capsule review

BounceBack Pro 7.1

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BounceBack Pro 7.1, from CMS Products, is available either bundled with their ABSplus external hard drives or separately as stand-alone software. Either way, its focus is clear: making a bootable duplicate of your startup volume onto an external hard drive, and updating it every time the drive is plugged in.

After you install BounceBack Pro and perform the obligatory restart, a set-up assistant appears on-screen to guide you through setting up a backup. If you have an external hard drive attached and select the default options, the software creates a bootable duplicate onto that drive. If you don’t have an external drive, the default option is to store a duplicate of your user Documents folder. Instead of, or in addition to, a full system backup, you can choose specific files, folders, or volumes to back up; you can also manually exclude specific items from a backup. BounceBack Pro supports multiple backup sets—sets of files to be backed up, with associated destinations and schedules.

After an initial full backup, each subsequent backup is incremental, but not additive: if an old version of a file exists on the destination volume, it’s overwritten. Files deleted from the source, however, are not deleted from the destination, which can result in extra, unwanted files on your destination volume. Under some circumstances (such as after a system update), those extra files could potentially lead to serious problems, including an inability to boot from the backup drive. Although BounceBack Pro offers a manual Purge command to delete the extra files, it’s unintuitive to use. Providing an option to delete the files automatically would have been a wiser choice.

BounceBack Pro can use any mounted volume as the destination, but the program offers no direct support for optical discs. If you want to back up to CD or DVD, you must insert a blank disc, select the disc as the destination in BounceBack Pro, and be careful not to select more files than will fit on it. After BounceBack Pro runs, you can manually use the Burn Disc command to record the data to the disc.

Restoring a backup—in whole or in part—is straightforward. Click the Restore button, select the items you want to restore, and choose whether to copy them to their original location or a different location. Click Restore, and BounceBack Pro quickly copies the file(s) from the backup media.

BounceBack Pro now offers limited password protection (but not encryption) for backup drives. Turning on this feature, according to the company, activates a built-in password setting on supported hard drives, such that the drive’s contents cannot be read on any computer unless that computer has BounceBack Pro installed and the correct password is entered. I was unable to use the feature on either of my test drives—a 60GB BUSlink FireWire drive and a 500GB Western Digital My Book Pro (   ) drive with FireWire and USB 2.0 interfaces—because the drives did not appear in BounceBack Pro’s list of devices eligible for password protection.

The BounceBack installer creates a folder with nine applications, of which one—BounceBack Control Center—serves as a central launcher. However, several of the applications are designed to run only in the background, and it’s unclear which of these applications users should open in order to use the software. Although the Control Center was designed to integrate the functions of all the separate applications, it doesn’t go far enough—and in some ways makes matters worse because it puts yet another icon in that folder. Packaging all the components inside a single application bundle (a common practice for OS X applications) would have made the software easier to use. Even within BounceBack Control Center, the user interface is odd; a portion of the window acts as a series of embedded dialogs that walk you through various procedures, but I frequently found this arrangement confusing—I couldn’t easily figure out how to get from one action to another one or why some options were disabled at certain times.

Macworld’s buying advice

As a bundled utility to create bootable backups in combination with a CMS hard drive, BounceBack Pro 7.1 easily gets the job done. If you want to create bootable backups on other drives, though, tools like Carbon Copy Cloner (   ) and SuperDuper 2.1 (   ) are both cheaper and more capable. If you want to store your backups on optical media, you should consider a different program, such as EMC Insignia’s Retrospect Desktop or Intego’s Personal Backup. Both of these, along with Prosoft Engineering’s Data Backup, offer more-extensive backup features and generally provide a better value for your money.

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

The BounceBack Control Center serves as a launcher for most of BounceBack Pro’s included applications and features.
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