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12Ghosts Backup

Automatic Backups, HyperBackup for Multiple Versions


ZDNet Editor's Pick

"Ongoing Safety" - Review by Margaret Blauvelt

See also: Planning a Backup - Tips & Tricks

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What does it do for me?

Backing up data is mandatory. Just imagine you would lose all your work, all e-mails of the last two weeks: What is that worth to you? If backups were difficult, however, you wouldn't do them often enough. 12-Backup makes it easy because everything is done automatically. All you need to do is add files to a list. The program then does the backup at a user-defined interval. You may exclude temporary files to save time, and you are not bothered with locked files: they are included the next time automatically.

Besides doing normal backups, a special piece of engineering is Hyper-Backup: It keeps every change of your documents, creating several layers of backups, again, automatically, while you are working. HyperBackup automatically stores multiple versions of your files and applies a reasonable filter to keep versions of every stage. This stores more versions in a more sophisticated way than any other backup program, while requiring only a modest amount of disk space.

The software is carefully designed, well documented, and gives you all the options you would expect.




Full Backup

This is the most common way of doing backups. You create a copy of all important files to a backup location. To keep the backup process fast, so you actually keep doing it regularly, only add folders to your backup that contain files you work on frequently, like the My Documents folder.

The fastest backup would be to a second disk drive. Once you've done a full backup, most of the files are already there. From then on, only files that have been changed or are newer than those already in the backup are backed up. (This is also referred to as "incremental backup" which usually depends on the Archive attribute, whereas 12-Backup is based on the date modified).

The backup location may be on the same disk as the original, but to enhance security it should be a second disk drive. A new 40 GB disk costs only about $65. It is the fastest and easiest method to always have a full backup of your important data. Since it's faster and always available it is also more likely that you are actually doing a backup!

Now add files or folders you would like to backup regularly to the list in the first tab Full Backup using the Add or New buttons. Set Backup every, for example, to 15 minutes. Since this only runs during idle time it doesn't use any processor resources. You may notice disk access, though, while 12-Backup compares Modified dates. When ready, 12-Backup displays the number of files backed up at the bottom of the dialog.

You may enable Backup before shut down or logoff to make sure your data is secured every time before you leave your computer. If you use our more powerful 12-ShutDown to start programs before shut down you should enable Backup there, and disable this option here.

You may use the parameter /backup to start the normal backup at a certain time, for example from 12-Timer, Task Scheduler, or a batch file.



In the second tab HyperBackup you may add files that are secured in four levels. This creates multiple copies of each change of your files. Depending on how often you work with a particular document, more or less versions are kept, based on age.

HyperBackup creates one version per minute for one hour, one version every hour during one day's time, one version every day for the last month, and finally one version per month. This way it keeps a history of changes but requires only moderate disk space. A technology is used that does not require any processor resources while waiting for changes. Hence, most of the time 12-Backup just sits there, doing nothing. And even while backing up it does not block other applications because it runs in idle time, that is, when the processor has nothing else to do.

The more files you add to 12-Backup, the longer it takes to compare file dates, and to create new versions, though. This may add up. If this takes more than one or two seconds, it is advisable to raise the Stabilization Time (see Options in the HyperBackup tab) to 5 or 10 seconds. This is the time 12-Backup waits after a change before new backups are being made.


Backup regularly

Imagine you lose all your files, or your disk drive crashes, and you hadn't made a backup. "Hey, the other backup disk was full; I didn't want to get up just for this..."

Every day in the week (really!) we receive e-mails from customers requesting a copy of their license because the drive crashed, got a virus, or had to be formatted due to a user mistake. It happens a lot from our point of view! It may be only one out of a thousand, but what if it is you...?

Do a backup every time after you changed or created new documents. If your work relies on e-mails and you answer 5 emails a day, you would lose 70 emails after two weeks. "My backup is so slow and cumbersome, I only start it every two weeks..." Better safe than sorry! Worst case is that you lose your work since the last backup. What is that worth to you? Better get a second disk drive and have a fast backup made every 15 minutes, automatically, with 12-Backup.


Backup To...

You may also backup to a removable media from time to time, like a USB memory stick, ZIP drive, or a CD-R. You may want to take data with you or save a copy outside of the building at a save place. Click on the button To... to select the target drive and the age of files to backup. You will see the amount of disk space required according to your selection.

Doing backups over backups could lead to an error being backed up, too, again and again. Imagine a virus destroys part of your data, then you backup the destroyed data over your old backups, and you notice it only much later. Even with four different backup disks made once a week all your data may be gone... Store away one disk once a month, at least. Always make more backups than you think are necessary!

For a CD-R to work you need a driver that enables your CD-R to write to using a drive letter. Most CD-R drives come with such a driver, for example "DirectCD" from Adaptec/Roxio.


See also: Planning a Backup - Tips & Tricks


"The principle of HyperBackup is brilliant." PC-Online, testing 27 backup tools with 12-Backup being one of seven recommended.


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