GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition – Product Review

Think back to the last time you took your poor failing (or failed) computer to your nearest G.O.D. (Geek On Duty…I just made that up and I hope it sticks). What was the first question that came out of his/her mouth? Was it “Do you have a recent backup”?  I bet you a coke that your answer was “uh…no…should I?”. And the answer is YES you should. Most computer users consider their data to be critical to their existence. Their music, family pictures, that doctoral thesis you’ve been working on for every waking moment of the last year of your life. But the Internet is filled with horror stories of ill-timed power outages, cats with an uncanny ability to find the delete key on the keyboard, and other similar tales of catastrophe. If this information is so critical to your digital life then why aren’t you taking the steps to make sure that when (that’s right, when, not if) your beloved computer decides to take a vacation (or a permanent trip to the beyond) it can be restored without tears or massive expense?

There are countless backup methods available. Some free, some not so much. Some manual and (many more now than before) completely automated. These methods range from simple self written batch files with a well placed xcopy command to massive applications that sync data to multiple locations across the planet and ensure that there are no duplicate files. Whatever method you use to back up your data, the most important thing is that it’s backed up. So what are you waiting for? Get your data safe!

GFI software was founded in 1992 and has been offering various network and content security products to small/medium sized businesses ever since (one of their most well known products is GFI Languard, which is great). Their newest product is GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition. With Backup 2009 – Home Edition GFI has attempted to make home backup as easy as turning on your computer. Let’s see how they did with that lofty goal.

What it does

GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition does exactly what it says, it backs things up. Well, there are a lot of programs that do that, but GFI has made the process pretty easy and relatively fool proof. Most backup solutions (especially the free ones) allow you to back up files, and some allow you to backup “system state” data (which is basic information about your Windows environment and certain user settings). GFI’s solution allows you to back up files/folders, but it also allows you to select from a set of predefined file filters (or create your own) to just back up certain types of files no matter where they are (such as video or music files), it also allows you to back up part or all of your registry, Email and Email client settings from many of the most popular Email clients, and User settings for Windows as well as a multitude of common (and some not so common) applications. It also allows you to back up to various destinations such as, a local folder or external hard drive, network locations, removable media (floppy drives, USB memory stick, memory cards, etc..), CD/DVD or even via FTP for off site storage (which is really great if you happen to have a catastrophe such as flooding or other natural disaster). You can choose to compress the backups into a zip file, multiple zip files or even into a self extracting archive (as long as the data you’re backing up is less than 4 GB). You can choose to encrypt the backups using Zip file passwords or even AES encryption. GFI also gives you the option to do incremental backups (which backs up only files that have changed), differential backups (which will back up changed files but also delete files from an existing backup if they were deleted in the source), and “stacked backups” which will make multiple versions of the backups with version numbers. Another great feature is the ability to set the backup jobs to run on a schedule, or even every time windows starts up or shuts down. There’s even a Sync option that allows you to make sure that two separate locations are synchronized so that they both contain the same versions of the same files.


There a multitude of programs that do the same basic operations that GFI Backup 2009 – Home Edition –  Home edition does. I have been a user of 2BrightSparks SyncBack (freeware version) for quite some time now and it’s very effective, however the user interface is very complex and can be extremely confusing. GFI have taken the concept of simple file backup and added complex features while maintaining an extremely understandable user interface. There are just enough options to allow you to make a fully customizable backup structure without overloading you with confusing choices and options. Plus the price is right! Free software that does everything you need it to do is hard to come by but GFI delivers. I suggest you download the product today and start keeping your data safe, you never know when disaster will strike.

GFI is offering this product free as part of their “We Care” initiative which offers some of their other products free of charge or at a reasonable discount. In today’s economic times, it’s great to see a company trying to lighten the financial load a little.