With so many users backing up to hard drives, it's a wonder EMC didn't start selling its easy-to-use Retrospect Express software sooner. Previously available only when bundled with Maxtor's OneTouch hard drives, Retrospect has received a mild overhaul and now has been released to stand on its own legs.

In contrast to the rather complex Professional version, Retrospect makes getting into a backup routine a simple process. Configure your backups via an attractive step-by-step wizard, then manage them using a system tray menu. Retrospect's keep-it-simple, set-it-and-forget-it philosophy quickly won us over. Even the least savvy PC users should have few problems using Express HD.

Many low-cost backup programs simply copy files, leaving the file structure intact for easy browsing using Windows Explorer. While Retrospect can do this, it defaults to a traditional approach of consolidating everything into a single compressed backup file. And although you'll have to reinstall the software to browse a compressed backup in the event disaster strikes, it does mean better security, easier internal cataloguing and more simpler on-demand restoration of files.

Schedule backups as much as once a day, then manage them in a timeline as restore points. The software even backs up open files. It can back up to multiple locations and older backups can be removed to make room for new ones.

Retrospect allows you to back up to network drives, although you lose out on a certain level of complexity that you get with the Pro version. For example, you can't tell the program to run different jobs at different times. Nonetheless, the ease of use alone more than makes up for this.

EMC Retrospect Express HD: Specs

  • 1GHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor
  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM (512MB recommended)
  • 500MB hard disk space (for backups)
  • 1GHz Intel Pentium or AMD Athlon processor
  • Microsoft Windows 2000/XP
  • 256MB RAM (512MB recommended)
  • 500MB hard disk space (for backups)

OUR VERDICT

Retrospect isn't cheap for a program that doesn't feature disaster recovery. However, for anyone who wants to back up their computer system with the minimum amount of fuss, this is undoubtedly an excellent program.

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