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I mentioned in Windows Mobile News last week that Sprite Software has been busy with a new update for Sprite Backup for Windows Mobile Pocket PCs. I’ve reviewed Sprite backup previously and it has become one of my essential handheld applications Anyone who’s ever attempted to use the backup functionality built into Microsoft ActiveSync will instantly realize why this software is so important.

Sprite Software has released version 5.1 of their popular backup application It makes backups almost effortless and consistent New in the 5.1 update is a self-extracting backup feature And back by popular demand is the Upgrade Mode More on these new features later in the review.

Getting Started

Sprite Backup 5.1’s installation is almost identical to that of version 5 It’s good looking and friendly It installs portions of the software to the user’s desktop as well as the connected handheld device As part of the process the setup helps the user create a routine backup schedule and configures encryption options Right from the start the user is able to configure the frequency and start time for scheduled backups More specific configurations are left to be made later

Backups in Action

Ever since I first started using Sprite Backup I’ve had backups scheduled for every evening at 10:00 pm At that time, Sprite Backup pops up, warns me that it would reset my device and start a backup and gives me the opportunity to cancel the backup if I’m in the middle of something Once the device resets the backup process begins.

By default, Sprite Backup will save off all your PIM data, files and Windows Mobile settings On my Dell Axim x51v that came to over 121 MB of information Sprite Backup took just over 6 minutes to collect all the data, compress it, encrypt it, and place the resulting backup file on my storage card Not bad considering I’ve tried using ActiveSync for system backups and I’ve never actually finished one because after a half hour or so I lose patience Sprite Backup’s resulting compressed data file from my system is 81 MB in size

During the backup process the software displays the file or setting that it is currently storing and it will allow the user to cancel the process at any time Sprite Backup can also be configured to shut down the device once the backup is complete This will come in handy if backups are scheduled during early-morning down time.

Sprite Backup logs the backup process so you can look at its results after a backup is complete A notification pops up after a backup giving the user that opportunity

New Features in Version 5.1

As I mentioned in my initial review for this software, restores are just as easy to do as the backups. And in my tests, everything gets put back right where you left it before the backup This brings me to new feature number one It used to be that you had to keep a copy of earlier Sprite Backup versions on your storage card in order to restore your data after a hard reset Otherwise there weren’t any programs on a freshly reset machine that knew how to read a Sprite Backup file Well self extracting backups change all that With Sprite Backup 5.1, the backup files are executable Which means the only file you need when you restore your system is the backup file itself Simply tap on that self extracting file and you’re on your way to a fully restored system An excellent new feature!

New feature number two is just as important The folks at Sprite Software have figured out the secrets of Windows Mobile 5 and now provide Upgrade Mode Use this feature, previously only available for earlier Windows Mobile versions, to backup your complete system in a way that can be restored after a ROM update Because quite a bit can change in Windows Mobile between ROM versions, special instructions are required in order to perform this type of backup and restore But this means you won’t have to spend all that time reinstalling your applications after you update your device’s ROM That a huge savings.

Conclusion

Let’s face the facts Windows Mobile devices aren’t always the most reliable gadgets And yet we as users are expected to trust them with all our important data The only way I feel comfortable doing that is with Sprite Backup around to keep my system’s files and settings safely stored And Sprite Backup 5.1 makes backups even more powerful and easier than before Still present are abilities to encrypt your backups and schedule them when convenient Adding self extracting backups and Upgrade Mode only sweetens the deal even more.

Sprite Backup 5.1 is compatible with Windows Mobile 5 There are also versions available for previous Windows Mobile versions as well as other operating systems and devices

Final Grade: A

Pros: Very reliable, full feature set, new self extracting backups and Upgrade Mode for Windows Mobile 5

Cons: None

Sprite Backup version 5 is available from http://www.spritesoftware.com/pocketpc.php for $29.95.

Written by Nate