Genie Timeline: Time Machine-like Windows Backup Software

Backup is easily the most important step in computer maintenance. No matter how secure you believe your computer to be, having a complete copy of all your data is essential to ensure that your most important memories are safeguarded.

My backup solution has evolved from the perennial “copy and paste” method to incremental backups using command line tools such as rsync and more recently into the cloud with Dropbox. Since switching to Windows 7, I have started using the free version of Genie Timeline 2.0.

When looking for a backup application, I required something that backed up securely, quickly, with minimal interference and which kept older versions of a file so I could revert to the older version whenever I wanted. The type of backup program that attracted me was Apple’s Time Machine. However, having a Windows PC, Time Machine was not an option and so I came across the very similar application Genie Timeline.

Genie Timeline 2.0, comes in a free version, a “Home” version and a “Pro” version. The free version is fairly limited, however it is powerful enough for those unwilling to pay for the other versions. Till now I have been using the free version, but I have found the product useful and plan to upgrade to the Home version soon.

Installation and Setup

After the basic installation, the Genie Timeline icon shows in your notification bar and a window opens prompting you to “Select Backup Drive”. It is recommended that you use an external hard drive.

genie - setup

After selecting the drive you have the option of choosing the file types you would like to backup.

genie - select data

Unfortunately, in the free version you are limited to selecting the broad range of file types. Upgrading allows you to select the specific file extensions.

Being the obsessively tidy computer user, I am very particular about the specific folders I want to backup. Indeed backing up by file type would mean I may inadvertently backup something that is uneccesary or miss out something important. So, I selected “Customize selections”. Now, I was able to deselect the file types I did not want to backup. Alternatively, I could select the specific folders I wanted to backup by navigating to the “My Computer” tab.

genie - select data2

genie - select data3

That is all that is required to setup the backup process. The dashboard appears showing the progress of the backup.

genie - dashboard

Once the backup starts you are given the option of using “Smart Mode” or “Turbo Mode”. Smart Mode ensures that the backup process does not overload your computers resources. If, however, you want to ensure that everything is backed up quickly, you should switch to Turbo Mode.

Depending on the amount of data you are backing up and the speed of your backup drive, the backup may take anything from a few minutes to hours to complete.

Recovery

The backup is only the first stage. Genie Timeline offers a very visual method of restoring files using a “timeline view”.

To launch the recovery programme, you select “Timeline Explorer” from the Windows Explorer favourites bar.

genie - recovery

Alternatively, you can select “Restore from Timeline” from the Genie Timeline dashboard.

genie - dashboard

Once Windows Explorer launches the recovery timeline you will notice a timeline below the address bar. Using this you are able to go “back in time” and view deleted files and folders and older versions of files. You can restore any file or folder by using the context menu.

genie - recovery2

Finally, you can also click on “Show Versions” to restore older versions of a file.

genie -versions

Advanced Features

Although the basic settings are sufficient to ensure all your data is backed up, there are a number of advanced settings that allow you to tweak your backup exactly how you want.

Click on File > Preferences to launch the settings panel.

The General tab gives you the option to enable and disable updates.

genie - settings3

The Windows Explorer Enhancement tab gives you the option to show and hide certain files and folders, most importantly the ability to show and hide hidden files and folders.

genie - settings

The Auto-Exclude tab allows you to exclude specific files and folders including “hidden files”. You need to leave this unchecked if you wish to backup your hidden files (such as the AppData folder). The auto-exclude list is quite useful, however I have found it to not work all the time, so be careful when excluding folders.

genie - settings2

Conclusion

Genie Timeline is a robust application providing a speedy method for backing up all your data. The free version is sufficient for most cases, however, the Home and Pro versions do offer some benefits including the ability to encrypt and compress data, the option to specify the backup frequency, the option to automatically purge data when the disc becomes full, the ability to create a Smart Disaster Recovery disc (helpful when your computer has completely crashed) and many other features.

I personally find the timeline view useful when I visually want to see what data I want to recover. It is much easier to flick “back in time” and see what files/folders I previously deleted and then simply restore them. This above all else has made Genie Timeline my default backup application.