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Reviews

Sprite Software Sprite Backup 5.0

By Legacy March 6, 2006, 12:00 am

INTRODUCTION

I have been using Sprite Software's backup technology since the days when it was initially bundled with the Compaq iPaq 3650 and was sold under the "Pocket Backup" name. On pre-Windows Mobile 5.0, Pocket PCs Pocket Backup was a life saver when the Pocket PC memory was wiped cleaned by a battery drain. Sprite Backup, its current name, has evolved into a complete backup solution which can be used to restore a Windows Mobile environment even after a hard reset. Windows Mobile 5.0's persistent storage has solved the power loss issue of previous Windows Mobile devices, but there are still threats to mobile devices such as theft, loss and hardware failures. With the new Microsoft Security Feature Pack (MSFP), administrators have the ability to wipe a device clean. With these issues and our growing dependency on these devices, backups are critical. Sprite Software has just released a Windows Mobile 5.0 version of their backup software, Sprite Backup 5.0. Let's see if it can perform well in its ability to protect our data. Read on!

POCKETNOW VIDEO OF THE DAY

WHAT'S HOT

The new and improved features in Sprite Backup 5.0 are:

  • Desktop setup wizard

  • Full backupand restore of Microsoft Exchange mail and messages

  • Performanceimprovements

  • Encryption ofbackup files

  • Automaticinstallation of Sprite Backup during a restore from a flash memory card

  • AutomaticActiveSync partnership handling during a restore

  • Backup to PCor Network

  • Auto backup onfirst dock of the day

  • Scheduledbackup operation

SETUP

Sprite Backup 5.0 provides a standard Windows XP installation application.

The installation of the software uses a standard Windows installer application and ActiveSync.

The installation process includes a six step setup wizard to customize the backup process.

A registration code is required to complete the installation process.

The scheduling of backups can be customized.

The backup files can be encrypted with a user defined password.

The advanced options provide the ability to compress the backup files and allow Sprite Backup to automatically manage the restoration of the entries in the start menu.

Sprite Backup creates a "My Mobile Device Backups" directory under the user's "My Documents" folder to store backup data.

The setup wizard can be reinitiated from the Sprite PC backup agent menu.

PROGRAM FEATURES

Sprite Backup provides a wide range of options to create backups of the Windows Mobile environment and data.

Sprite Backup has two modes of operations, basic on the left and advanced on the right.

The basic mode uses Sprite Backup's default settings to backup and restore data.

The advanced mode provides the ability to select files and customize backup and restore options. The backup options menu items provide access to general backup options, backup file management, and file exclusion rules.

General backup options allow for the compression, encryption, naming, and the ability to maintain an installation copy of Sprite Backup on a storage card. This feature allows for restoration from a hard reset without first having to install Sprite Backup. The file maintenance options allows for the selection of a storage quota of backup files by space used and number of backups.

Sprite Backup allows for the exclusion of existing backup files, program files, and storage cards which include any pre-Windows Mobile 5.0 persistent storage area like the iPaq file store. A list of individual files, file types or folders using wildcards can be added to the exclusion list.

The scheduling of backups can be selected by single occurrence, day, and week. The destination of the backup can also be selected.

The configuration of a backup across a network is performed using the networking menu. ActiveSync via USB and network via TCP/IP options are available.

The TCP/IP option requires a hostname and a port. The test button verifies that the Sprite Backup PC agent on the target host is available.

The Sprite Backup PC agent runs as an XP service and displays an icon in the system tray. A right click on this icon displays a menu to view options, remotely execute backups and restores, start the setup wizard, and view the user manual.

The backup file option provides for the customization of the backup file name, backup location, and description.

When executing a backup with the encryption option selected, a password is required. If no password is entered, the password entered in the setup wizard will be used. Every backup requires a soft reset of the device before and after the process is run. When backing up[ through a network, the reset may cause some devices to turn off networking hardware. In this case, the user will need to manually initiate the device's networking utilities within a timeout period for the backup to successfully complete.

A history report of the last 30 backups can be viewed.

The basic mode restore now function restores the environment and data in its entirety from the last backup found on a storage card. If encryption was enabled the backup file password is required. Sprite Backup 5.0 will perform a soft reset before and after restoration process.

The advanced mode restore allows for the selection of backup files. If networking is enabled a drop down menu allows the Pocket PC or PC directory to be viewed.

Once a backup file is opened, the ability to select individual files, folders, email, personal databases, and system data is available. A soft reset will be performed before and after the restore process is run.

HELP SUPPORT

Sprite Backup 5.0 includes a very comprehensive PDF manual. Support is handled via the Sprite Software web site here. A well attended forum can be found here.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Sprite Backup 5.0 only works on Windows Mobile 5.0 devices. Sprite Backup 3.1.4 is the latest release for Windows Mobile 2002/2003 devices. Sprite Backup 5.0 require 3083.3KB of storage memory.

BUGS AND WISHES

The backup and restore processes are very straightforward with a full featured set of options. Backup timings for about 92MB were 329KB/sec to the SD card, 283KB/sec using ActiveSync over USB, and 216KB/sec over a WiFi connection. There are issues with the networking backup option using wireless connectivity. With the networking option set to ActiveSync, Sprite Backup 5.0 cannot initiate an ActiveSync via Bluetooth connection. A USB connection must be used. If the network (TCP/IP) option is set, the wireless hardware must be active after the soft reset is performed. In version 3.1.4 the ability to restore after a ROM upgrade was available, Sprite Backup 5.0 does not currently have this capability. My wish list for Sprite Software is to addresses these issues by:

Providing a step to initiate wireless connectivity on a backup before timing out.

Providing a restore after ROM upgrade capability.

PURCHASING

Sprite Backup 5.0 can be purchased for $29.95

here. It is unfortunate that a trial version is not available, but the software comes with a 30 day money back guarantee. Users of Sprite Backup 3.1.4 Premium are eligible for a $15.00 upgrade, details can be found

here. There is a Smartphone version available, but it's not compatible with WM 5.0.

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Backup on first ActiveSync of the day
  • Extensive set of backup options
  • PC-based setup wizard

Cons

  • No trial version
  • No restore after ROM upgrade capability

OVERALL IMPRESSION

Sprite Software is the backup technology leader for the Pocket PC platform and they have again delivered a solid product with Sprite Backup 5.0. I am happy to see that they fixed the inability to successfully restore mail settings that plagued Sprite Backup 3.1.4, but I wish they would have included the ROM upgrade feature. At $29.95, the price is reasonable given the peace of mind you have knowing that your environment and data have been backed up. Even with the Windows Mobile persistent storage, devices can be stolen, damaged or fail; backing up one's device is critical. Sprite Backup 5.0 helps automate this task to make this process as effortless as possible.

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