Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Genie Backup Software

For years I've been looking for good backup software for windows. To me, "good" means as close as possible to Time Machine on OSX. Specifically:

  1. Requires no interaction.
  2. Flexible about running a backup. It knows that the backup drive will come and go and the computer won't always be on or idle at the same time every day and runs the backup when the drive is present and the machine is idle. Incremental backup is helpful for this, but not necessary.
  3. If it is going to run when the system isn't idle, it mustn't kill performance for me.
  4. Makes it easy to back up and restore the whole computer.
  5. Backs up meta data like file creation times.
  6. Backs up and restores in a sane amount of time.
I've used various versions of Norton Ghost which has been the best I could find but didn't meet all the criteria. I also tried one of the recent Acronis programs which was pretty similar.

A question on superuser.com pointed me at the Genie tools. I bought Timeline Pro 2012 and I've tried it out for a couple of months. It beats Ghost in some categories and loses in others. Annoyingly, there are a whole bunch of stupid easy things that they do badly. I just hit a couple more of these and got so aggravated I had to write a post about it.

Here's my list of problems with Genie Timeline Pro 2012 and the company's site:

  1. Confusing products. There are 4 similar variants of the product and it's hard to figure out which to buy since they only compare 2 at a time in various pages on their site.
  2. The process to select what to back up sucks. It's optimized for only backing up some kinds of docs. Dumb. The default should be to back up the whole drive/computer. Figuring out how to do that is way too confusing. It's also unclear if it'll make duplicate back ups when selecting certain file types + whole computer. Eventually support me that I should only select disaster recovery and that will get everything.
  3. The initial backup of less than 500GB of data took days.
  4. Trying to restore the full computer backup took over 24 hours. At that point I gave up and killed it.
  5. I happened to look at their blog post for the end of 2012. It's negative, badly written, and has typos. (The irony of me complaining about their negativity in a negative post of my own isn't lost on me.)
  6. The order process sent me 3 emails. First I got 2 slightly different receipts. No key. I started signing up for an account to log into the site in the hopes of finding my key there when a 3rd email with the key showed up.

Since I hate to be (only) a hater, on the upside:
  1. Once it does the big initial backup, it only does incrementals, which are very fast.
  2. It didn't hurt performance much while running incrementals.
  3. The UI is nice and clean.
  4. It doesn't have a temper tantrum when I disconnect the backup drive. (Ghost pops up annoying notifications that the drive is missing.)
  5. There's a free trial.
  6. The restore tool is nice if you ignore it's speed: it's easy to pick what to restore and it restores file creation time.
Phew, I feel better having gotten that off my chest. Happy new year!!