File backup is essential for all PCs and laptops, but is implemented by only 10 percent of people on a daily basis (Harris:Backblaze, June 2012). It needn't be a pain to do, either, thanks to programs such as O&O DiskImage 7 Professional. This application is designed to handle both system and file backup, so can be used to secure a whole PC, individual drives or partitions, or selected folders and files.See also: Group test: what's the best backup software?
O&O DiskImage 7 Professional is quite a discreet application, all contained in a single, small control panel. The easiest way in is via the four options on the start page, which cover full and incremental system image copies, file backup, and restoration of an image. They lead on to separate screens, rather than the step-by-step wizards you might expect.
The full system copy page shows details of the drives available for backing up as an icon tree and as the kind of drive diagrams often seen in partitioning software. Pick the source drive or partition and click on ‘Start drive imaging' – rather unintuitively – to pick the destination for the archive.
Starting a file copy is even more minimalis in O&O DiskImage 7 Professional: you're shown a screen offering just the icon for the entire computer and have to drill down to the folders and files that need copying. A simple scheduler is included for your backup jobs, which enables automatic daily or weekly copying at specified times. Backups can be full, incremental or differential.
O&O DiskImage 7 Professional vs Acronis TrueImage 2013: performance tests
The program performs many of the same functions as Acronis True Image Home 2013, so it's worthwhile comparing the two products on performance. A full drive backup of a 50GB basket of files took 1 hour 23 minutes under O&O DiskImage 7 Professional, but only 26 minutes using the Acronis product.
TrueImage 2013 took 1 hr 2 mins to create a file backup of the same basket, while this application took over 8 hours, so would be an overnight job.
Although O&O DiskImage 7 Professional compresses the files to save space, this seems slow, given copying the files under Windows 7 took 25 minutes and zipping them added only another 90 minutes.
There's an argument that you should keep your backups as simple as possible, without compression or encryption, as you're removing layers of processing which could cause recovery problems in themselves. With storage space now very cheap, straight copies of files are often the best solution, though it doesn't appear compression can be turned off here.
File backups can be accessed with compression tools like WinZip, as well as with DiskImage 7 Professional itself, though not using Windows' own Zip-reading abilities.
O&O doesn't offer online storage to partner DiskImage 7 Professional – though there are plenty of third parties who can provide this – and no non-stop backup, which creates copies in real-time.
It does support copying to external and network drives, though, and can create ISO images which can be burnt to CDs or DVDs.
An image can be restored to dissimilar hardware, too, after replacing or upgrading a machine, though as with other backup tools, it won't get you around Microsoft's Windows licence restrictions.