capsule review

Rebit 5: Easy, Imperfect Automated Backup

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At a Glance
  • Rebit 5

Backing up is hard--not hard to do, but hard to get yourself to do. Rebit's strategy is to make the process so simple and attractive that you can't wait to fire off a backup. In keeping with this goal, Rebit 5's new interface is hands-down the finest ode to manipulating shape-consciousness I've ever seen in any backup program. Unfortunately, it has some thorns, too.

As part of its keep-things-simple mantra, Rebit 5 defaults to backing up your system partition--an operation you can't and shouldn't deselect--and then asks where you want to create the backup. That's it. You may add other partitions to the backup, but not individual files and folders. So if you have only a small data set to back up, look elsewhere. Backing up occurs continuously--that is, the program checks the file table for changes and backs these up every minute or so.

Besides the rejiggered interface, new features for version 5 include the ability to swap or rotate backup drives, so you can attach a different drive every other day or week without having the program squawk that the backup drive is missing. Also, the program now backs up concurrently to multiple destinations, including network locations.

Note: This review covers two encounters with the program, the original version 5.0.1035.10401 and the 5.0.1035.105120 update, which I received on February 18, 2011.

In my first hands-on session with Rebit 5, the free choice of destinations caused the program's bundled-on-an-external-hard-drive pedigree to trip it up. Sitting on an external hard drive that has plenty of room, a program can probably get away with not checking first to see whether a backup will fit--though it should do so anyway. But when allowing the user free rein in selecting a destination--a program must check for space.

Regrettably, Rebit didn't check--and running a destination drive out of free space can create all sorts of havoc. The fix in the latest version simply warns you that an undersize destination has "less than the minimum recommended space" and you may select the destination anyway. I don't know why the company doesn't take the obvious tack of not permitting users to try to back up to locations that can't hold the backup.

In my first encounter with the program, Rebit 5 also replaced drive icons with its own green frog, and the WebKit-based browser interface didn't always redraw pages immediately in response to changes in the program state. Both these bugs have been fixed.

Backing up to an external drive with plenty of free space, Rebit 5 worked perfectly. With its extended feature set, however, Rebit 5 is playing in the backup big leagues, where the competition includes such stalwarts as Acronis True Image Home 2011 and Symantec Norton Gost 15, and where flaws in a product's procedures or safeguards are unacceptable--even in a program that costs only $25. If you buy this program, make sure that it's the updated version 5.0.1035.10512 or newer. And for goodness sake, don't try to back up to a drive that doesn't have enough room to accommodate the backup.

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At a Glance
  • A stunning, easy-to-use interface makes automated backups viable. But safeguards and quality control were lacking in the initial release.


    • Great-looking interface
    • Extremely easy to set up and use


    • Doesn't stop backup to drives that lack the space
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