SOFTWARE TOOLBOX

Second Copy Takes the Hassle Out of Backups

Here’s the scenario. Something ugly has happened to your computer. Irreplaceable files have been clobbered. You seek assistance from a PC pundit, but you know your files are fly food as soon as you hear, “You’re supposed to back up your files, you know.”

Let’s face it. We all have good excuses for failing to sustain a rigid maintenance regimen for our computers. My excuse is that I hate backup programs. They create mysterious “archives.” When I check the backup location, I see files with meaningless numbers for names that need to be “restored” before I can see my “real” files. For the most part, they’re also designed to copy entire drives, when most of the time what I need copied are selected files.

That’s why I use Second Copy (US$29.95). It makes copies of files at a second location on my system. The copies keep their files names and aren’t hidden in archives that have to be “restored” to access them, and you can customize the application to automatically make copies of your files based on criteria chosen by you.

Strong Encryption Added

Recently, the makers of Second Copy, Centered Systems, of Falls Church, Va., released a new edition of the program, version 7, which contains some valuable new features.

A strong form of encryption, AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), has been built into the program. The technology has been growing in popularity since its adoption by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 2001 and is gaining favor over long-time encryption kingpin DES (Data Encryption Standard).

The application now supports FTP (File Transfer Protocol). That technology is commonly used to upload Web pages to a server.

The FTP feature allows you to use Second Copy to manage a Web site. You can keep copies of your Web pages on your computer and set the program to synchronize them with the files at your FTP site.

Dynamic Updating

Another new addition makes the FTP feature even more valuable for Web site work. You can now program Second Copy to run its profiles as files change.

A “profile” is a set of instructions for Second Copy. It tells the application what files you want to copy, where you want them copied to, when you want them copied and how you want them copied.

So if you had a profile for your Web site files on your computer, you could program Second Copy to run the profile immediately when a change is made in one of its files and instantly update your site.

Transparency Added

Centered Systems has made the application more transparent by allowing you to preview what a profile is going to do before it does it. With the preview option turned on, a window pops up displaying the files that will be updated when you run the profile.

A nice feature of Second Copy is that it will only update files at a destination location if the original file has changed. That avoids tedious and unnecessary copying of files.

Version 7 of the application has a spruced up interface to give it more of a Windows XP feel, but it has done so without compromising its elegant simplicity.

Simplicity Maintained

Setting up a profile also remains beautifully simple.

Click an icon to create a new profile. Choose between elementary “express” mode or more feature-rich “custom” mode. Fill in the blanks of “what,” “where” and “when.” As long as you have Second Copy running, it will execute its profiles at its appointed times.

Those times can be once a day; every few minutes, hours or days; or whenever there’s a change in a target file. You can also choose to run the profiles at startup and shutdown, and you can exclude days for running the profiles.

If sticking to a schedule for backing up important files on your computer seems like a hassle to you, Second Copy will change your perception of backups forever. It is one of those rare applications that startles with its simplicity and impresses with its power.

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