May
12
2015

[Review] Aomei Backupper 2.5 Standard Edition

Making backups of important data stored on your computer (or media attached to it) is always very important – if something happens to your technology and you can’t use it any more, can you afford to lose what you had stored on it? The importance of ensuring you’re prepared for any failure – and thus never regret not having a copy when the worst happens – is one of the reasons why software to automate and/or simplify the process of making backups is such a large industry, with tons of different tools on the market.

We’ve reviewed one of these tools – Aomei Backupper – on three separate occasions in the past – but now the developer, Aomei Technology, have been in touch to say that they have released a new version of their popular backup tool which adds even more capabilities to your standard backup software, including features in the free version that are normally only found in paid editions of competing backup products.

What’s New

Having said all this, were you to have used a previous version of Aomei Backupper and then upgrade to 2.5, it is unlikely you’ll see much of a difference from first glance:

Aomei Backupper 1.6 Home Screen (aka Backup Management)

The “Home” screen shown on opening the software in Aomei Backupper v1.6…

Aomei Backupper 2.5 Home Screen (aka Backup Management)

…And the same screen in Aomei Backupper Standard Edition 2.5 (click pictures to enlarge)

Except for the “Freeware” label having changed to “Upgrade” (as Aomei Backupper is now under a commercial licence and has paid upgrades available), the interface is very similar to that of previous releases.

There IS, however, a small difference here, which is represented by a new icon on the 2.5 screen depicting an arrow pointing to a box. This leads to a new “Import / Export Configuration” Screen, where the list of Backup Tasks you have set up in Aomei Backupper can itself be backed up for later use, or restored from a previous export.

The main new feature of Aomei Backupper 2.5 revolves around the System Restore feature. Although the feature itself came in as of v2.1, 2.5 makes huge improvements over the previous editions. A newly supported feature is Universal Restore, which allows Aomei Backupper to potentially move everything stored on one computer to another one. Universal Restore allows a backup made on one type of hardware to be restored on another computer with dissimilar or even completely different hardware, making it perfect for those who might, for example, want to upgrade their laptop or desktop computer but keep hold of all their data. Backupper can also restore backups made on an MBR-based disk to a GPT-based one and vice-versa; so if your new computer boots using a modern UEFI-based system rather than the old style BIOS, you’ll still be able to use the restore. This means there is now little standing in the way of Backupper being able to restore data from different devices even if your new computer ends up having little in common with your old one.

"Unlock" Dialogue for Clone System tool in Aomei Baackupper 2.5A slight caveat exists here, however. While backing up an entire system is free and available from the start, if you want to “Clone” the system – i.e. make an exact copy to move over to another Hard Drive – you have to unlock the feature first. In the free edition, this requires that you promote Aomei Backupper via social media or on a Forum. On clicking the “Clone System” option for the first time, you’ll be presented with a request to promote the tool; and a default message you can use for your message. In order to unlock the feature, you will need to post a Tweet, Google+ or Facebook post, or a Forum message containing the words “Aomei Backupper”, then come back to this screen and provide the link to the post. Alternatively, the feature will be automatically unlocked if you upgrade to a paid edition of Aomei Backupper. This requirement for unlocking a free feature slightly smacks of Aomei trying to force its customers into providing them free advertising; but is certainly a welcome change from charging for what is likely to be a very popular option.

 

AB25NewScheduleOptionAnother new feature concerns scheduling backups. By clicking “Advanced Settings”, you can now select if you want Aomei Backupper to run a backup task the next time your computer starts if it wasn’t able to run at the originally scheduled time – for example, because the computer was switched off. All you have to do is tick the new option “Run missed backup at the next system startup.” when editing or creating a schedule for a backup task. For some reason, this option is disabled if you also tick the “Use Windows Task Scheduler to run each scheduled backups” option.

Performance

We tested out the new version of Aomei Backupper by having it perform a Disk Backup on a 2012 ASUS-brand laptop computer. We set Backupper to perform a Disk Backup of the laptop’s entire hard drive, which was made up of four partitions – a recovery partition, a C: and a D: drive, and a partition containing a Linux Mint install, totalling 356GB of used data.

We backed up the drive to an Intenso-brand 1TB hard drive using a USB 2.0 connection (the laptop pre-dates widespread adoption of 3.0, which is faster, so newer hardware should see a significant speed boost). Testing performance of Backup software in terms of speed is not an easy task; as the speed of any backup will be dependent on a number of factors. The exact settings being used for the backup will obviously have an influence on both speed and the eventual file size of the backup; but other influencers will be the exact hardware of the laptop; and what is running in addition to the backup software. For the purposes of getting as close to a real-world estimate of what a typical user might experience with a similar backup, all settings were kept to the defaults offered by the software; including using the Standard Compression – except that we checked “Verify integrity of the finished backup” during testing to allow the program to check the completed backup was made correctly.

During the backup process, the software at all times offered an estimate of the speed the backup was going. The backup started off slow with just 7.75MB of data processed per second, but quickly sped up. However, as the backup process got stuck in to backing up the C: and D: partitions used by Windows itself, Backupper seemed to fluctuate regularly in the speed in which it performed the backup tasks. Though it typically hovered around the 35MB/sec mark, the performance occasionally dropped to about a third of this at random occasions. Admittedly, this could be due to Windows using the drives that were being backed up; and it is hard to pinpoint the exact reason for slowdowns – your own mileage may vary.

What cannot be argued with is the final result. With the default settings, our 356GB of data was compressed into a single .adi backup file taking up 296GB of space. This meant with standard compression, the backup was shrunk by 60GB, which represents about a one-sixth reduction – meaning for larger backups such as these, Backupper’s default settings are likely to represent a significant space saving which will come in very handy for fitting in further backups – or other data – at a later date. On completion of the backup, an entry for the task gets automatically added to the software’s home screen, making repeating the same backup; restoring the backup; and performing “Advanced” tasks such as checking its integrity all trivial tasks as the options are presented to you straight away, which will simplify the process for those likely to repeat a backup task often or someone who will need to recover the data later – thus reducing the software’s barrier to entry slightly, which is always an important consideration with software designed to help you keep your data safe.

Other Stuff

Backupper 2.5 also incorporates all the changes made in previous releases of Aomei Backupper. When restoring a Partition Backup, it is now possible to restore to a smaller partition than the one the original backup was from, as long as part of the size of the previous partition was free space and there is enough space and there is enough space on the new partition to fit in the actual data. You can now also find and restore backups saved on a networked computer, both features added since 2.1 which we have not mentioned in previous reviews. Aomei Backupper will also attempt to retain file timestamps and date when restoring files. v2.5 also fixes two major usability bugs, the first being that the tray icon would stop working after performing a scheduled backup task, making restoring or quitting the program difficult. The other bug that has been fixed is with Network Attached Storage, whereby if you changed the password to access a networked drive in Backupper’s settings, it would not be properly remembered; and you would need to constantly re-type the new username and password the next time you attempted to use a network location within Backupper.

Conclusion

With Aomei Backupper 2.5 Standard Edition, Aomei Technologies have taken what was already a solid and capable backup tool and taken it up a few notches. While the overall feel of the tool and its performance with backups remains the same, the new capabilities to backup entire systems and even transfer them to totally different hardware; and the additional little touches all over the shop make for a Backup tool that fits an even wider range of use cases – and with the Standard Edition, it’s all still available for free. If that’s not tempting for anyone looking to protect their system from future disasters, I don’t know what is.

Version Reviewed: 2.5 Standard Edition
File size: 28.5MB (Windows 7 Edition); 69.3MB (For all supported Windows); 41.5MB (Linux Bootable Disc)
(Download sizes only – installed size may vary)
Is it portable?: No

[Aomei Backupper Homepage]

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