capsule review

BounceBack Essential

At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder BounceBack Essential

There's something about maintaining a complete and up-to-date copy of your entire operating system and software installation that brings you peace of mind. In that regard, CMS's BounceBack Essential 9.1 calms your soul, and does so flawlessly with as little user intervention as possible.

Note that the software I tested bore the name BounceBack Essential, but you'll also see BounceBack CDP or Instant PC Recovery depending on where you look (the company has a penchant for multiple labels). BounceBack Essential is a $29 subset of the company's BounceBack Ultimate software. The Ultimate package--which offers additional features such as encryption, multiple destinations, and point-in-time recovery--costs $69. Essentials keeps only the current version of any file in one location--in effect, mirroring your main system, much like a RAID setup. Essentials requires a dedicated drive with enough room for all your data to perform its magic.

Installing BounceBack Essentials is easy, requiring only a few clicks and correctly entering a serial number. The installer leaves an icon on the Windows Desktop called BounceBack Setup which invokes the initial backup where you select a drive to back up to. After you've made your selection, the software partitions it, renders it bootable, and copies your PC's contents onto it.

Once the initial backup is finished, simply leave BounceBack running in the background and adjust the continuous data protection to taste. BounceBack can be set to save changes at anywhere from 1-minute to 60-minute intervals. While 1 minute may sound like the best option, if you're hit by spyware or some such, the short interval may allow BounceBack to copy the offending files to the backup drive before you even realize there's a problem. Under most circumstances you should leave it set to 15 minutes or more (BounceBack defaults to 60).

The BounceBack backup is actually less prone to malware than the mirrored array it mimics, as it copies the Registry only once a day unless you invoke an incremental backup manually. Since a lot of malware creates a way to launch by altering the Registry, restoring the Registry removes any entries the malware wrote (shutting off your PC by pulling the plug keeps Windows from saving the hacked Registry in the first place).

BounceBack Essential allows you to boot from the drive it's backing up to if your main installation fails--a great feature that allows you to keep on working when you're on a deadline. When you're finished, you may restore your system wholesale--but you can also browse the backup drive to copy files off piecemeal, since the backup is file-based. The software worked perfectly, restoring my PC with a minimum of fuss.

BounceBack Essential combines the strengths of imaging, file-based backup, and RAID mirroring, and sidesteps most of the disadvantages of these other methods. It's quite possibly the best $30 backup solution on the market.

--Jon L. Jacobi

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At a Glance
  • Generic Company Place Holder BounceBack Essential

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