Backup to DVD
: Ten Software Features You Need "> Backup to DVD: Ten Software Features You Need Because of the large capacities of DVDs, DVD burners are tempting alternatives to tape or CD-RW drives for backups. But youll need some software to ease the task. Backup NOW! 3 Deluxe, from NewTech Infosystems ($79.99 list Check Prices, www.ntius.com), stands out as a particularly easy-to-use utility. Dantz Retrospect Pro ($129 list Check Prices, www.dantz.com) and Veritas
Backup MyPC ($79 list Check Prices, www.veritas.com) are also strong contenders.
Heres an outline of the features you should look for when shopping for a backup program.
Device support. This may sound obvious, but make sure the program supports your DVD drive. Optimally, your backup software should support all DVD formats. Some programs include support for CD, magneto-optical, Jaz, Zip, and network drives, too.
Software support. Find out if the publisher makes free driver updates available as new recorder models are released. Make sure you understand the vendors tech-support policy.
Incremental and differential backup capabilities. Full backups are necessary, but take too much time to do every day. Once you have made a full backup for the week, say, your software should be able to back up just the files that have changed each day.
Image backup. The software should be able to back up everything as one large file thats a bit-for-bit duplicate (an image) of your hard drive.
Bootable disk support. Your software should be able to create a bootable disc to ensure recovery in case of a system crash. Although you can make bootable floppy disks even for Windows 2000 and XP, using the backup software to create the bootable disc makes recovery and restoration easier, because the boot routine will be specific to the backup program.
Automatic backup scheduling. You shouldnt have to be around to make backups. Simply set the backup schedule and let it run when the machine is not in use.
Password protection. For security, the software should let you password-protect your backup discs so even a stolen set cannot be restored.
Disc spanning. The program should be able to spread a large backup over several discs. With 40GB, 60GB, and 80GB drives common, even a 4.7GB DVD may not be enough to hold a full backup of your hard drive.
Data compression. Depending on file type, the software should be able to squeeze the raw data 30 to 40 percent and even more in some cases. This should be an option, though; not everybody is comfortable with compressed files.
Drive spanning. This is a useful but not necessary feature. It lets you back up to multiple recordable drives if you have them. Using three or four DVD-RW drives, for example, you can make a spanned disc set without having to change media in mid-backup.
Bob Starrett is a freelance writer and consultant who has coauthored five books on CD technology.