Genie Timeline Professional 2013 review

If you like to keep your backups simple then image-based solutions have an obvious attraction. There’s no need to spend an age figuring out what to protect, and then change your settings regularly to suit some new application: you just back up everything, and so can always be sure you’re fully protected.

Don’t rule out file-based backups just yet, though. Genie Timeline Professional 2013 can be set up in just a few clicks; runs regularly to protect even your most recent files; keeps multiple versions of a document, allowing you to restore whatever you need; and that’s just the start.

Launch the program and the focus on ease of use is immediately apparent. There’s no need to browse to, or create a folder to hold your backups, for instance – just choose a drive (internal, external or network), and Timeline Professional 2013 will take care of everything else.

Deciding what to back up doesn’t have to be any more difficult. The program provides 13 tiles representing different types of files -- “Pictures”, “Office Files”, “Email”, “Music” and so on -- and all you have to do is check a box for each category you’d like to protect. (You may not even have to do that, as the most common options are checked by default.)

You don’t even have to schedule your backups, as the program will by default select different backup intervals for your files, depending on their type and size. And even the “advanced” options, encryption and compression, can be enabled with just a click.

This doesn’t always work quite as smoothly as you might hope. Checking a tile like “Pictures”, for instance, won’t necessarily protect all your images – only the formats the program recognises (bmp; jpg; jpeg; jpe; gif; tif; tiff; png; raw; dng; nef; cr2). You could edit this list to, say, add support for PSD files, but then you’ll have to know all the formats you might use, and suddenly the program isn’t quite so beginner-friendly any more.

Other backup categories have their limitations, too. The Email option only supports Microsoft tools, for instance (Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Windows Live Mail), while you can save the bookmarks for the top browsers, but nothing more (the ability to save profiles would be very useful).

Still, if you want more control then clicking the “My Computer” tab displays a familiar Explorer-type screen, where you can manually select whatever files and folders you’d like to protect.

And there’s a new “Filter my selections” option which allows you to define file types which you’d like to include or exclude from the backup. So if you want to add support for, say, PSD, OGG and TS files (none of which are covered by the default selections) then filters allow you to do it in one place.

Arguably, having to do this at all makes Genie Timeline Professional 2013 much like any other backup tool. Still, at least you only have to set it up once, then you can sit back and leave the program to do its work, while you get on with more important things. (And we do mean “leave”: install the iPhone or iPad app and you can monitor your backup status wherever you are.)

Recovery

Disaster has struck, and you need to recover some files? There are several ways to go about it.

If the file still exists but you’d like to recover an earlier version, right-clicking it in Explorer and selecting “Show Versions” will display your options, and you can restore an older copy with a click.

The program also adds a Timeline Explorer view to Explorer. Choose a backup time and you’re able to browse everything it contains, restoring individual files as required. (These Explorer integrations can be disabled if you don’t want other users to have access to them.)

Genie Timeline Professional 2013 has an “Advanced Restore” option with even more powers. Again, choose a backup time and you can browse everything included in that job. There are sometimes so many files that it’s hard to find what you need, but this version now includes a filter where you can choose to see only deleted or new files, for instance, making your browsing a little more manageable.

“Advanced Restore” is further improved this time with the addition of a search box. If you’re looking for a specific file there’s no need to browse for it, just enter a part of the name and you’ll be presented with all available matches (including previous versions) and again you can restore individual files with a click.

Another option is simply to manually switch to your backup drive, where your files are available in their original folder structure (our fourth backup job stored test desktop files at D:\_Genie Timeline(4)\0\C\Users\Mike\Desktop, for instance).

And if you’d enabled Disaster Recovery, and prepared by burning a disaster recovery disc (available as a separate download for Genie Timeline Professional 2013 owners), then this may be able to help you get a broken PC working again by restoring your system folders. Boot from the recovery disc and a simple wizard walks you through the process.

There are some problems here. If you’ve chosen to encrypt your backups, for instance, you may not be pleased to find that all your file and folder names are still visible to anyone with access to the destination folder.

And restoration isn’t always as straightforward as you might like. If you’re at the Timeline Explorer, say, you can right-click and restore individual files, but not several files or folders in a single operation. And the new Search option locates files, not folders, and again only allows you to restore one at a time. (Recovering folders and multiple files is available via Advanced Restore, but that’s not always as convenient to use.)

For the most part, though, the process works very well. There are plenty of recovery methods, and once you understand how the program works, the most common situations -- restoring an individual file or one or more folders -- can be completed quickly and easily.

Settings and Options

As we’ve seen, Genie Timeline Professional 2013 is fine for simple applications, but what if you need a little more power?

One issue is the program’s inability to maintain more than one backup job. In an ideal world you might want one job to back up your documents every few minutes, say, while another saves your emails every day, and a third protects your downloads every week. But here there’s just one backup job, and if you want to do something differently then you’ll have to change its settings. Every single time.

Scheduling is at least reasonably flexible, though. If you don’t want to allow the program to decide, you can have backups run at regular intervals from 3 minutes to 24 hours, or on a weekly schedule.

Disaster Recovery backups provide even more control, as you can run them at anything from one day to six monthly intervals.

You can keep control of your backup size, both by setting an overall limit, and telling the program to delete files once they’re older than a defined number of days.

And although the program is extremely lightweight and didn’t noticeably affect other applications at all, there are some useful performance-related settings.

A “Game Mode” disables backups when you’re running full-screen applications, for instance.

You can prevent backups from starting as soon as your system boots, when they’re most likely to clash with other programs.

And if you just want to get a backup finished as soon as possible, Genie Timeline Professional 2013 finally allows you to turn on the high-speed Turbo Mode manually, a small but worthwhile improvement.

The program is easy to set up, then. Backups run smoothly, if a little slowly; restoration is straightforward, and there are some useful configuration options. The new features are conveniences, more than must-haves, and the inability to run multiple backup jobs will annoy many, but if your needs are simple then Genie Timeline Professional 2013 could still be a very good backup choice.

The software lists for $59.95 and is available for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.

Verdict: It's lacking a few advanced features, but Genie Timeline Professional 2013 remains very easy to set up and use, and if you're only looking for the backup basics then we'd give it a try.

We Like: Easy to set up and use, won't slow down your PC, keeps multiple file versions, several restore methods, disaster recovery disc.

We Don't Like: Can only run one backup job, slow backup speeds, encryption doesn't conceal file and folder names, gets notably more complex as you move from the default.

Photo Credit: Balazs Justin/Shutterstock

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