BackupBuddy for Windows and BackupBuddy VFS

by PocketGoddess on November 12, 2004

BackupBuddy for Windows

If you’ve been using a handheld for any length of time, you already know that BackupBuddy is one of those “must have” pieces of software. Sure, you can use a utility like Filez to go through each file on your device and make sure the backup bit is set correctly to back up the file during HotSync, but who has the time for that? I’m squarely in the “set it and forget it” camp, and BackupBuddy was the second piece of software I bought for my very first handheld, the venerable Palm IIIx. And it’s certainly saved me more times than I can count over the years–I’ve most likely had more than my fair share of crashes and failures. But that’s because I’ve tested so much alpha/beta pre-release software, loaded up my devices unmercifully, and generally abused them in my quest to inform handheld users through fair & honest reviews. If you haven’t been around all that long, stick around just a little bit longer and you’ll soon see why you need BackupBuddy for the ultimate peace of mind.

BackupBuddy has been around for forever, but the new version 2.0 released a few months ago simply blew me away. The interface has been completely redesigned, and though it can seem a little overwhelming at first, it’s much easier to use than before. That’s quite an accomplishment, considering the new features that have been added. There are several, but they all center around the idea of control. Now you have the ability to “ZoomBack” to the handheld’s previous state if a newly installed application causes major problems. That’s pretty nifty, but BackupBuddy is smart enough to know that if you do ZoomBack, you don’t want to overwrite the PIM databases on your handheld, because they should always be as up to date as possible. You can also choose to exclude certain applications and/or databases if you like, which is a great option for fans of Pocket TV Browser. I use XMLTV to get 14 days of listings on my Tapwave Zodiac, which is great– but the file is easily replaceable in the event of a crash and is over 2MB, which could really slow down HotSync operations. I simply excluded it from backup, saving time and space. I especially like the fact that when I mark things for exclusion, I can do just that individual file or the application and the related databases.

There’s more, of course. One of my favorites is the ability to back up memory cards, which works flawlessly. By default BackupBuddy does not back up MP3 files on memory expansion cards, which makes perfect sense. You can change that if you wish, or add additional exclusions by filename suffix; I excluded all of the ZIP files I carry on my memory cards, for example. And it didn’t have any problem at all with the fact that I have two different cards in my Tapwave Zodiac. The card backups were nicely categorized, by card name, so it was easy to find everything. I will warn you though; the first full backup after you install BackupBuddy for Windows will take forever–just go get some coffee, or a bagel, or a four course meal. . . . After that things will go along much more speedily, as only the files and applications that have changed will actually need to be backed up. And if you’re ever in a real hurry, the dialog box that pops up during every HotSync gives you the option to cancel the backup or to turn off the backup of memory expansion cards just once, so things go more quickly when you don’t have much time.

There’s a Mac version too, though BackupBuddy does notsupport Mac OS X or Palm OS 5 devices used with a Mac. A single license costs $29.95, or you can get a full family license for only $39.95, which is great for families that have more than one Palm OS device in the household syncing to the same computer. You can also get special deals if you purchase BackupBuddy in a bundle with the VFS version, reviewed below. For more information or online purchase, visit the Blue Nomad web site.

PocketGoddess Rating for BackupBuddy for Windows: 5 out of 5

BackupBuddy VFS Professional

BackupBuddy VFS Professional is the “cousin” of BackupBuddy for Windows that resides solely on your Palm OS handheld device; it serves to back up all of your crucial files to a memory expansion card plugged into the device’s slot. You may wonder why you need this kind of protection, but I guarantee that you’ll wonder why you didn’t get it if your device ever crashes in the middle of a week-long business trip! The VFS version of BackupBuddy is great for proectecting yourself from data loss while you’re on the go– business trips, long weekends, etc. Obviously it won’t protect you from the loss or theft of your handheld, but it can make sure that if a file gets corrupted or you accidentally delete something you won’t be completely out of luck until you can get back to your computer and sync.

The application has two modes, basic and advanced. Basic is about as easy as it gets– just push the big button in the middle of the screen to back up all of your device’s files to a memory card. If you’re like me you might prefer advanced mode, which allows you to tweak things to your heart’s content–you can create your own backup set, choosing only the most important files, or you can choose to backup all of the files except a few here and there, such as the Pocket TV Browser database I mentioned earlier. It’s completely up to you and what your usage levels dictate. Whether you use basic or advanced mode, however, you stil have some preferences that you can set. You can compress your backup files, either “quickly” or “thoroughly” and you can also schedule daily backups to happen at a certain time, or after each HotSync operation. You can also encrypt your backup files, which is a really good idea– why bother to lock your device if the person who stole it can read all of your backup files?

Restoration of your backups is as trouble-free as you could possibly want– just press the button at the bottom of the screen to restore the entire device, or use the menu option in advanced mode to select certain files or applications to restore. It doesn’t get any more simple than that. BackupBuddy VFS Professional does just about everything I could ask, and while it doesn’t allow for the option to create multiple daily backups I requested that feature and the developer added it to the wish list for a future release. The advanced interface isn’t as “pretty” as some of the other applications I’ve reviewed, but that was the only slight negative I could find in an otherwise excellent program. I recommend it highly. You can get it for yourself for $19.95, or get the slightly “slimmed down” personal version for $9.95 at the Blue Nomad web site.

PocketGoddess Rating for BackupBuddy VFS Professional: 4.5 out of 5

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