our world.