Sprite Backup Premium 3.14 for Windows Mobile Pocket
PCs and Pocket PC Phones
Review Posted June 2005 by Tanker Bob
There are two kinds of people: those that
have good backup habits and those who someday will wish in the
worse way that they had them. The best advice anyone can give
you is to not find yourself in the latter category. Tanker Bob
has robust backup schemes for his desktop, his Palm, and has
found a winner on the Pocket PC platform—Sprite
Backup Premium. HP, Samsung, and LG Electronics all chose Sprite
Backup for their OEM solution, making a test drive even more irresistible.
We tested Sprite Backup Premium on a Dell
Axim X50v with a 1GB
Sandisk Extreme III SD card and a 512MB Kingston CF card.
The desktop runs Windows XP Pro with Service Pack 2 installed,
and has more background processes loaded than the moon has craters.
For those of you with Windows
Mobile MS Smartphones, there's
a version of Sprite Backup for that platform as well, though
we didn't test it for this review.
Backing up your configuration
Sprite Backup sports a new, simplified
Basic mode for backups and restores. It automatically tells you
when it last backed up your system and offers the most recent
file to restore. Most users can live with this level of detail,
knowing that Sprite backed up their entire storage memory contents
and the all-important registry.
The advanced mode allows you to select the files to backup as
well as the target location and file name. The Options menu contains
many settings to enhance the backup experience and performance.
Amongst them sits the opportunity to stop all processes for the
backup. This will close all running programs to ensure that your
entire setup will be backed up. You may also exclude files or file
types from being backed up.
Part of Sprite Backup’s power comes from its many advanced
features. Backups may be compressed, and may also be encrypted,
but the password can only be set on the handheld. Backups may be
scheduled in time (daily or weekly), and saved sets limited in
number so as not to overwhelm your backup medium. Sprite can be
scheduled to stop all processes before it backs up and to automatically
soft reset afterward. Backups can be set to initiate at a user-settable
battery level so that your system can be recovered intact in the
event of total battery loss. Backup sets can also be auto-named
based on the date and may be made self-executing. The only desirable
feature missing is the ability to do differential or incremental
backups which can save time and space.
Restoring your system
The user restores through a display virtually identical to the
backup screen. Choose individual files or groups of files to restore.
Choose the backup set from which to restore. You can also stop
process so that all program files may be replaced.
Sprite Backup boasts a particularly critical
feature in its Device Upgrade Mode. Sprite explains the procedure
for recovering from a firmware update here.
It requires a free, downloadable program called GetUpgradeFile
to take a snapshot of your system immediately after a hard reset,
firmware upgrade, or of a clean new device. Put the generated
file on a card so that it won’t be affected by a hard reset.
Sprite uses this file during the restore after upgrading your firmware
or buying a new device. It ensures that new register settings and
system files are not overwritten. The value of this goes beyond
words, as I’ll demonstrate later.
Managing your RAM and more
The Premium package includes Space Detective.
On the surface, it simply displays the space usage on your device,
including cards and built-in storage. However, tapping on the Program
or Storage Memory icons brings up the OS memory-partitioning screen.
Tapping on the total memory or drive icons brings up a list of
folders in memory or on the card respectively, sorted by size in
descending order. Tap on a folder and Space Detective displays
a list of files in the folder, also sorted in descending order.
This handy drill-down approach helps users easily find large files
eating up space on the PDA. Tap and hold on a file to bring up
a context menu from which you can cut, copy, paste, delete, or
check on the properties of the file. Alternately, the user may
use the icons on the bottom bar to access these functions. Space
Detective has been well thought-out and works great.
Monitor your storage and more
Pocket Monitor also comes with the Premium
package. It ties into the Today screen, providing visual feedback
on the memory, non-volatile storage, backlight, and battery’s
status. The memory and storage icons each rotate between their
underlying components. The memory icon jumps between Program
and Storage Memory, the storage media rotate between the SD,
CF card, and the built-in storage. I’d personally prefer
if these icons could simply be set to the items desired by the
user, as I found the constantly changing icons to be distracting.
Pocket Monitor also makes icons available to access Sprite Backup
and the Today screen setup.
In addition to backing up your Pocket PC
to a card or built-in storage, the Premium edition will backup
directly from the PDA to the desktop or a network through the
ActiveSync link. It also has a desktop component, in which the
procedure and options are similar to backing up on the handheld.
It lacks a few niceties like the ability to exclude files or
folders (like excluding your music and/or pictures), but will
backup all your non-volatile storage to your PC. It can also
backup your handheld automatically upon placing it in the cradle
the first time during a day. This desktop component provides
a critical backup in case something happens to your PDA and its
cards. With the backup on the desktop or network and GetUpgradeFile,
you can recreate your lost handheld exactly in only a few minutes.
The rubber meets road
So, how does all this work? Incredibly
well. Backing up an X50v with about 19.09MB in Storage Memory
to an SD or CF card takes about 2.5 minutes. Compression isn’t all that impressive,
though, as this option reduced the backup file only down to 14.0MB
of space. Sprite claims up to 50% compression, but I routinely
saw only about 25% or so over several weeks’ worth of daily
backups. Backing up my Axim’s entire 495MB data set, including
the built-in storage and SD card, took 1:06:41 (H:M:S) (622KB/sec)
and weighed in at 462MB with compression. Most of the data on the
SD card was already in some kind of compressed format (mp3, ogg,
jpg, iSilo, etc.), so Sprite wasn’t going to compress it
much if at all.
Daily backups occurred exactly on time and the
post-backup soft reset has your Pocket PC ready to go automatically.
Backing up from the PC works equally well. I suffered a hard reset
once at work, and the automatic SD card backup from that morning
restored the Axim perfectly in just minutes. Sweet! I recount that
The Device Upgrade Mode proved absolutely
awesome. I upgraded the X50v’s firmware from A02 to A03 and used this option
to restore the Axim’s setup afterward in accordance with Sprite’s
instructions. It worked perfectly, preserving the upgraded
features and settings while saving many hours of reloading software.
Tanker Bob cannot tout this feature highly enough.
Lastly, Sprite Backup comes with an excellent
manual and help files, both on the handheld and the desktop.
The FAQ on Sprite’s
support site also has detailed instructions for a variety of important
situations. I encountered no difficulties in quickly finding the
information I needed to fully exercise the software.
Backup Premium 3.14 sets a high bar for the Pocket PC backup
software market. Its flexible scheduling options, speed, compression,
encryption, desktop and handheld support, and outstanding Device
Upgrade Mode set it way apart. The Device Upgrade Mode alone
is worth the price of admission should you ever change devices
or upgrade your firmware. At $29.95 with a 30-day money-back
guarantee, you can’t go wrong. Sprite
Backup holds a permanent place in Tanker Bob’s Pocket
PC world, making life on the dark side far more secure.
Basic and advanced modes
Excellent scheduling options
Backs up to any non-volatile storage
and network shares
Desktop-side backup/restore agent, including
for non-volatile storage
Device Upgrade Mode for firmware upgrades
or device migration
Perfectly reliable over a month of rigorous
No detailed exclusion settings on the
No incremental or differential backups
Web site: www.spritesoftware.com