capsule review

Personal Backup X4 10.4.5

Intego’s Personal Backup X4 10.4.5 has an unmistakably friendly interface that makes backups appear quite simple. Pick a backup type, choose your source and a destination, click a button, and you’re off. Behind this easy-to-use system is a full-featured backup application with some surprisingly advanced options—and also some surprising limitations.

The fundamental unit of work in Personal Backup X4 is a script, which includes a backup’s type, source, destination, schedule, and other options. Personal Backup X4 comes with several predefined scripts for immediate backup actions (just supply the source and destination), as well as scripts with predefined sources (your Documents, Music, and Pictures folders, for example). To customize a script, you can copy one of these existing scripts or use a built-in assistant to create your own from scratch.

The script types define overall behavior. The options are Backup (including incremental updates after the first full run), Synchronization (merging two volumes or folders so that each has the most recent version of every file), Clone (for bootable duplicates), Archive (to store files in a compressed disk image), and Move (to copy files in their original format, readable in the Finder, and delete the originals). The Synchronization type is rudimentary; it neither warns you nor offers any reconciliation options when a file has been modified in both source and destination.

Personal Backup X4 claims to be able to use the results of a Spotlight search as a source: enter search data and the program automatically backs up all files matching your search on each run. Unfortunately, I was unable to test this feature; every time I tried to enter a Spotlight search as a source, the application crashed.

When choosing a source or destination for your backups, you can select not only a mounted volume but even an unmounted network volume. Personal Backup X4 stores your user name and password, if you wish, and can automatically connect to AFP, FTP, SMB, and WebDAV servers when it’s time for a backup to run. In addition, Personal Backup X4 offers direct support for backing up to optical discs. Backups to CD or DVD can span multiple discs, and the program prompts you to insert additional media when needed.

When it comes to restoring files, Personal Backup X4 is weak. Restoration is merely a matter of selecting a source and a destination and then clicking a button, but the problem is that it’s all or nothing: you can’t choose to restore only certain files. Because you’re much more likely to want to restore only a portion of a backup than the whole thing, I consider this a significant flaw.

Macworld’s buying advice

Personal Backup X4 10.4.5 certainly contains some flashes of brilliance, such as extensive network server support and direct recording to optical discs, and for basic backup operations, it works well. But bugs and a poor restoration feature mar an otherwise attractive package.

[ Joe Kissell is senior editor of TidBITS and author of Real World Mac Maintenance and Backups (Peachpit, 2007). ]

The default view of Personal Backup X4’s window shows you scripts (predefined and user-created) at the top; source and destination below. Double-click the script to expand the window and show detailed options.
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