O&O AutoBackup Does One Thing Well...But Is One Thing Enough?
At a Glance
O&O AutoBackup (free in January 2012; $30 with a 30-day free trial starting in February 2012) is a generally easy-to-use backup program with one feature especially handy for frequent users of external drives. It will back up any data you choose, automatically, without user intervention, when you insert a removable drive you've defined as the repository for your backup. That's a neat trick, but the program is otherwise limited in ability, suffers a number of design oversights, and occasionally employs unexplained and possibly confusing language.
AutoBackup needs scheduling and/or continuous backup. Many users I know attach their backup drives in the morning and store them at night. If that's your practice, you must manually run a backup (possibly a time-consuming task) before you remove the drive at night to make sure the latest data is on there. Also, the program would be more useful overall if it allowed a secondary backup location and backing up to an internal drive.
As to the design oversights, O&O AutoBackup did not understand the abstraction of Windows libraries such as Documents, which points to both My Documents and Public Documents. You need to explicitly select a directory such as My Documents. Also, the drop-down menu from which you select a destination drive doesn't expand after the refresh button is clicked. I had to click on tiny arrows to scroll to the newly added drives. Showing all drives in the list is such common behavior that initially I thought AutoBackup had not found the new drives.
In addition to regular and incremental backups, AutoBackup can perform a synchronization which updates the backup with the current state of the source locations. However, the program doesn't explicitly state its methodology as I just did. Synchronization can mean one-way in either direction between two linked locations, or a two-way process reflecting the changes in both locations based on the date of occurrence. Call me paranoid, but when I see the word synchronization, I want a concise explanation of what a program is actually going to do.
O&O produces some great software programs (such as O&O DiskImage) and AutoBackup has the potential to join that company. For anyone who wants to simply insert a drive, back up and remove it, it works well…but it's a one-trick pony that won't cover everyone's needs. O&O AutoBackup is free during January 2012, but $30 after a 30-day free trial beginning in February.
Note: The link takes you to the vendor's page, where you can download the software.
--Jon L. Jacobi