Price: $129 box, $119 download
Download Retrospect 7.5
NovaStor NovaBackup 8 Standard
Before the advent of Vista, NovaBackup gave even Retrospect's feature set a run for its money. It doesn't have scripting, but non-IT types rarely employ such functions anyway, and -- unlike its pricey rival -- NovaBackup is easy to use. The tabbed navigation, well-designed windows, and easy-to-understand language and concepts are a comparative joy.
Unfortunately, NovaBackup's disaster recovery features extend only to XP. If you run the program on Vista, the option to create a recovery disc isn't available. NovaStor has developed a Vista restore function but is currently hammering out the distribution agreement with Microsoft.
Aside from the aforementioned omissions, NovaBackup has a full bag of tricks: full/incremental/differential backup, open-file backup, scheduling, plain file copying, and support for a wide variety of tape drives in addition to the usual hard-drive and optical-drive support. One feature that sets it apart from the crowd is an integrated virus scanner that helps you make sure all your files are uninfected before you back them up.
Price: $50; 15-day trial
Download NovaBackup 8 Standard
Genie-Soft Backup Manager Pro 8
Version 8 of Genie-Soft's Genie Backup Manager Pro is a substantial improvement over previous versions. It has the open-file backup function that was formerly a separate $40 module, and it adds disaster recovery to the full, incremental, differential, and mirror backups already offered. Put bluntly, Genie is playing with the big boys now.
Genie Backup Manger Pro is simple to use, with a versatile interface that has both normal and easy modes. The former features standard restore and backup panes presented in a step-by-step format with access to advanced features; the latter employs the same wizard-based workflow but with a cleaner look, and no tools or advanced options.
The new self-booting disaster recovery boot disc uses Vista Pre-installation Environment (Win PE 2.0), but unlike others of its ilk it offered no opportunity that I could find to add drivers ex post facto, and in my tests it failed to connect to my network. The program has some minor cosmetic and language glitches as well, such as too-tiny text in a dialog box on the disaster recovery disc, but I've never experienced a problem backing up with Genie.
Price: $70; 30-day trial
Download Genie Backup Manager Pro 8
NTI Backup Now 5
NTI's design philosophy is to keep things simple. Unfortunately, simple isn't always easy to use -- take for example the buttons labeled with numbers instead of their function. Still, you'll have far less trouble getting up to speed with this program than with a product like Retrospect, and the look of the Backup Now interface is substantially improved for version 5.
Backup Now 5 offers the usual basics: full and incremental backup, scheduling, and a compare function. It also has a nice set of utilities that display information about your drives, network, and system. Unfortunately, in my testing it failed to back up some open files (files in use by the OS or other programs).