Review – Secure File PDA Backup from MDM (Multi-platform)

by Reads (5,067)


Secure PDA Backup published by MDM provides a quick, easy backup solution for Palm OS- and Pocket PC-based devices equipped with an SD/MMC expansion slot.  The program provides the ability to customize the content of the backup and offers data compression, encryption, and password protection.  Overall, the program performs adequately, but there are plenty of other options for back up software, and flash memory is becoming less expensive.  The question becomes: at $49.95 is the Secure File PDA Backup card worth the price?

IMPRESSIONS
The listed price for Secure PDA Backup is $49.95 (USD).  Although a quick price check indicates that prices for Secure File PDA Backup currently range from $41-$50 (USD) through various online dealers.  That would be excessive for a PDA backup program, but you are also getting 64 MB of flash memory as well.  Secure PDA backup, as tested on three Palm OS devices, also allows you to choose which PIM applications are backed up and which individual files are included in that back up.  Your backups are password protected for security and can be encrypted for additional security.  You can also set your backup files to be compressed, theoretically saving space on the memory card.  I say theoretically because when tested, the actual file compression was minimal on all three devices tested (see table below).  There were some problems experienced when using Secure File PDA Backup on the Palm OS test units.  Insertion or removal of the card sometimes produced ‘fatal errors’ that required a soft reset to correct.  This was experienced only on Palm OS 5 (versus the  Palm OS 4) devices, and more frequently on the T3 device so I suspect this may not be the software’s fault.  The MMC format was a bit more tricky to install in one of the SD/MMC expansion slots tested, than was an SD card. The Secure File PDA Backup MM card is thinner than SD- compatible slots and needed to be aligned toward the back of the expansion slot.  Secure File PDA Backup also does not have some of the features of its competitors such as scheduled backups and the ability to save multiple backup files.

Device Used
Uncompressed File Size
Compressed File Size
Space Savings
Tungsten T3
31.8 MB
29.2 MB
 8%
Zire 71
12.4 MB
11.7 MB
6%
Treo 90
5.3 MB
5.2 MB
2%
Compression yielded a modest memory savings of 2-8% of the backup file size (0.1 – 2.6 MB).

  
 

 
Palm OS version of Secure File PDA Backup screens.

     
Secure File PDA Backup screens for the Pocket PC OS.

Is Secure File PDA Backup worth the listed price of $49.95 or even $41?  For most people, it is not.  Those willing to pay a premium for the modest convenience of software preloaded on an expansion card will not be disappointed by Secure File PDA Backup.  It meets their need for expediency and is an adequate backup program.  Everyone else, is best served by downloading trial versions of several backup programs to find one that best suits one’s needs.  Most of these downloadable programs list at $8-$15 (USD) and range from basic capability to some of the best backup software available.  If you need or want additional flash memory, 64 MB costs around $30-$35 (USD) as of this writing, 128 MB is $40-$45 (USD).  Note that these prices are for true SD format cards, not the older MMC format that Secure File PDA Backup uses.  If you have the option of using compact flash cards, additional memory is even less expensive.

SUMMARY
The Secure File PDA Backup program is a working backup solution and its installation on a memory card is convenient, but at $49.95 (USD) it costs too much to be considered a fair deal.  Considering that the memory card included is MMC format and not true SD format, makes the deal a bit worse.  Although the MMC format is typically compatible with SD expansion slots, the SD format is an improvement over MMC.  Finally, the modest memory savings achieved by the compression option during testing make this a dubious feature.  If you can get a Secure File PDA Backup card for $30-$35, consider it.  Otherwise, check out your options for backup software at your favorite online software store.  If you want to get feel for what it would be like using Secure File PDA Backup, it is most like Botzam Backup ($14.95 USD).

PROS
– Quick, easy, integrated backup capability
– Secure backups (password protected and encrypted)

CONS
– More expensive than combination of software and memory
– No option for multiple backups
– No option for scheduled backups
– On an Multi-Media card rather than a Secure Digital card

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