One of the most important tasks every computer user should undertake, is to set up a backup plan that will make sure that they have a backup of all of their important documents contained on their computer. While I can understand that this task may seem daunting at first to newer computer users, it’s actually a very simple thing to do and this program is one of the easiest ones to use that I have reviewed so far. I have known a lot of people including family and friends, lose some of their most cherished memories over the years from not making regular backups, and then having their laptops break or get stolen. Don’t let that be you.
If you are wondering which type of media to back your files up to, then my personal suggestion would be to an external hard drive instead of CD/DVD. The reason for this is simply down to the fact that CD/DVD’s are far more susceptible to damage (scratches) than a hard drive. Also don’t back the files up to the same computer even if you do have separate internal drives; if you get your machine stolen then the data is gone for good. Another useful way to store your valuable data would be to use Cloud Storage like Dropbox, Google Drive or Mega. Below is a very brief description for the three free Cloud Storage sites mentioned.
- Dropbox gives you 2GB of free storage and allows you to easily sync your data on your computer to your online storage account. Use this referral link to sign up and you will get an additional 500MB included (total 2.5GB) They also provide both mobile and desktop apps.
- Google Drive is Google’s free online cloud storage that gives all users 15GB of storage space. You can also easily sync the files on your computer with your online storage by using their Google Drive app for the desktop. Mobile apps are also available and you can sign up here to use it.
- Mega is the newest and fastest growing cloud storage sites, that also gives all users a huge 50GB of free storage. You can sign up here to get your own account, but make sure to make a note of your password as that is also used to encrypt your data. I use Mega a lot as do many of my friends, so if you wish to know more then either go to their main site of check out my article on Mega here.
In this tutorial I will show you how to use Backup Maker via a step-by-step approach including basic configuration which will hopefully, give you a bit of peace of mind knowing that should the worst happen, you have a copy of your files. Backup Maker has been around for a long time now since its first release back in January 2002, and has had some fantastic features added to it over the years. This program is for Windows only (sorry Mac users) and supports the following platforms:
- Windows 8 (32-bit & 64-bit)
- Windows 7 (32-bit & 64-bit)
- Windows Vista (32-bit & 64-bit)
- Windows XP (32-bit & 64-bit)
- Windows Server 2008 (32-bit & 64-bit)
- Windows Server 2003 (32-bit & 64-bit
The program is also available in the following languages that can be accessed by clicking on the icon on the bottom left of the main window (by default it is set to EN (English)
Right, let’s begin. You can download Backup Maker for free here, which is free for personal use. There is also a commercial version available for $32.29. The difference between the free and commercial editions is that you get technical support and can of course use it in a commercial environment. I will be using the latest version (v6.505) of the free edition for this article and installing on Windows 7 (32 bit). Once you have downloaded and installed (there is no additional installs/toolbars included) the software, you will be presented with the main window. There are 12 setup steps in total which we will look at below. In total this should only take you a few minutes to complete and then you can just sit back and let the program run, so don’t let the amount of images/steps put you off as you might not require some of them.
Along the top of the main screen, you will see Program, Configuration, CD/DVD, Update and Help. Let’s take a quick look at what each one of these means and how it can help you.
This simply allow you to minimise (to the system tray) or maximise the main screen. You also have the Exit option which closes the program. Bear in mind that if you exit the program, any automated backup tasks that you have set won’t run.
Here you are given two option, Settings and Export. The Settings area is where you can make many different changes or edits to your backup tasks. Here you will see 5 tabs, Program, Report, Zip, Internet and Other.
Program – Make basic edits to how the program runs, such as starting automatically when the computer starts, (recommended if you have set automated backups) to how much of the CPU the program can use. (High priority to low) It’s best to leave this set to the default of Medium.
Report – Here you can get the program to output backup reports for you, where they should be stored, how many reports are stored over time thru to how detailed the reports should be.
Zip – Here is where you can choose whether or not to compress your backups, (great if you need to save space on your external HD or CD/DVD) to whether or not you want the program to verify your backups. (by default it is set to verify which is good)
Internet – This is where you can specify how the program interacts with you internet connection. This is for when users are backing up their files to another place via FTP backups. You can also input your SMTP details for which ever email client you use, (Gmail, Outlook etc) email address and password and port number which is for people who wish to have a report emailed to them upon completion of the backup task. Good to do if you aren’t always around for when the program runs your tasks.
Other – Here is where you can turn on or off the programs reminder function that gives you a friendly nudge to make a backup should you forget. Great for people like me.#
The other part id the Export tool. This will allow you to export the programs settings as a reg file. (bkmaker.reg) I’d recommend doing this as it will save you having to set up the program again should you wish to do a re-install of your operation system in the future.
This is where you can get the program to erase your re-writable CD or DVD so that you can use it to write your backed up files to.
This simply opens up the update wizard that will check to see if you are running the latest version of the program.
This has two very simple options. The first is the Help one, which open the programs instruction manual that gives you information on every aspect of the software. The other is the Info option which simply inform you which version of the software you are running.
Now that we have got the basics out the way, lets take a step-by-step walk through on the actual process.
Click on Backup
Note that the window at the bottom of the first screen will be blank if this is the first time you have used the program. Once you have created a backup task, you will then see it in the area below. You can also use this area to add new backup tasks, (which opens the main wizard) edit existing tasks or delete tasks. If you wish to edit or delete an existing task, simply select it and use the option to the side (Edit or Delete) If you wish to manually run an existing backup task, then just select it and hit the Execute (play) button
Keep the Expert Mode box checked as you may require some of the more advanced features
In this step you are given the option of simply selecting the most common place where files are located by just checking the applicable boxes. For the purposes of this article, and due to the fact that I have data in many different areas of my computer, please select Files and Folders. This way you can individually select various areas to backup. I like the fact that they give users the option of a Simple selection, but it’s a little too basic.
Here is where you get to choose your individual locations where your important data is stored. Places to think about are your Documents folder, Pictures, Video, Music, Downloads, (default area for most browsers) Desktop etc. Also if you use Outlook, make sure that you also back up you .pst files as well.
Outlook .pst file location – C:>Users>Your Username>AppData>Local>Microsoft>Outlook>Outlook.pst
Note that you will have to enable viewing of hidden files and folders in Control Panel>Folder Options>View to see the AppData folder.
Here is where you can add any various filters to your backup. For the vast majority of people this will not be necessary.
In this section you can set up an automated backup task to begin at a certain time or have the task begin when a system event is triggered. As I carry out my backups manually to an external device, this can be skipped.
If you have set up the backup process to begin at a certain time or day and you miss that due to the computer being off whilst you were away, then you can get the program to begin one automatically as soon as the machine is powered on again, or get it to ask you to back up. Nice feature for those who forget things from time to time.
This is where you can instruct the program to only backup files if they have been changed or were not present in the previous backup. This can save you a lot of time and disk space for future backing up
If you wish to have different backup instances, then you can get the program to do so here.
If you wish to have Backup Maker encrypt your backups then you can do so here. This is advisable if you are backing up sensitive data so use AES 256-bit encryption which is the strongest encryption that the program supports and is very secure. Just remember to make a note of your password, (eg. email it to yourself) as if you forget it there won’t be any way to recover that data.
This is where you can get the program to get confirmation from you before the backup task starts
This is where you can get the program to execute certain tasks before and after the backup process, like sending you an email stating that the backup has completed or a report to your printer.
You will need to configure your email details if you wish to use the email report function, but this is very simple to do via Configuration>Settings>Internet. For Gmail users the details you will require are:
- SMTP: smtp.gmail.com
- Username: Your email address
- Password: Your email password
Please note that the reports can be very long, so you may not want to have it automatically sent to your printer once the backup completes. You may prefer just to get it emailed instead. I have created a basic image below showing you the various tasks that can be completed before or after the program has run. This is a great feature for the software and great for people who want to create a set-and-forget backup task.
If you are backing up to a CD or DVD, then you can instruct the program to split the backup over multiple disks.
This is where you get to set the target location of the backups. You can choose to send the data to an external device, (my choice) to a CD or DVD or via FTP is you are able to.
This is where you name your backup and add a timestamp to it. This is a good thing to do if you are manually backing up and forget when the last time was that you actually did one.
That’s it. Now just hit the Execute button below, which looks like a Play button and the program will start to backup your data to wherever you set it to.
This software does exactly what it advertises, in that it really makes the whole process of backing up as simple as it can be. There are some fantastic feature that I like about the program like the ability to backup via FTP, getting the program to send you an email report for the latest backup right through to being able to use strong encryption to secure your backed up data. As I was using the Free edition, which is pretty much identical to the Pro edition (except for free tech support and commercial use) I was unable to test their support for the program That said, it’s very simple to use so this will hopefully be some thing you won’t ever need to worry about.
Let me know if you use the program and what you think of it. If you have any questions regarding how to do certain things, then feel free to ask below and I will try to help you if I can.