I love backup utilities and I also love different and creative ways in helping users get their data backed up because their data is what is most important. However, many people don’t seem to realize this fact! Therefore, when a representative from EaseUS contacted me and offered me a full version of the software in exchange for a fair review on my blog plus providing me six licenses of the software to giveaway to my readers, how could I resist?! EaseUS makes a great deal of different products that helps users both at home and in the enterprises deal with their backup needs. Most familiar to me is EaseUS Partition Manager. It allowed a user to easily re-partition their hard drive for dual-booting via a easy to use graphical interface. With Todo Backup Workstation, this all-in-one backup software aims to solve all of your backup needs. After looking at the extensive feature list, there was just no way I would pass up on the opportunity to try out this product.
At the time of this writing, the product being reviewed here is EaseUS ToDo Backup Workstation version 4.5. The best part is that it is supported under Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 7, and 8! It basically got you covered no matter which version of Windows you are running with. The product costs $39 but they do offer you a 15-day trial. However, the trial version does not allow you to create the WinPE bootable disk and system snapshot feature. EaseUS is also nice enough to offer a free version of ToDo Backup for casual users.You can download EaseUS ToDo Backup Workstation 4.5 from here. You can also download the free version from here.
With that being said, let’s get started because there is definitely a lot to go over!UPDATE 4/18/13: EaseUS Todo Backup has now been upgrade to version 5.8. You can find a list of the features for the new version from this link.
Luckily, installing ToDo Backup Workstation (TBW) is pretty much a next, next, finish type ordeal. Here I am installing TBW on a Windows 8 machine. My main backup device will be a simple external USB hard drive. One thing you will notice is the installation asking you to create a management account for centralized management of TBW. Because we will not be using the centralized console, I simply disabled this option.
After installation completes, a quick tour showing you new TBW interface will appear.
Finally, here is the main interface for TBW 4.5. It does look a little plain and I find it kind of weird not being able to resize the application window but nonetheless, it is the program’s capability that I am most interested in.
Full System Backup
TBW, like any good backup program should, allows us to either create a standard backup consisting of files and folders of our choosing or to simply just create a full system backup and be done with it. The good news is it’s not either or. You can for example choose to create a one time system backup and then proceed to create manual backup jobs to help protect your most important files on a schedule of your choosing. So, let’s create our first full system backup! In the main interface, I’ll select the ‘system backup’ link. Next, I get to specify a couple of things. Most important is the backup name, description and schedule settings. Scheduling is turned off by default. If you don’t normally leave your computer turned on when you are away, it’s usually a good idea to skip backup schedules. TBW can also help you manage your backups to keep from clogging your backup drive by allowing you to specify how many sets of images to keep. If you click on the ‘backup options’ link, you can configure a myriad of additional options for your current backup job such as specifying compression level, encryption protection, splitting the backup file into smaller data chunks, backup process priority, email notifications, custom commands, offsite copy and network speed!My system drive consist of about 35GB of data. Under Normal compression mode (default), the backup file on disk came out to about 21GB.
File/Folder and Drive Backup
Now that I’ve gotten my system backup created, I now will create a backup job to help backup my most important folders. By default, a data backup job will include my user profile’s Document’s folder, Favorites, and anything on my Desktop. Of course, you can opt to unselect these locations and choose only the files or folders of your choice. In my case, I’m only backing up a folder called Important Docs. As with the system backup, you are able to configure a schedule for automatic backup for this specific backup job as well as specify the numerous backup options mentioned earlier. If you need to perform a backup for an entire drive or partition, you can also specify it here as well by choosing the Disk/Partition tab. You can either choose to back up the entire physical drive and all partitions within it or selectively choose the partition for backup. Once the backup completes, TBW will store the backup as a file with a .PBD file extension.
Differential and Incremental Backup
To perform either backup type for a backup job, head over to the Management tab in TBW. Here you will see all of your backup jobs that you have created up to that point. In my scenario, I have made a full folder backup of my Important Docs folder. Two days later, I want to perform a differential backup to backup all the changes since two days ago. I simply select my backup job and under the Backup button, select the type of backup I want to perform. Here I select Differential. TBW will then proceed to scan the directory for any changes and back them up. You can see that TBW created a second .PBD backup file in the backup directory. In order to fully restore the entire directory, I need both backup files. When you create incremental backups, you will definitely see more .PBD files as each incremental backup should be created in a new .PBD file.It is highly recommended that you utilize either the differential or incremental backup method to help protect your data. While it is possible to perform a full backup for every single backup job, it will be very time consuming, especially if you have huge data files.
With a backup of our data safely stored away, its now time to perform a recovery to help us restore our data. There are a lot of different methods for doing so and it all depends on what it is you are trying to recover. Here, lets say I totally wrecked my Important Docs folder, which I backed up earlier. Within TBW, I select File Recover in the main interface. TBW will then present to me any backup job that contains files and directories to recover. Here, I only have one job. Next, I need to select the recovery point. Remember, I created a full backup along with a differential backup. Therefore, I should see two backup files. To recovery everything in my Important Docs folder up to the last backup point, I need both the full backup file along with the most recent differential file. Here, I select the differential backup file. TBW is smart enough to recover the full backup file first before laying over it the differential backup. In the next screen, you can actually specify what to recover if you do not want to recover every single file in the backup job. In the File Recovery screen, you can select the recovery destination. You can either recovery to the same location or to a different one and whether to overwrite existing files or not. The recovery process will then proceed.
Creating WinPE Bootable Disc
When you need to perform a full system recovery, there is a good chance that your computer is not able to boot into the Windows environment. Therefore, you won’t be able to get to TBW. In these cases, you will need to create a emergency boot disc and hopefully you’ve created one ahead of time! TBW makes this extremely easy to do. You just need to click on the ‘create bootable disk’ link and follow the prompt. You need to specify where you want to create the disk. Here I’m choosing to export the emergency disk to an .iso image file to test in a virtual machine. When you boot with the emergency disc, you’ll see the same TBW interface loaded but with some options disabled. To recover your system, you would simply select the ‘system recovery’ option and choose the right backup image file.
This is one of the features of TBW that I am most excited in trying out. With Windows built-in System Restore feature, it allows a user to roll back time to undo certain changes to their system such as when they got infected with a piece of malware. However, System Restore only protected certain parts of the Windows system. With TBW’s System Snapshot feature, it allows a user to completely roll back the entire system to the point they created the snapshot. This feature is particularly useful for people who needs to manage public computers that are shared by many different users such as in libraries, public kiosks, or in computer labs. By creating a baseline or “clean” snapshot of the system initially, the computer administrator can then go ahead and reset the computer back to this snapshot whenever the users are finished using the computers. This way, the administrator do not have to worry about cleaning out malware or learning how to undo the changes made by the users.
By default, the snapshot feature is not enabled in TBW. However, enabling it consist of a single button press. Next, you’ll need to specify how much hard drive space you want to dedicate in storing your snapshots. I stuck with the defaults. When you proceed, TBW will do its thing and you’ll be prompted for a restart. Your first snapshot will then be created. To recover a snapshot is just a matter of selecting the snapshot you want to revert to and hitting the ‘Recover’ button. EaseUS is a Chinese based company and if you go to their website, you’ll find that their English grammar is not the best. Here in the snapshot recovery screen, I find it a bit troublesome that some of those mistakes also made it to the retail version of the product. The good news is that the product does work and the snapshot feature works like a charm. I installed a couple of programs as well as created some documents. I reverted back to the default snapshot and once rebooted, all of those newly installed programs and files were gone.It is imperative that you understand how the system snapshot feature works. When you revert back to a system snapshot in TBW, all files and programs created after that snapshot was created will be wiped out! If you share user accounts on a single computer, you need to tell your users that they need to save all of their important documents on a different drive, such as USB, because all work will be deleted when the snapshot recovery feature is invoked. If you administrate computers in a lab environment or cafe, you would revert the snapshots either after every user session or at the end of the day, respectively.
Image Browsing and Image Mounting
For users who like to manually recover files without going through the TBW interface, you can actually browse within the .PBD backup file right in Windows Explorer to get what you need. No mounting is necessary. This could be done whether your backup .PBD file consist of just one folder backup location or if you wanted to browse a complete system backup image. Therefore, you really wouldn’t need to mount a backup image as a drive although TBW does give you this ability as well. You can only mount full system backup image files. Once mounted, the image file would look to Explorer as if it was another physical hard drive connected to the system.
TBW 4.5 have a lot more going than what I wrote here! However, it’s not really possible to write about them all. Here are some other features that I think you should know about.
Convert Image to Virtual Disk
TBW allows you to take a system image you’ve created and convert it to a virtual hard disk which you could then mount either in VMware or Virtual PC for Windows. For example, in the beginning, I’ve created a full system backup of my Windows 8 machine. If I then convert this image to a VHD file, I can then create a new virtual machine in Virtual PC and load the VHD disk. The virtual machine would then behave like my Windows 8 computer complete with all my files and data.
Once again, no disk or backup utility would be complete without offering a way to easily clone your disk. This feature shouldn’t be needed on a daily basis but for those users who are either looking into upgrading their hard disk to a larger one or thinking about replacing their current drive for a new one due to imminent failure, cloning a disk can save you a lot of time. You can clone your current drive with Windows installed on it to your new drive. Once completed, you can then begin using the cloned drive from then on. TBW even gives you the option to optimize the clone if you’ll be cloning to a SSD hard drive.
You not only purchase a backup utility to back up your important files but to also have a peace of mind that you can actually restore those files when needed! TBW allows you to check your backup images to make sure that they can be correctly restored.
TBW gives you the extra ability to securely wipe a drive/partition so that data within it can not be easily recovered. Of course, there are many other utilities out there both free and paid that can also do this but it’s nice that TBW bundled this feature into the program as well so that casual users can take advantage of this without having to download anything extra.
Recover to Dissimilar Hardware
This feature will be a godsend for users who need to recover a system image to a different computer system. For example, if the system snapshot you’ve created on computer A completely crashes or malfunctions, you technically can rebuild a different system with different hardware and reapply that same system snapshot onto it.
In the End…
From my usage with TBW 4.5, I think it is a pretty solid all-in-one backup utility for the home users. It provides a ton of features that quite frankly most users wouldn’t even need. But at the core of it, their data backup and recovery feature is very easy to use like all good backup utilities should be and that is what counts the most. At the time of this writing, I was looking for a simple solution to completely revert a system back to a clean baseline image after a reboot. Although TBW does offer this capability, I couldn’t find a way to script this so that every time a reboot occurred it would automatically revert to a snapshot of my choice.
For $39, it is still a very competent backup utility and if you needed something more than what Windows offer by default, TBW 4.5 is a good candidate. On a busy system, taking advantage of incremental and differential backup methods can help save you a ton of time.