NTI Backup Now is a survivor in the local backup market. It’s been around for a long time, but it can perform impressively up-to-date tasks like continuously backing up document and image files as soon as you create or modify them—even when the backup app doesn’t appear to be running. When it performs traditional backup tasks, it does them in a reliable and easy-to-understand way. I would happily trust my data to it if more up-to-date programs weren’t also available.
NTI’s closest rival is probably Genie Backup Manager Home, which has a more up-to-date interface and a better set of convenience options, but NTI Backup Now stands out by combining conventional backups with its continuous-backup feature. (Genie offers a comparable feature in a single-purpose app called Genie Timeline Home—not yet tested—instead of combining it with the conventional backup features of Genie Backup Manager Home).
One thing to keep in mind when choosing a backup app is that NTI Backup and Genie Backup Manager Home are consumer-level products that lag behind powerhouse backup apps like Acronis Backup and Recovery and Paragon Backup & Recovery Home in one especially important way: neither of these consumer-level products can create emergency boot media on a flash drive, only on optical discs that may be useless if your up-to-date Ultrabook lacks an optical drive.
I tested NTI Backup Now 5.5 Advanced Edition, which ranks as “advanced” because it creates image backups of complete drives and includes the continuous-backup feature. The standard edition lacks these two features. Don’t look to the help file for information on multiple versions, because the help file refers to other versions that no longer exist, such as the shadowy-sounding “Shadow Edition.” The help file also has a curious sentence touting the app’s use of the “32-bit power of Windows 2000/XP/Vista”—as if 64-bit Windows and Windows 7 had never existed. Don’t worry much about the outdated help file; I tested NTI Backup Now with no problems under 64-bit Windows 7.
Installation runs smoothly, but you may want to turn off the options to install two optional components: a CD-label maker program and a drive tester. When I burn CDs I prefer a Sharpie pen to label-making software, and NTI’s drive tester was worse than useless on my system because it failed with an error message when I tried to test my boot partitions, apparently because of permissions problems with modern Windows setups. A less-than-knowledgeable user could easily panic when seeing those error messages. The installer prompts you to reboot before running the program.
The app performed speedily and reliably on all backup tasks that I tried, for example, taking two minutes 15 seconds to back up an 800 MB folder to a USB3 drive, slower than Acronis Backup & Recovery but faster than other backup software that I tested. What impressed me most was the app’s ability to create continuous backups of document types. So, for example, I could specify a folder on my disk (it defaults to the Documents folder) and tell the app to backup any document or media file that gets written to that folder. After launching the backup and exiting the program, hey presto—any document or media file that I created or modified got backed up automatically. An option setting in the app let me decided whether to save all versions of a file, a limited number of versions, or only the latest version.
Interface and Operation
I wasn’t impressed with NTI Backup’s interface, which doesn’t look like anything you’re familiar with. Instead of a wizard interface with big arrows or Next buttons to guide you along. You have to look at a button bar labeled “EasySteps” with a column of metallic-looking buttons labeled 1, 2, 3, and Start. To get from the first dialog to the second you must mouse over to the button column and click 2. The technology seems more suited to an elevator than an application.
Step 1 lets you decide what to back up—either continuous backups of specific file types, or traditional backups of specific files or folders or of whole drives. An option in a file-based backup lets you backup your “profile,” which means the contents of your desktop, your IE Favorites, or your Windows fonts—a distinctly strange selection of items. If you want to back up your Documents or Music folders, you’ll need to pick them out of a directory tree. If you choose to back up a whole drive, prepare to scratch your head over a tree-structured diagram of your drives and partitions that’s so badly designed that I had to study it closely to make sure I was picking out the drive I wanted.
Step 2 lets you choose a destination for your backup, which must be on a local drive, a writable optical disk, or a network drive. Step 3 lets you decide between a full or incremental backup. After you’ve created a job, you can run it or edit it from a tree-structured Job Management menu where you can run, delete, or modify an existing job.
NTI Backup’s list of supplementary tools includes that optional CD labeler and drive tester, and a low-value directory-comparison tool that produces a plain text file listing all the files in two directories, with notes on whether or not they match. A file-manager-style tool would be far more useful.
NTI Backup Now isn’t my first choice in today’s backup market—that honor goes to backup Editors’ Choice Acronis Backup and Recovery—but if you want a single package that combines continuous and standard backups, NTI may be your best choice. As with all the backup apps that I’ve tested, you can download and try it before you commit your data to it.
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|OS Compatibility||Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7|
|Type||Business, Personal, Professional|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc