Sunday, August 05, 2007

MacBackup by MacXware


MacBackup is one of the backup programs sold at most Apple stores in spite of the fact it competes with Apple's own Backup software. Even though Retrospect was the industry leader, it's showing it's age since it was bought by EMC and never made the transition to the Intel Platform. Ironically, though, neither did MacBackup. It still runs in Rosetta, which concerns me regarding its long term viability on the Mac platform. A backup is only as good as your ability to restore it. If you can't read your backups, then they are no good. That happened to me with my old FastBack backups!

Unfortunately, MacBackup uses a proprietary backup format. In my book, that automatically marks it down one peg. If my computer dies, I don't want to have to use any particular software program to do the restore. I want it to be software independent! However, most backup programs do that, so let's not single out MacBackup.

MacBackup is extremely easy for non-technical people. The Easy Backup function lets you choose from Photos or Music and Movies. That's a bit too easy. Advanced includes the Address Book, Mail and Settings, Documents, Folders and Files, System Settings, and Other Items. For it to recognize your mail, it must be either Entourage or Apple Mail. It didn't pick up the fact I used Eudora, but hey who uses Eudora today? The searching for Photos, Music and Movies was very slow, as it had to search my entire hard drive. An option just to backup iPhoto would have made more sense, but some users don't always store things in the proper places, so that's both a bug and a feature in my book. One of the unique features of MacBackup is it's ability to backup to an FTP server. This is great for someone who might have a server at another location, or even use space on their ISP's server. FTP allows easy offsite backups which is always a good thing. Like all good backup programs, you can schedule backups on a repeating schedule.

Restoring files was just as easy as backing them up. Straightfoward, easy and generally worked. The Advanced function allowed you to choose which files to restore and where. That's important, because as stated earlier, if you can't restore, you are out of luck. If you do use MacBackup, be sure to make a copy of the program anywhere you store the backups, because you won't be able to restore without it.

The interface of the program was rough as it was clearly a Windows program rewritten for the Mac. Not a fatal flaw but a chip in the armor. That may also explain general buginess of the program. Buttons didn't always draw properly, forcing you to resize windows or quit the programs. Sometimes a function would take a few times before it would work - annoying at the very least. The latest update, version 1.2, was a bug fix that came out in April of 2006. No updates have been provided since then and it's still not Universal, which could cause issues on Intel based Macs.

Generally the program is better than not backing up at all, and considering it's sold at the Apple store, it's an easy purchase for people who don't use .mac. For the $30 price tag, it's easy on the pocketbook as well. Cheaper and easier to use than most of it's competitors but serious users might want to spend the extra money and get a program that is a bit more reliable and supported by its developer.

Pros: Generally easy to use, support for FTP backups
Cons: Unreliable interface, not updated for Intel Macs, backup format can't be read by other programs.

2 out of 5 dogcows