If you want to make regular backups of your entire computer, and want a program that’ll take care of it for you, BounceBack Professional might be exactly what you need. It’s designed to make full, automatic backups of your entire hard disk to an external disk or a second internal disk.
After you install BounceBack Professional and restart your Mac, the program opens and asks you to choose a backup disk. Each time you connect the selected disk, BounceBack Professional will start backing up your startup disk automatically. If you forget to connect your backup disk for more than a few days, the program will remind you to do so. You can then connect the disk and start backing up, or just ignore the reminder.
No matter what medium you use, your first backup will take some time: on a test system with a minimal installation of Panther (about 6GB), BounceBack Professional took 45 minutes to perform its initial backup. If you have a lot of files, especially music files, photos, and videos—which take up a lot of disk space—expect your first backup to take longer. Subsequent backups are much faster, though, because the program copies only files that have changed since the previous session.
With BounceBack Professional, you’re not limited to backing up your entire startup volume. You can also create custom backup sets from single or multiple sources, and then run these backups manually or automatically. Unfortunately, the program’s manual offers only sketchy instructions on how to set up custom backups; some users will find the process complicated.
If you’ve had disk problems and can’t boot from your startup volume, you can start up your Mac from the backup. The BounceBack Restore subprogram can recopy all your files from the backup disk to your Mac if necessary, so you’ll be able to start up your Mac normally without having to reinstall anything.
You can access individual files in your backup in several ways. BounceBack Professional copies files in their original format, retaining all permissions, so you can simply mount your external hard drive and navigate to the file you need. You can also use the BounceBack Restore program, in which case you select the files you want to restore, and then click on Restore to copy them back to your startup volume, either in their original location or in a different folder.
Although using BounceBack Professional to make a bootable backup is relatively easy, other operations can be complicated. The software itself is confusing, with a total of seven subprograms—including BounceBack Restore, BounceBack Settings, and BounceBack Backup. Each is responsible for a specific task. It would be nicer to have all these functions behind a single interface—especially since you’ll never use some of them in normal operation.
Another weakness is that BounceBack Professional works only with the user account that installed the software. If you have multiple user accounts, the administrator will generally handle full backups of the startup volume, but other users cannot run custom backups—which they should be able to do—unless you reinstall the software under their accounts.
Macworld’s Buying Advice
The best use for BounceBack Professional is to back up an entire startup volume automatically. Its other backup functions, although they’re powerful and flexible, are not easy to use and may confuse many users. And setting up BounceBack Professional in multiuser installations is unnecessarily complicated.
You can restore files individually using the BounceBack Restore subprogram.