There’s certainly no shortage of personal backup utilities currently on the market with many offering a range of features that belie their low price tag. AlmerBackup from U.S. based AlmerSoft is the next to join this club and its bargain basement price makes it one of the lowest cost backup utilities we’ve yet seen. AlmerBackup is remarkably similar to Dantz’s new Disk-to-Disk for Windows (reviewed by Techworld) as it doesn’t support tape drives although you can back up to any storage device that Windows can assign a drive letter to. Consequently, AlmerBackup can use CD-R/RW drives, local or networked hard disks and other removable media such as MO (magneto-optical) or JAZ drives. Files selected for backup are stored in native format so they can be accessed using Windows Explorer if required. It also possesses other features that make it stand out as it supports network backup to an FTP server and it can also compress single and multiple file selections into ZIP files during backup. In fact, AlmerBackup offers a similar set of features to the equally well-priced Handy Backup from Novosoft (www.handybackup.com) although this disk-based product also allows 128-bit Blowfish encryption to be implemented – a feature AlmerBackup could benefit from as it allows for secure backups to FTP servers over the Internet. AlmerBackup supports the complete range of Windows platforms and installation literally takes a matter of seconds. Wizard-based help is at hand for creating backup jobs making this task very simple. After selecting the files to be secured, choose a destination from local or networked drives, FTP sites or CD-R/RW drives. The backup methods on offer are unusual as you use the standard mixture of full and incremental backup jobs but can opt to copy or move files to the destination. Two options are also provided for deleting files that are found in the destination but not in the source although we would recommend caution using these. A slider bar is used to determine the levels of ZIP compression and these files can also be password protected. The job can be run immediately or scheduled to start at regular intervals, you can fire up an application before and after each backup task and a handy test function allows you to check that your job will work correctly. The fifth type of job could prove handy as it watches source directories or files in real-time and backs them up to a destination folder on any of the supported media whenever it spots any changes. Revisioning is another useful option that allows you to maintain as many previous versions of files as you like in the destination folder and AlmerBackup also lets you choose the naming convention as well. Restore jobs are similarly easy to create as another wizard takes you through choosing a backup job, selecting the files to be restored and the destination they are to be copied to. Handy Backup scores better here as it offer a useful incremental option which only restores files that have changed since they were backed up. During testing we found AlmerBackup particularly easy to configure and use. We ran backups to USB-connected hard disks and also created an FTP site on a Windows Server 2003 system. Backing up 929MB of test data across a Gigabit Ethernet network returned a speedy 303Mbytes/min but beware of using ZIP compression. The same backup with this option activated with full compression selected saw transfer rates to our FTP server drop to 86Mbytes/min as each file is compressed locally before being sent to the destination. Overall, AlmerBackup is a smart little utility that delivers a useful range of features with support for remote backups to FTP servers allowing you to get your valuable data away from the local system to somewhere safe. It’s not as sophisticated as Dantz’ disk-based software and the lack of tape support is a drawback but at this price you can’t really argue. We would, however, recommend checking out Novosoft’s Handy Backup as it doesn’t cost much more and the support for backup encryption is a valuable feature.

OUR VERDICT

There is a wide range of personal backup products to choose from but AlmerBackup offers plenty of features at an unbelievably low price. You’ll always pay a premium for tape drive support in a backup product so if you don’t need it then utilities such as AlmerSoft will save you a fortune.