Last night I did some simple tests of two very similar Windows backup programs – Backup4all, which I’m already using, and Handy Backup. They both have extremely similar interfaces and features, to the extent that I wonder whether the authors know each other. As far as I can tell, as of Backup4all 2.0 (which just came out) the only significant functional differences are:

  • HB has a synchronization feature which B4A lacks.
  • HB has some plugins to do things like registry and Outlook email backups in addition to files.
  • B4A supports differential backups (delta since last full backup) in addition to incremental (delta since last full or incremental) and a little more control over how incrementals get stored/coalesced.

That’s really about it. The facilities for selecting source and destination directories (including CD-R burning and spanning) seem pretty much exactly alike. The schedulers seem exactly alike except that B4A can combine items into groups which can be scheduled together. The interfaces seem to be at an approximately equal level of maturity and polish. They both produce plain zip files plus separate index files which aren’t really necessary (I just dive straight into the zip files if I want to retrieve something).

For someone like me who doesn’t really use any of the features that are different, there’s really only one thing to distinguish them: when I backed up the same large directory with both programs, B4A was about 20% faster and produced an archive that was just a tiny bit smaller. That’s a welcome result for me, considering that I already have a bunch of B4A backups and it only costs me $12 to upgrade from B4A 1.5 to 2.0 instead of the $30 it would cost someone else to buy either program. Both programs are excellent pieces of work, but in this race it’s B4A by a nose.