Backing up may be hard to do, and a quarter of PC users never backup, but Roxio BackOnTrack 3.0 aims to ensure that you have all the tools you need to save your data in the event of disaster.

It is true that Microsoft’s NT file system (NTFS) does do a much better job of maintaining the integrity of data on your hard drive, and system crashes are much rarer these days. But a report from Carnegie Mellon University earlier this year said that hard drive failure is actually a lot higher than manufacturers claim: as much as 13 percent per year for some models. So you may need more than System Restore to protect your files, and Roxio BackOnTrack 3.0 is one of the most comprehensive packages around.

There are three main components to Roxio BackOnTrack 3.0: Instant Restore (a beefed-up version of Windows System Restore), File Backup (to preserve individual documents), and Disaster Recovery.

Instant Restore is likely to be the most valuable as, like the built-in utility in XP and Vista, it can return your PC to an earlier state with a single mouse-click. One virtue of Roxio BackOnTrack 3.0 over System Restore is that it can work even if Windows crashes, even without a boot disk.

File Backup is pretty standard, but simple to use, providing the ability to specify individual documents and folders to backup to an external device such as a CD/DVD drive or firewire/USB hard drive. Roxio BackOnTrack 3.0 Backups can be scheduled and allocated to particular categories (such as photos or music) for convenience. One very useful addition is the ability to encrypt backups to prevent unwanted access.

Roxio BackOnTrack 3.0's final component, Disaster Recovery, uses disk-imaging technology to create a backup of the entire PC which, as with alternatives such as TrueImage and Ghost, can back up and restore without requiring a system restart. The wizard interface to create and restore partitions and drives is simple and straightforward, again comparable to backup applications from Acronis and Symantec.


The capabilities of this suite are pretty impressive, especially the enhanced system recovery tool, Instant Restore, which offers much more control than the utilities built into Windows and sets it apart from rivals. There is a slightly stripped down version of BackOnTrack that is £10 cheaper, but as this consists of File Backup and Disaster Recovery, it is genuinely less useful.