Fresh Off The Block


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…)

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    Previous Articles


    Mar
    12
    2015

    Google launches Nearline offering cheap storage for lesser-used files

    Some time ago, Amazon launched a new online storage service called “Glacier”, so named because it was designed with a view to act as “cold storage” for your files. Glacier offered cheaper storage for those files you just HAVE to keep online, but don’t have a need to access on a constant basis – such as backups. In a clear case of “anything you can do, I can do better”, Google have responded by launching their own similar service, known as Google Nearline.

    Google Nearline is a new service to host historical data and files you don’t expect to use very often. For example, say you’re a student. You’ll probably want your latest essays and coursework, research notes and so on immediately accessible via Google Drive to work on as you need ready for the upcoming deadlines; but what those essays from a year ago or older that have long since been passed to your teachers or professors and marked? They might be worth keeping for later review or research, but you probably won’t be needing to read those very often any more, right? That’s what Nearline is for. It’s the kind of cloud storage that businesses often need, but ordinary people may not want, especially if it isn’t cheap.

    Luckily, keeping things cheap is something Google has been very aggressive about recently. Back in March, the company slashed Drive storage pricing across the board, cutting the price of its 100GB Drive tier by more than half and lowering the cost per terabyte per month to just $10 USD. With Nearline, however, Google are allowing customers to fine-tune their spending and storage requirements to the exact penny if they so choose – the service charges by the gigabyte, at a rate of just a penny per GB per month.

    Google Nearline also offers advantages in other areas, according to the company. One is in its speed – while services such as the aforementioned Amazon Glacier require several hours before the stored data can be retrieved once again, Nearline is able to serve data in around three seconds. It also integrates with other products in Google’s Cloud Platform portfolio, making it easier for pre-existing installations to tap into the system.

    Google’s moves are a reflection of the cut-throat industry online storage has become, where any company that doesn’t move fast will crash and burn rapidly. Even as storage offerings become cheaper and faster for the consumer, the profits on offer continue to shoot up as more people embrace online solutions to store data where they can easily get to it later – whether it’s personal, private or business. With Microsoft’s Azure platform proving itself one of the company’s most profitable divisions; and storage-based companies such as Box and Dropbox raising millions in investor funds, competition is always hotting up.

    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.

    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