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Sep
10
2015

[Review] MultCloud 2.3.1 – put multiple cloud drives into one service!

multcloud-logoMore and more people are taking their files online and storing them on storage services all across the internet. The reasons they do this are various, but often it's to allow the same file to be gotten at again when on a different computer; to share documents with colleagues or friends; as a backup in case the local computer fails, or just to clear up space on their own computer by using someone else's storage.

As the desire for online storage increases, more and more companies are setting up their own storage services offering different amounts of space and features. Some users are taking advantage of this by signing up to multiple services, to increase their storage by combining what's available from all the sites; and sharing their files among them based on which service they feel is most useful for each file. MultCloud is designed with these people in mind by allowing them to connect to several services at once, to remove the need to switch between lots of websites. But is it worth your time?

This is an update of a review originally posted on August 26th, 2013 to reflect changes to the service since the original publication.

Read the rest of this entry »

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    Previous Articles


    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.

    A slight caveat exists here, however (read more…)

    Sep
    08
    2013

    [Review] Aomei Backupper 1.6

    Even as more people move more of their work and personal life to the internet – to take advantage of easy availability on any computer, collaborative (working together) features or just to let them store more on their own computers – local storage is never going to completely die. There comes a time when files simply HAVE to be stored on your own drives – after all, computers aren't designed yet to use the internet exclusively for everything they do (unless you count Google Chrome OS); and internet connections aren't always available, online servers can go down, etc. It's always a smart idea, therefore, to keep your own backups on technology you own. And if you need a tool that can help you back up and restore whole disks or partitions, locally or to a networked computer, Aomei Backupper could be just the ticket. But is it any good?

    For the purposes of this review, I decided to try the Windows 7 version of Aomei Backupper. Backupper has since v1.1 been available in two editions – the regular edition, simply known as "AOMEI Backupper", supports all versions of Windows starting from XP or Server 2003, but is larger and less optimized for modern systems. There is also "AOMEI Backupper For Win7", which is smaller but which ONLY works on Windows 7, 8 and Server 2008 or 2012. Both versions are functionally identical, so the version you use shouldn't change the facts presented in this review; although performance may vary.

    Full Review

    Aomei Backupper 1.6 Home Screen (aka Backup Management)Many of you may recognise Aomei Backupper, since it's been covered on Technically Motivated before, having been part of an Aomei Christmas Giveaway we announced last year, while just a few months ago we discussed the release of 1.1.1 and the product's slight name change. With 1.5 releasing only a little while ago and an even more recent 1.6 adding further features and bug fixes, I decided it was time for an in-depth review of the latest release to cover the software as a whole.

    After a brief loading screen (complete with a very cute and friendly, if unusually phrased message of "It is loading, please wait…"), the first thing that will strike you is how simple, yet rather stylish its interface is; consisting of a dark-blue background and light blue foreground that's easy to read. The menu is placed to the left; with just four small links at the top for things like settings and help. The Aomei Backupper window is compact, but large enough to give space to everything on screen and keep it all legible without looking cluttered. However, there's no option to resize if you feel it to be too small.

    From the very beginning, Backupper lets you get straight to business. If you've made backups with the tool before, Backupper's Home Screen (also called the Backup Management screen) lists all your existing backups, showing their name and the time of the backup; otherwise you'll be prompted to do a backup for the first time. You can filter the Home page to only show backups created this day, this week, this month or on a date you choose, if you find seeing all of them at once too distracting – however, Aomei's clear non-English background becomes very apparent here, with the options confusingly described as "Newly Day", "Newly Week" etc. When you have backups showing on this page, Backupper provides a button on each to restore them quickly; and two more buttons revealing menus to update the backups or manage them – we'll get back to these later.

    Aomei Backupper 1.6 Home Screen (aka Backup Management)Performing a new Backup is possible two ways – either click "New Backup" on the home screen, or click "Backup" on the left side menu. This takes you to the Backup page, where you'll be asked for the type of backup you'd like to do. Aomei Backupper is designed to backup disks or whole systems rather than individual files; to this end, three methods of backup are available. The first, "Disk Backup", lets you backup an entire Disk – which can be a Hard Drive, SSD, USB Stick, SD Card or whatever – making copies of everything stored on them; and is probably the tool most useful for the typical user. The second option, "Partition Backup", is really only for experts who like to split their disks into several drives – it lets you back up one partition without backing up the entire disk; so is least likely to be used by a general user. The final backup option is a System Backup, which only backs up your system drive – i.e. what you need to run your computer.

    Share Network/NAS Device ManagementBackupper 1.6's main new feature is that backups can now be saved to Network Attached Storage, meaning you can now backup not just to your own computer, but to others connected to it. This requires you know the network path and, if needed, any login details required to access the share, but if networked storage is of any use to you, these are details you likely know already; and setting up shares and accessing them is just a case of clicking "Share/NAS Device" in the location window, which presents you with a very self-explanatory window (shown left) to connect to or add new shares.

    Schedule Backup Settings

    Another, slightly less new (having actually been introduced in v1.5) but equally useful feature is Scheduling: backups can be scheduled to be performed automatically – at times you decide – without you ever having to lift a finger again. While setting up a backup, clicking "Schedule Off" lets you define a schedule to perform this backup automatically at certain times. Scheduling can be done every day, on specific days of the week, or monthly and set-up is very straightforward, which will be a boost to those looking to have a regular backup routine without any complicated steps.

     

    Aomei Backupper 1.6 Home Screen (aka Backup Management)To test Backupper's performance at doing Backups, I put it through its paces by backing up an 81.3GB System Drive. At default settings, Backupper took 45 minutes to finish the job; and the backup file created was 43.6GB large. At just over 50% of the original size (53.63%), Aomei's compression level is fairly impressive; and I personally found the pace to be very reasonable – but performance will of course be affected by the size and speed of your drives, so your own mileage may vary. The speed or size can be further improved by changing the compression rate, which you can do by clicking "Backup Options" while setting up a backup, or via the "Setting" option that's permanently at the top of the window. Backupper provides "Normal" and "High" compression options – with High making files smaller at the expense of taking much longer to complete – or you can turn off compression completely for fast (but BIG) backups. Other options in "Setting" include splitting backups into multiple smaller files, whether to use "Intelligent Sector" – which keeps unused space out of backups to reduce their size – and whether to enable Windows' Volume Shadow Service to let you work as you backup; "Backup Options" adds to this the ability to encrypt the current backup with a password. A point of note is while changing the Settings under "Setting" affects all future backups, "Backup Options" only affects the backup being made/edited, unless you choose to tick "Would you like to save to global settings?" at the bottom of the settings window.

    While performing a backup, Backupper will show a straightforward progress page, with percentage-labelled bars showing how far along the backup is, a detailed summary of what's going on and just two additional options: To shutdown the computer once the backup completes, or to cancel the backup. All in all, the process is very straightforward.

    Just like the Home page, The "Restore" page presents you with a list of all the backups Aomei Backupper has performed since it was installed, however this time presented in a list format. Additionally you can supply a backup image if for some reason, a backup you wish to restore does not appear on the list. You can also restore a backup directly by clicking its "Restore" button on the Home Screen, so let's go back to that. With backups on the Home Screen, you have full ability to manage them using the buttons that appear when they are hovered over. Clicking "Backup" on a Backup lets you use the same settings to perform a new Full Backup, or change the existing backup by either making an "Incremental Backup", which is a second backup containing whatever wasn't in the first; or a "Differential" Backup which only changes what actually changed since the last backup, saving the time of doing it all over again. This introduces the other new feature of Aomei Backupper 1.6: Incremental and Differential backups can be given comments. What purpose this serves, however, eludes me. Under "Advanced", you'll find options to Delete a backup, check to make sure it hasn't gotten broken ("Check Image"), set up or change a Schedule, go to where the backup is ("Locate Image"), or view properties. There's also an option to look inside the backup to see what it contains "Explore Image", which is very useful.

    Under "Utilities", you'll find the same Check and Explore options we just mentioned; as well as an option to create Bootable Media. This lets you create an emergency disk that you can use to restore backups even if you can't boot into your computer any more, so you always have the means to restore your system or get to your files if the worst comes to pass. Unusually for a free Backup utility, Backupper will create WinPE boot disks as well as Linux disks – which is a major plus point. One final option Aomei Backupper offers is the ability to "Clone" drives and partitions, basically making an exact copy of one drive/partition to save to another. Sadly, I didn't have time to test this prior to this review.

    Aomei Backupper 1.6 takes no system resources while running but not performing backups. While a backup IS in progress, the software's CPU usage tends to hover around the 30-40% mark (tested on a dual-core, 1.65GHz processor); but occasionally spikes or falls sharply. You probably won't want to do high-intensity tasks while performing a backup; but continuing business in Microsoft Office or a similar medium-intense task while it runs should be perfectly fine.

    Conclusion

    Aomei Backupper 1.6 makes for a mostly straightforward tool for backing up whole disks, partitions or system drives – though some dodgy translation issues affect your understanding of certain options. Performance is reasonable, with backups having decent speed and good compression; and an acceptable level of resource usage during a backup. However, where the tool really shines is its ability to save to Network Attached Storage and create WinPE boot disks… all for free. If you want a strong disk backup tool which is capable and schedule-able, but for no money, Aomei Backupper should be high on your list.

    Aug
    26
    2013

    [Review] MultCloud

    Logo for MultCloudMore and more people are taking their files online and storing them on storage services all across the internet. The reasons they do this are various, but often it's to allow the same file to be gotten at again when on a different computer; to share documents with colleagues or friends; as a backup in case the local computer fails, or just to clear up space on their own computer by using someone else's storage.

    As the desire for online storage increases, more and more companies are setting up their own storage services offering different amounts of space and features. Some users are taking advantage of this by signing up to multiple services, to increase their storage by combining what's available from all the sites; and sharing their files among them based on which service they feel is most useful for each file. MultCloud – formerly DropInOne – is designed with these people in mind by allowing them to connect to several services at once, to remove the need to switch between lots of websites. But is it worth your time?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2013
    Acknowledgements: Some imagery from Aomei, used with pe more...
    Some Rights Reserved
    May
    08
    2013

    Aomei Data Backup[p]er gets small update, tweaked name

    A little while ago here at Technically Motivated, we discussed Aomei Data Backuper, a tool from Aomei Technology – makers of partitioning and data management software that often bears striking similarities to EASEUS and Paragon products, at a fraction of the cost. Aomei Data Backuper is a software that allows users to perform backup and restore operations on files, partitions or whole disks easily. After a quick beta (during which testers were entered into a promotion to win a copy of another software from the company), the product was released as a Freeware, offering easy and comprehensive backup solutions to everybody running Windows XP or 7 at no cost.

    Aomei Technology this week decided to slightly rename the software, adding an extra P into the name to fix what was seen as a very slight spelling mistake. At the same time, an updated version of the software was announced, expanding support to a wider range of Windows computers.

    The new Aomei Data Backupper v1.1 (notice the subtle change?) introduces support for Windows 8 computers and the latest Windows Server releases. The software is now offered in two flavours – the full-fat “Backupper”, which supports Windows XP/Vista/7/8 and Server 2003/2008/2011/2012 and for which the download takes 52MB of space; and a lightweight “Backupper For Win7” package, which only supports the most recent Windows releases, Windows 7/8 and Windows Server 2008 R2 or Server 2012; but shrinks the download size to just 14MB. Both versions are functionally equivalent, so the shrunk-down version simply trims the download and installation size for those who have only the most recent Windows editions on their computer.

    While even the larger package of Aomei Data Backupper only supports Windows XP and upwards, for those who have older Windows releases, Aomei offers a concession to you as well. Also in the v1.1 update is an improved version of the AOMEI Backupper Linux Bootable Disc. Downloadable directly from the product’s download page as well as included with the full installs, the Linux Bootable Disk can be placed on a CD or other bootable media; which can then be inserted into a computer at boot time, allowing Aomei Data Backupper to be used without even touching Windows itself and regardless of what version Windows is on the computer. However, the software can only correctly back up Windows partitions and files, so this option is mostly useful if you have an unsupported version of Windows or can’t boot into Windows for any reason – users of other systems will likely find the capabilities of the Bootable Disk lacking, despite its Linux base. It also comes in handy if you want a portable version of the software to take with you and use on other computers, as the core Aomei Data Backupper software does not have a portable edition.

    Version Reviewed: 1.1.1
    File size: 14MB (Windows 7 Edition); 52MB (For all supported Windows); 39MB (Linux Bootable Disc)
    (Download sizes only – installed size may vary)
    Is it portable?: No

    [Aomei Data Backupper Homepage]
    Dec
    19
    2012

    Make file, partition or whole system backups with Aomei Data Backuper – try the beta for a chance to get goodies!

    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.

    Regular partner of Technically Motivated, Aomei Technology, have for a while now been establishing a reputation for affordable, well-built disk management tools for Windows computers that offer a nice alternative to common favourites like Paragon and EASEUS. Most of these tools have so far been focused towards converting one drive’s File System to another; or resizing, rearranging and moving partitions – but with recent versions of the latter tool, Aomei Partition Assistant, offering the ability to copy whole partitions, the tool has taken a slight curve to being useful for backups as well. So perhaps it was just a matter of time before Aomei released a backup tool of their own.

    Aomei Data Backuper is a brand new tool from Aomei that’s specifically designed for backing up the data on your computer and keeping it safe for if you ever lose files later on. As well as backing up the contents of individual folders, however, Data Backuper can also backup entire partitions or make a copy of the entire system; and does plenty more besides:

    Main Features:
    • System Backup and Restore
    • Disk Backup and Restore
    • Partition/Volume Backup and Restore
    • Disk Clone
    • Partition and Volume Clone
    More Features:
    • Create Bootable Rescue Media
    • Incremental & differential backups
    • Image file checker and explorer

    Aomei Data Backuper is soon to be launched as a commercial product, but in order to ensure it’s working well and to get feedback from potential customers, the company has released a free Beta of the product for everyone to try. As a special incentive, Aomei will give 100 randomly selected beta testers a Christmas gift of either the fullAOMEI Data Backuper Pro Edition when the final product is released; or their popular disk partition manager, AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional Edition. This promotion and the beta software runs until December 20th and is compatible with Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers. So if you need a good-looking, functional backup tool and want the chance for an early Christmas gift, don’t miss out!

    Aomei Data Backuper Home page

    May
    20
    2012

    Aomei invite public to test upcoming Partition Assistant v5.0 product – and get a free licence when it launches!

    Last year, exactly a month after Christmas 2010, Technically Motivated got word of a freebie for a then rather obscure partitioning product, Aomei Partition Assistant Professional Edition 3.0. Then, some months ago, we covered its successor, Partition Assistant 4.0, which hit headlines when Aomei claimed it was designed to be "perfectly compatible with Windows 8 first time", despite Windows 8 being pre-beta at this point in time. Aomei's Partition Assistant line has regularly attracted attention for being a frequent giveaway from the company and highly promoted; the software itself being a very competent Partitioning Software with strong resemblance to comparable products from EASEUS; but which performs its job just as adequately – however, its feature-set has lagged behind its competitors and the interfaces are sometimes poorly translated, making its value questionable in comparison.

    Fast forward another few months and the tables are turning. Aomei are soon to release a new, 5.0 version of AOMEI® Partition Assistant (PA5 from here on, for the sake of brevity); and boy, is it hitting back hard! As well as moving, resizing and generally allowing users to manage unused and Windows partitions however they like, PA5 now also handles Linux ext2/3 partitions and can create new ones of these too, finally overcoming one of its key weaknesses in the Partitioning market. More than this, the new software can Migrate an entire operating system from one SSD or HDD to another or even from SSD to HDD, something even Paragon requires specialist software for. The whole list of changes from 4.0 to 5.0, according to Aomei themselves, looks like this:

    PA5 doesn't officially release until Monday, May 28; but to show the company is committed to its customers; and to ensure no unforeseen bugs have slipped in before its release, the company is pre-releasing a test version, titled Aomei Partition Assistant 5.0 Preview, a week early for any member of the public to try out. The idea behind this release is to let people get an idea of what the product will be like before it goes on sale; to discover any unknown bugs; and to hear from potential customers just what they think about the program and if any changes should be made.

    To make the deal even sweeter, anyone who joins in testing the preview and supplies their email on the download page, will be entitled to a FREE full license of the finished version of PA5 Pro, to use on one computer for as long as they like – saving $36 (roughly £22.75) in the process!

    Joining in is easy. Between May 21 and May 28, 2012, just go to http://www.disk-partition.com/specials/papreview.html, look for this banner, and click the big green "Test now" button. Note that the button will not function outside of the testing period:

    Join us to test Partition Assistant V5.0 PREVIEW Now. You will get one Partition Assistant Pro V5.0 License Free  (Test invitation will be started on May 21, and ended on May 28, 2012) - Test Now

    Don't forget to also click the "Submit your email address" link to get your free license!

    Mar
    09
    2012

    Aomei release Partition Manager for Windows 8. (Yeah, you read that right.)

    Windows 8 – the next version of Windows after the current Windows 7, which will be the first to target computers, smartphones and tablets in the same system – is still yet to receive an official launch, though Microsoft did launch a Windows 8 Consumer Preview recently, to allow everyone to download a test version of Windows – so that the general public can try out the new system before it launches and see whether they like it, as well as to allow them to prepare themselves for the many changes it will bring.

    Despite this, many software developers are already working on new versions of their applications that are specifically tailored to work on, or take advantage of extra functionality Windows 8 will bring. However, most of these applications were either Microsoft-developed and to be expected anyway (e.g. Office), or only needed small tweaks to function; and most of these are just small, simple programs. So when Aomei emailed Technically Motivated today boasting that their Partition Assistant 4.0 is "perfectly compatible with Windows 8 at first time", I was naturally curious. Read the rest of this entry »

    Dec
    23
    2011

    Aomei celebrate festive season in style: Giveaway contests, software updates and more

    Aomei Technology – a known but not entirely famous company good at creating low-cost software solutions for managing, partitioning, converting and backing up hard-disks and other physical storage solutions, that are often closely resemblant of similar offerings by more reputable companies but cheaper (and occasionally not as well-translated) – have really gotten into the Festive Spirit this month; and they want to spread the joy with people worldwide.

    As a way of celebrating the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, Aomei are running three separate promotions giving gifts to fans of their products, which are described in “waves”. The first wave involves sharing information about an Aomei product with your friends or social network contacts and then emailing them with proof of the share; and brings a chance to win a 50% off voucher for any Aomei product, valid for one month.

    The second wave, which expires shortly, brings a chance to win a free copy of one of their five key products Read the rest of this entry »

    Dec
    23
    2011

    Aomei update Partition Assistant Home Edition, adds more compatible OSes, changes licencing restrictions

    One of Technically Motivated’s regular partners, Aomei Technology, who specialise in disk management, recovery and conversion software, got in touch today to inform us of an updated release of one of their key products.

    Aomei Partition Assistant Home Edition received a small update earlier this week, bringing a few minor software improvements. The main new feature is improved OS compatibility, meaning that APA can now be run on a wider range of Windows systems – the new additions being Windows 2000 Professional 32-bit; and a new 64-bit release for 64-bit editions of Windows 7, XP, Vista and 2000 Professional. Their lesser “Lite” edition goes further by also adding support for Windows Server 2000/2003/2008, for those who maintain servers but just need basic partition features or are strapped for cash.

    Interestingly, with the new Home Edition release, Aomei have also changed the terms of the licence governing usage of the software. The new Home Edition licence permits the software to be used for commercial uses, making Aomei Partition Assistant Home Edition a perfect choice for home-based businesses. Looks like there’s a new face in town…

    Digiprove sealThis informative article has been Digiproved © 2011
    Acknowledgements: Information courtesy of AomeiTech
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