Data Backup Review: Backup My Info - Page 2

By Gerry Blackwell
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Better Service
The real point of the BUMI service is not the software, but the customer service. Judging by my experience, it’s at a very high level. The firm assigns an engineer – Walzer said her support employees must have a minimum of ten years experience – to help each new customer download, install and configure the client software.

The engineer I worked with was the soul of patience and obviously knew his stuff. The usual procedure is for BUMI to use an Internet remote support tool so the engineer actually takes control of your computer and performs most of the installation and set-up tasks. You only take over to key in a private encryption key and Windows user ID and password.

For whatever reason, the BUMI engineer couldn’t stay connected to my computer. It most likely had to do with the way my network router’s firewall is configured. It meant he had to talk me through the process instead, which partly accounts for the time it took to get me up and running – well over an hour. It more typically takes 15 or 20 minutes, Walzer said, and sometimes as little as 10.

The engineer carefully explained exactly what I had to do at each step, from downloading the installer from the BUMI Web site and launching it, to managing the install process, to configuring the application.

There were a few additional glitches in the process – again, because of problems at my end, most likely to do with having too many applications running and not enough computing resources available. It took two tries to get the software installed, then several steps went painfully slowly.

Free Consulting
Once the software, including a lite version of Microsoft’s SQL server software, was installed, the process of configuring it for the first backup was relatively simple. This was mainly because the BUMI engineer was able to guide me through the complex business of deciding which choices to make about how to do backups and what to back up.

The firm’s methodology includes the sensible measure of using file filters to prevent the program from backing up certain types of files, including images, videos, temporary files and the like. My engineer was able to e-mail me ready-made coding for this filter, which I could simply clip from the message and paste into the software.

Another part of the methodology is to set up the software so it communicates with a BUMI server to send it a notification when a backup is complete, and show any errors that occurred. The server then turns around and e-mails this notification to the customer.

Setting this up requires the engineer to input a password proprietary to BUMI. Because in my installation, he wasn’t able to take control of my system, he couldn’t do this. Instead, he set up the software to generate a pop-up message on my screen with the notifications, which was almost as satisfactory.

While the set-up process was more involved and time-consuming than either of us expected, the experience was still positive. And the next day after the first full backup was done in the middle of the night, my BUMI engineer e-mailed to tell me it had completed successfully.

Constant Feedback
I subsequently adjusted which folders to back up – the customer always has control of the client software on his system and can adjust backup parameters or schedules or add new backups. Since my backup now included some files that could not be backed up while ope, and I hadn’t closed them before the scheduled event, the BUMI software reported errors in a pop-up message that I found the next day.

A different BUMI engineer – mine was apparently busy in meetings – e-mailed to point out these errors, explain why they occurred and suggest that in future I could exclude folders or files that triggered errors. He also offered to set up a teleconference to discuss what I was backing up and how I might change that to increase efficiency and reduce storage requirements.

A few days after the initial installation, a hand-written note arrived in the mail from my BUMI engineer, with business cards for recording my encryption key. (It’s important to remember this password-like 16-character code because without it, you can’t set up the BUMI service on a new computer and restore all your files from your backups in the event of a disaster.)

You get the idea. BUMI smothers you with service. The attention to detail is excellent.

The software works well enough. I didn’t test a full restore of my backup set, but I did experiment with restoring selected files. It was faster than I expected and was easy to do. In the event of a real disaster, though, my BUMI engineer – or another – would help me through the restore process.

The real advantage here is the company's level of service and the reassurance that brings. It’s like buying insurance for your data, and it's money well-spent.

Based in London, Canada, Gerry Blackwell has been writing about information technology and telecommunications for a variety of print and online publications since the 1980s.

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This article was originally published on March 24, 2008
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