Backbaze Backup claim to be “the world’s easiest cloud backup” and offer unlimited cloud backup for as little as $5 per computer per month. Backing up all of you files and external hard drives is enabled by default!
Ashampoo Backup Pro 15
With Backup Pro 15, Ashampoo have refined an already market leading backup application making it even more user friendly, stable and operable than ever before.
Whilst it would be fair to say that version 15 is not a massive overhaul, it would also be fair to say such an overhaul isn’t currently needed within the Backup Pro line of software. When I tested version 14 last year I was impressed by the level of functionality on offer for local backups alongside the excellent support which is included for cloud backups, this includes support for all many major cloud storage provides directly from within the application itself.
All of the useful features including image backups, encryption, compression and the ability to mount backups as virtual drives during restore operations are retained in version 15 whilst the new user interface helps bring all of this functionality together like never before. Whilst it is true there are few completely new features available in this new version the software is now easier than ever to use and offers unrivalled performance and stability given the functionality which is available.
So far Backup Pro 15 sounds like another winning backup solution form Ashampoo, let’s go and take a look!
- (New) Updated and easy to use interface
- (New) Updated and extended cloud support
- (New) Pre-set backup plans (ready to use)
- (New) Better stability & performance
- Well designed, reliable and easy to use
- Powerful scheduling engine and one-click backup support
- Perform disk, partition and full system image backups
- Unlimited file versioning (historic versions)
- Incremental file and image backups help save disk space and backup time
- Easy recovery options (including mounting entire backups as virtual drives)
- Built-in (UEFI) system recovery tools
- Free email backup reports (free Ashampoo account required)
- Extensive cloud storage support (Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive etc.)
- Automatic SMART monitoring ensures storage disks are kept safe
- Full, zero knowledge encryption support (AES 256bit encryption supported)
- Ability to choose compression & encryption methods
- A great value, feature packed backup solution for virtually any PC user
New Features of Ashampoo Backup Pro 15
Building on the solid foundation left behind by version 14, Ashampoo backup Pro 15 brings even more innovation to the forefront alongside a whole host of new and refined features and improved functionality.
One of the biggest changes in version 15 comes with the new user interface, whilst Ashampoo software has always been easy to operate this new approach now brings all commonly used functionality within just a couple of clicks of the homepage. This new interface now makes navigating the software not only simple but also stress free and easy to get done what you need to.
With the new user interface aside, Ashampoo, have made many small enhancements behind the scenes, these include uprated cloud support, pre-set backup plans, easy to view backup overviews among many other small improvements.
Installing Ashampoo Backup Pro 15
As with all Ashampoo software the installation of Backup Pro 15 was both quick and easy. The installer itself can be obtained from the <Backup Pro 15 webpage> thanks to the free trial which is available and at just under 93MB can be downloaded and ready to run in just a few moments.
Once the installer is running the whole installation was very straightforward, default settings will be suitable for the majority of users and as such the installation was complete and the software ready to go in about 2 minutes or so (on my moderate specification PC).
At this point, before getting started with Backup Pro 15, we are required to to register the software or alternatively take advantage of the 10 day free trial which comes with all Ashampoo software. If you do want to trial the software first please be aware that registering for an account with Ashampoo will automatically extend his trial period from 10 to 30 days.
Once the software is registered (or a trial set-up) we can get into using the software straight away thanks to the main dashboard being available immediately after registration. I will look at the functionality of the software and taking our first backup in the next section of this review!
Backing up within Ashampoo Backup Pro 15
Backup Pro 15 allows us to create backups both locally using devices such as external hard drives in addition to one of the many supported cloud drives integrated into the application (these includes Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Dropbox and many others).
In this section I will be looking a some of the local backup functionality and covering the file-level and image based backup options, in the next section I will look deeper into the cloud based offerings.
We can create a new backup really easily using Backup Pro 15, simply click on the “Create a new backup plan” button found on the application dashboard to get started.
Once we start configuring our new backup plan, on the next screen, we can pick the storage location for our new backup to be saved to. As can be seen below, it is really simple to select a locally attached device (at the very top) or one of the many cloud storage options on offer below it.
After electing to use a locally attached storage device we can then specify which locally attached device to use and what name to name the folder used by Ashampoo for storing our data within.
After completing the above steps we can now name our new backup plan, this can be a new name for a new plan or alternatively an existing plan which we can use as a template. Both of these options can be seen below (I am going to create a new plan for now).
After electing to create a new backup plan we can press next to continue the set-up, before going on any further I think this is a good place to point out that we can make as many backup plans (or “backup sets”) as we like using Backup Pro 15. This is a useful option to have as it could, for example, allow us to take an incremental image backup at the end of every weekday and take smaller, hourly, file-level backups to the cloud during the day (and any other backups we like in-between).This is ideal for those wanting complete control over their (potentially complex) backup needs!
The next screen, as can be seen below, is where Backup Pro 15 starts to help us out a little with the creation of backup sets. We can elect to configure the set ourselves from scratch or alternatively use one of the two pre-built plans provided to us by Ashampoo.
For the purposes of this review I will be creating my own plan to help highlight the full range of options we have available. The first of these options is selecting whether to make an image backup which will protect our data and Windows system or use file-level protection to protect only our personal files.
As can be seen in the screen above, Ashampoo make it easy to see at a glance the main differences between file level and image based backups, for this section of the review I will be looking at image based backups so I will select this option now and move on to the next screen.
Next, as per the screen shot above, we must tell Backup Pro 15 which disk drives to include in our image based backup (you will probably want to exclude your drive which is being used to store the backups on). After doing this clicking next will take us to the password protection screen where we can (optionally) set a password to protect our data with.
After setting the password we will also be asked to compress the backup, for most use cases this is recommended and after selecting the relevant box we can move on to the next screen where we can configure versioning settings (historic versions).
As can be seen above, Ashampoo is, by default, set to give us access to 28 old versions of our backup. This can be changed on this screen with a larger number (say 365 days for example) giving us access to approx. 1 year of file history, assuming we backup once per day.
This screen also allows us to choose the backup methodology, this can be the (default) infinite incremental backup method where a single full backup is made or the (more traditional) incremental chain whereby full backups are made at specified intervals.
The infinite incremental option is a great choice for those who don’t need really long retention / versioning periods and want to achieve a faster backup wherever possible. The second choice to make full backups at set intervals is a safer choice, especially for those keeping long file versioning histories, although this does come at the cost of needing more disk space and slower backups.
Next, we can specify how often the backup is to be run using the excellent shampoo scheduling tool (this is the same one as used in Ashampoo Backup 2020 which I have also recently tested). Schedules can be as simple as being once per day at a set time, once every week or as many times in a day as you like thanks to the advanced option as is shown below.
Whilst this scheduling tool works very well I would personally like to see Ashampoo include a few more options into the mix here, for example a “real-time” button which performs back-ups, say, every 15 mins or an “hourly” button for those wanting a backup every hour throughout the time their PC is being used. But this just an opinion of course, moving on with the review we next come across the choice of how to handle missed backups (basically we can ignore them or run them as soon as the PC is turned back on again), the power settings (applicable to laptops on battery power) and then eventually the verification settings screen.
Verifying backups is a key (yet often misunderstood) factor in making safe your valuable data, by letting the software check the backup has worked correctly we can significantly reduce the risk of having a backup which is showing as good but in reality is corrupt and unusable. As such I will turn automatic verification on (and recommend you also do the same since piece of mind is worth the small additional time needed to verify a backup).
NB – just a quick note here, whilst I recommend you leave automatic verification on I also suggest still regularly restoring test files from your backups to ensure they actually work for real. Even verification routines can fail so please do a real restore test every now and then!
Next, we will be asked how many backup reports to keep (I have just left this on the default of 27) and then asked if we want to receive reports via email. Whilst this requires you have an Ashampoo account to use, the email reporting is a fantastic addition, especially given this software is a one off purchase (not a subscription) meaning Ashampoo really are providing this for free to their users, great work!
After electing to receive email reports (or not) we will be presented with a backup summary screen showing the full configuration details of our new backup plan.
Whilst this might seem a little long winded, there are two important things to remember here. Number one being that Backup Pro 15 gives us a very high degree of control over all parts of the backup plan. Number two being that (if you remember backup to starting the backup plan) we can actually re-use this plan in the future if we need to set up and more (similar) backup sets, as such once we have things set-up as we like the process of creating future will be much easier.
Now our new backup plan has been created we can see details of it (and all other plans we have created) using the new backup plans screen.
This new screen (as can be above) is part of the Backup Pro 15 user interface design overhaul which makes seeing the status of and editing all currently configured backup sets on the PC really easy.
File-Level Backups within Backup Pro 15
In the last section I created a new image based backup from scratch, image backups of course are beneficial in that they allow us to easily ensure we are no only protecting all applicable data but also protecting the Windows system itself. Thanks to image backups we can recover our entire PC to how it was at an earlier time if we need to, useful if encountering problems with faulty hardware or as a result of a Windows backup or virus issue.
Whilst image backups are, indeed, great, file-level backups also have their merits and allow for quicker more disk space friendly backups at the expense of the imaging features mentioned above.
Thanks to Backup Pro 15 supporting multiple backup sets we can have both file-level and image based backups running on our PC simultaneously. This means, for example, we could protect our Windows system with a weekly image backup to an external hard drive and protect our important files with an incremental backup to the cloud every hour.
The process for configuring either of these options is very similar, given that I have covered creating a new backup set in detail in the previous section so in the section I will be focusing only on the main differences here.
When configuring a file based backup the key difference is that we need to select the “Individual files / folders” option when asked what we wish to backup, this is highlighted below:
It is important to note that after selecting this we will have some more options to configure relating specifically to file-level backups, the first of these is the backup storage format.
As can be seen above, we can choose to store our file-level backups in the most storage-efficient way at the cost of them being accessible only through the Ashampoo software. This option also allows us more control over the type of encryption and compression algorithms which the application uses to secure and compress our backups.
Alternatively we can select to make the backup more accessible, this option allows us to mount any backup as a Windows drive to make exploring the contents of the backup quick and easy. This does come at an expense, however, this being the backup using more storage space and omitting the ability to preserve file permissions when restoring.
Choosing the more accessible option will also give us less control over the compression and encryption algorithms being used. Both are still available but they become options which are either on or off when using the compatible mode (we can’t choose the encryption algorithm being used like we could with the less accessible backup earlier on).
After choosing encryption and compression options the remainder of the backup plan creation will mirror that of the image backup I looked at in the last section. It is great to see that Ashampoo have included the ability for users to choose their own encryption and compression algorithms should they wish to alongside the ability to mount backups as a virtual drive in Windows if ease of use is more of an issue.
Cloud Backups within Backup Pro 15
One of the main areas in which Ashampoo Backup Pro 15 really stands out is with support for making cloud backups to a provider of your choice. A lot of other backup software providers do support cloud backups, but in many cases force their users to use their own cloud offering (usually at additional cost) or choose from a very limited pool of mainstream services.
Ashampoo have really raised the bar in this regard with support out of the box for all of the main cloud storage providers and support for virtually all cloud providers via the integrated WebDAV functionality.
In this section of the review I will be looking at creating a cloud based backup plan, most of this plan will be the same as that of creating a local based backup which I have covered in the preceding sections. As such in this section I will focus mainly on the cloud components.
When first creating a new backup plan within Backup Pro 15, one of the first things we will need to choose is the storage type we wish to use. So far in this review I have been using locally accessible drives but this initial screen also allows us to choose one of the many supported cloud providers with just a single click.
I am using Dropbox here for the purposes of testing but as can be seen above, Ashampoo, provide plenty of choice with all of the mainstream providers supported. After selecting Dropbox, the next screen is where we will need to authenticate Backup Pro 15 with the Dropbox account being used. This is thankfully a very simple process involving clicking the “Authorize” button first and after being directed to the Dropbox website simply logging in and clicking to allow Backup Pro 15 to access your storage.
Once the authorisation process has been completed we can continue configuring the backup as we did in prior sections, this means we still have the ability to choose between image based backups and file-level backups going forwards (although be aware that image backups to the cloud cloud be very slow depending on your internet connection).
Restoring within Ashampoo Backup Pro 15
Recovering files easily is a key component of any backup solution and is an area in which Backup Pro 15 excels, it does this by offering both in-application restores alongside the ability to mount backups as a virtual drive within Windows (with a drive letter) and easily browse any contents.
Restoring any backup begins by visiting the restore page (found on the left side menu) and then clicking on the backup plan to restore files from, if the plan is password protected the next screen will require this password be entered before going forwards.
Depending on the storage format chosen for the backup we will have the choice to simply select a series of files and folders to restore or, alternately, mount the backup set as a virtual disk drive within Windows. First I will look at the conventional restore which was covered earlier as the more disk space efficient option.
As can be seen above, when restoring a file-based plan, after entering our password we will be asked to select the file(s) to be restored. The date selection box above the file selection box allows us to restore from a specific date and time, this is dependent on the file versioning (historic versioning) settings we configured during the initial backup settings.
After selecting our files we can then select a restore location (this can be seen below), this is simply a case of selecting a drive or folder to dump any restored file(s) in.
At this next stage it is important to point out that choosing the “more efficient” storage format when configuring our backup allows us to retain the Windows file permissions, as such these can optionally be retained during the restore operation at this next stage (seen below).
Finally, after these selection have been made, the restore configuration will be complete and the files restored. Next, I will look at restoring an image backup via the mounted virtual drive, this is a really useful feature, especially if you are unsure of what files might have been backed up during a specified date and need use of the Windows search tools to narrow your choice.
Starting an image restore begins in much the same way as the file level restore I have just covered, after entering the password (if applicable) the first different screen we will come across is one asking us what we want to restore.
As can be seen above, whenever we make an image based backup we have the option to restore completely an entire drive or a full partition, in this example I will be looking at the first option for restoring files or folders. After selecting this option, on the next screen is where we can now mount this backup as a virtual drive within Windows, simply select the required date (if applicable) and then click on “Open” next to the disk in which to mount.
Whilst the drive is being mounted within Windows we will be warned by the software that any changes made to files in this virtual drive will not be saved, as such this drive is to be used for restore purposes only!
Once the drive has been mounted it will automatically open within Windows explorer and can be used like any other drive (and will even have a drive letter). When we have finished using the drive this (and all other mounted drives) can easily be closed again using the “Remove All Created Virtual Drives” button found on the drive mounting screen.
Windows Update and Malware Protection within Backup Pro 15
One of the main benefits of having a secure backup strategy is not only protecting yourself from data loss but also protecting your PC from issues arising from viruses and any problems resulting from Windows updates which do, unfortunately, happen from time to time.
Anti-virus software can only go so far in protecting your from virus based threats and very little can protect your from Windows Update problems, other than not installing them which probably wont be a good strategy over the long term. As such a solid backup strategy can be the effective cure to both of these worries for many PC users and help provide effective PC and data recovery should one of these technologies ever let you down.
Whilst file-level backups will offer some protection here, the ability to make an image based backup of the PC can often be the best form of protection in such circumstances. This is due to the functionality to recover the entire Windows system from an image based backup (including all applications, data, settings etc.) should the PC be adversely effected by either of the aforementioned issues.
Thanks to the incremental nature of image backups offered by Backup Pro 15, after the initial image backup has been taken (which might be slow) any future backups only backup any new changes to the system, this usually results in much faster backups going forwards.
As such, image backups (alongside a reputable anti-virus application and automatic Windows backups) can help protect any PC and the valuable data stored within it in the most effective way!
Other Features of Backup Pro 15
With the core backup and restore functionality aside, Backup Pro 15 offers some other useful tools to help protect the PC it is running on.
One of he main additional tools is the recovery system building tool, this tool allows a bootable USB flash drive or DVD to be created allowing the PC to be booted should it not start for any reason. Once booted into this recovery system any image backups made using the application can then be restored allowing the system to be returned to a previous state (assuming that the hardware is not the cause of the original problem).
Another useful tool integrated into Backup Pro 15 is the disk checking tool.
This tool allows all disks attached to the system to be checked for issues and (wherever possible) certain issues repaired. In addition these ad-hoc checks, this tool is also integrated into the backup plans themselves alongside SMART disk monitoring technology to continuously check and warn if any issues are detected with any attached disks.
Ashampoo Backup Pro 15 makes available, amongst other technologies, AES 256bit encryption across all backup methods. Certain file-level backup plans can take advantage of other, potentially faster or more secure encryption algorithms including AES 128bit and Blowfish.
When encryption is in effect it takes place on the local device been backed up, this means that Ashampoo or any of the supported cloud providers will have no knowledge of your backup contents. It also means there is no recovery option if you forget your password so make sure you have provisions if you choose to use this security feature.
Ashampoo have a great website and provide a comprehensive Q&A section which handles most problems you might encounter. Should you still need to get in touch with a support representative you can submit support tickets online.
Ashampoo Backup Pro 15 is priced at $49.99 – this is a one-off licence fee! Users of older versions can upgrade to version 15 for as little as $19.99
With Backup Pro 15, Ashampoo, continue to build upon and develop further their market leading backup solution. New features including the new, easy to use interface and enhanced cloud storage support combine to make this new version the most functional and user friendly one to date.
Using Backup Pro 15 really is easy and getting a multitude of different backup sets running which make use of technologies including image based backups, strong encryption and cloud storage providers can be done very quickly and effectively.
On a personal note I still would like to see the process of creating “real time” or hourly backups made a little easier on the scheduling screen, but this really is a very minor criticism of an otherwise excellent product.
If you have more complex backup needs or would like an easy to use solution capable of virtually any personal PC backup tasks which might arise then Backup Pro 15 is the way to go, excellent work Ashampoo!