BOUNCEBACK ULTIMATE INSTANT PC RECOVERY
Reviewed November 2010
|What's It Do?
BounceBack Ultimate Instant PC Recovery creates a
of the primary hard drive, enabling the user to start the
Windows operating system from an external USB drive. It provides
automatic backup of system changes; customized preferences in
backup scheduler; immediate access to files; backup to any USB
hard drive, secondary storage devices, network drive, or to
multiple destinations at the same time; and, it synchronizes
backup data between two computers.
Does It Do What It Promises?
Reviewer 1 - Dana Cardwell: Yes, BounceBack
Ultimate does provide instant PC recovery from a main hard drive
failure as well as providing continuous backup copies of
selected data files.
Reviewer 2 - Dana Bostick: BounceBack Ultimate
is essentially a "disaster recovery" application that makes a
constantly updated clone of the computer hard drive on an
external USB drive. In my testing, it does exactly this.
Installation of this product adds an option to the start up
screen called "Instant PC Recovery Drive" to either boot Windows
normally or boot from the backup media.
Reviewer 3 - Peter Royle: Not really.
BounceBack Ultimate is one of the easier to use backup programs
that I have tried, and does a good job of backing up and
restoring files and folders. All worked well until I tried to
restore the System Drive. It did not turn out as expected (see
Reviewer 4 - Mark Snyder: Yes. The developer,
CMS Products, makes only a single claim: BounceBack®
Ultimate Instant PC Recovery software creates a complete clone
of your computer's primary hard drive and enables you to start
your Windows operating system from an external USB hard drive.
It does this easily, and more.
Was It Easy To Install?
Reviewer 1 - Dana Cardwell: Yes, the provided
CD ran and installed BounceBack Ultimate without any problems or
conflicts. Input of the key included in the CD box activated
BounceBack Ultimate without any complications. It should be
noted that BounceBack Ultimate installation and operation
requires .NET framework. This did not pose any problems for me
as my system has .NET installed on it. Registration was a little
confusing as the link to register is to the home page of CMS
(maker of BounceBack Ultimate). After finding product
registration under Support I was able to register the program.
Reviewer 2 - Dana Bostick: Yes, the software
was installed from physical media (CD). It installed quickly and
with the provided key registration over the internet is handled
during the installation process. On first run, it must be
pointed to the chosen backup drive so have it ready.
Reviewer 3 - Peter Royle: Yes. Installation was
done directly from a CD. The EULA (End Users Licence Agreement)
can be printed and was short, without much of the legalese
usually found in these documents. According to the EULA, "You
may install and use one copy of the software on your computer.
In addition you may install the software on any additional
computers for the purpose of backup, restore or accessing data
stored on your backup device only". I am not sure that this
is true, as I was unable to activate the program on an
additional computer which I thought was already registered.
Unlike most programs these days, BounceBack Ultimate did not
allow me to choose where I would store the program and its
files. Nor was I asked if and where I wanted to put any
shortcuts. The version that we had on the CD also attempted to
install a number of programs and services that would load when
the computer is starting up. I object to programs that do this;
at the very least, each and every start-up program or service
should be announced and explained, and the user should be
allowed to decide whether or not to have these programs and
services running all the time that the computer is on.
The licence code had to be typed in; copy-and-paste does not
work. Registering on the Web site was a process that I found
rather too complicated, requiring that I answer many questions.
Even though I thought that I had registered properly, when I
needed to log in for an update, I had to reregister all over
again. The Update process turned out to be onerous indeed (see
Reviewer 4 - Mark Snyder: Yes. It is a
relatively large 54.72MB file which was installed from a boxed
CD which I would recommend unless using a relatively fast
broadband connection. Installation and set-up was smooth and
easy using a standard point-and-click Wizard with minimal
configuration needed by the user, since in most instances the
default settings will be appropriate. There was a rather
standard EULA (End User License Agreement) allowing for use of
the program on a single machine with a 30-day trial, and the
EULA was written in plain English with a minimum of legalese.
The program uninstalled easily, leaving only one folder and nine
Reviewer 1 - Dana Cardwell: In the help file
accessed through the program, BounceBack Ultimate provides easy
to understand instructions of how to accomplish any task.
Graphic displays of the screens in BounceBack Ultimate with
designating arrows makes learning how to use the program easy
even for a beginner. Specific questions that are not covered by
the questions and answers in the knowledge base can be submitted
on the Web site.
BounceBack Ultimate provides two basic types of backup: complete
system or cloning (as referred to by some users) and data only.
There are various options with each of these types of backup as
well as different use for each type of backup. My experiences
with each of these types of backup will be related separately.
Complete system backup is for those situations where the main
HDD dies (the main HDD is the one with the operating system and
programs installed on and from which one normally boots the PC.)
Note that I did not say "if it dies" but rather "when it dies"
because all HDDs will die if used long enough. What I especially
like about BounceBack Ultimate over other backup software I have
used is the Instant PC recovery. There are many other backup
programs that can clone the HDD and transfer that clone image to
a new HDD, but BounceBack Ultimate not only does that but also
allows one to boot up from the clone and use the PC until a new
HDD is installed. This is a nice feature as most users don't
have a spare HDD and use of their PC is delayed until a new HDD
is obtained. I do have spare HDDs and I tested this function on
my system, simulating a HDD failure of my main HDD. BounceBack
Ultimate formatted my external USB drive and transferred the
42.1 GB on my main HDD to this external USB drive in 1 hour and
23 minutes. I used a file comparison program to confirm that an
exact clone was made with a few slight file changes for the
recovery options that did not effect my operation or data. I
booted to the USB external drive. My system performed just as
the original HHD with a few slight exceptions. BounceBack
Ultimate had replaced my background with a BounceBack Recovery
background. The system took longer to boot up due to data
transfer through a USB port rather than a SATA (Serial Advanced
Technology Attachment) connection. The limitation of the USB
port data transfer did cause some performance hits, but
BounceBack Ultimate does indicate this in their instructions and
on their Web site. I also had Internet access and could edit and
amend any data file. I installed a new internal HDD and
performed the recovery from the USB external drive. The recovery
took a little longer than the original backup. When I booted to
the new internal HDD, my system performed as if nothing had
happened at all.
Data backup using BounceBack Ultimate can be performed manually,
scheduled, or continuously (similar to scheduled but in minutes
rather than weekly or monthly). All data backups have the
options of verification and encryption. Verification adds to the
backup time but much less than the time taken to perform the
backup. Encryption adds to the backup time but is well worth the
extra time if the external HDD backed to could be lost or
stolen. Encrypted files open slower due to the encryption
process. Restoring backup data is a simple process and allows
restoring only those files or folders desired.
BounceBack Ultimate backups all files in the format in which
they were created. Unlike many other backup software that put
backup files in a proprietary format that require the backup
program to view the file, backup files by BounceBack Ultimate do
not require BounceBack Ultimate to view the files. I could use
BounceBack Ultimate to backup files to an external HDD, hook
that external HDD to another PC, and access the files without
BounceBack Ultimate being installed on the second PC.
Reviewer 2 - Dana Bostick: BounceBack Ultimate
is a great way to set up a full hard disk backup system that can
be truly "hands-off" and that runs automatically. It also makes
upgrading a hard drive a very simple process by launching from
the mirrored image and restoring the backup to the new drive.
One of the things I appreciated was BounceBack's prominent
warning: "The selected device will be repartitioned and
formatted immediately. Any data on the drive will be permanently
destroyed" although I found this caution technically
incorrect. The backup drive device I chose, a 500 GB USB
external drive, had already been partitioned into several
segments. In using BounceBack, I had established a dedicated
partition for its use and simply pointed BounceBack at that
partition. It worked fine and did not repartition the entire
drive or wipe any data contained in the other partitions. This
particular process does require some knowledge and ability to
implement that the average user may not have, so the warning is
still relevant. Failing to heed the warning could result in
unintended data loss.
BounceBack makes restoring the saved a backup fairly easy by
adding an entry on the startup screen to launch the backup
rather than launch from the internal hard drive. Additionally,
it can be set up to run automatically to mirror the internal
hard drive's contents every 60 minutes, providing a very fresh
backup set that essentially eliminates almost any data loss due
to a hard drive crash. BounceBack makes restoring the saved a
backup fairly easy by adding an entry on the startup screen to
launch the backup rather than launch from the internal hard
drive. While this is a very useful function, it can also have
unintended consequences which I discovered while testing it on
my Vista laptop (see Weak Points).
BounceBack's user interface is very clean and intuitive. Easy to
navigate, it has large clearly labeled buttons or tabs that were
simple to understand. I did not need any documentation to figure
out how to use it. It was pretty straightforward.
Many backup solutions create proprietary backup sets that
contain all of the backup data crammed into one huge file that
is not assessable without using the original software that
created it. If one no longer has access to the original
software, the backup created with it may be useless as well.
With BounceBack, I can open the backup set on the external drive
and browse its directory structure the same as if I was looking
at the internal drive. Should I need a single folder or file, it
is available without needing to do a complete restore.
Reviewer 3 - Peter Royle: BounceBack Ultimate
is very easy to use -- it is probably the simplest back-up
program that I have yet tried. The GUI (Graphical User
Interface: the program's Windows and Screens where you tell it
what you want it to do) is simple, uncluttered and clear. My
only suggestion would be to make the "www cmsproducts.com"
button on the BounceBack Control Center window to be an active
link to the website.
Backing Up is good -- even essential. If nothing else, one
should back up his own data such as photos, research projects,
and other written work; otherwise, this will vanish if the drive
fails. But backing up is not too
useful unless that data can be restored in case of loss.
BounceBack works well in restoring files and folders. On my
first Restore test, I copied a file from one folder on the
original disk to another location. Then I called up the
BounceBack Quick Restore from the System Tray. I clicked my way
through the first few choices, then was presented with an
Explorer tree, showing my two partitions as two new drives on
the target drive where everything had been backed up.
The file that I had moved showed up in its correct,
original location except that it was marked "deleted." I
retreated out of BounceBack and, using the "real" Explorer, went
to that backup drive, found the undeleted file, and was able to
restore the "deleted" file to its original location or to
another location as desired. I could also password-protect files
that contain confidential information in the backup.
I found support to be very responsive during the normal
workweek. Unfortunately, responses to support requests were
delayed over the weekend, delaying my ability to resolve a
system problem at that time.
Reviewer 4 - Mark Snyder: While there are many
good points with this software, the one that really matters to
most is ease of use. Those who have not yet backed up their
system have not done so because of the confusion from
complicated programs and unanswered questions:: What files
should be backed up, how often should backups be done, can the
computer be used while making backups, if the computer crashes
or the hard drive fails, can the system be restored from the
backups, if the computer won't boot can it be booted from the
backup, is a backup or a disc imaging program needed, is disc
imaging the same as mirroring or cloning, and so on. All too
frequently, disk imaging backup programs are not bootable or
require creating a bootable disk using an .ISO image or
something called "Barts PE". Fortunately, BounceBack Ultimate
BounceBack Ultimate ends the confusion and risk. While
expensive, it makes the entire process simple. Purchase an
external hard drive (now readily available for under $50.00),
plug it into a USB port, install the BounceBack program, allow
it to make a full back up when it prompts, leave it running in
continuous data protection mode if desired, and, in about one
minute per the amount of GB used, a complete copy is made of the
entire operating system. If it becomes necessary to replace the
hard drive or the hard drive fails and the computer can't be
booted into Windows, one or two clicks will boot up from the
external hard drive and it can be used to restore the entire
operating system on a new hard drive. This worked in my testing
every time using a variety of external hard drive brands. I
would recommend using a new external hard drive for this purpose
because BounceBack Ultimate will reformat and partition an
existing external hard drive, erasing anything stored there.
With a minor investment, one can create what BounceBack
describes as a "spare tire" for the PC so that, if anything goes
wrong, it can be restored and running with all data in a matter
There are other features to this program:
It has one of the simplest-some people make fun of its
"cartoonish" look-user interfaces I have seen. It is rather like
looking at a car radio from the eighties. With only five large,
fully labeled buttons, it is very easy to use and no help manual
It uses a "throttling" technology that holds down the use of
one's CPU while it is running so that the computer can be used
while the program is running without any serious slowdown. I
noticed no slowdown on my system and only increased CPU usage
when it was backing up the Windows Registry, a very intensive
There are a variety of user specific configurations that can be
made, including incremental backups, scheduling backups, making
backups of only specific folders, versioning by allowing the
program to running continuously for backups of any changes as
often as once every minute if desired.
Free support is available via a support ticket/email procedure
as well as through a user manual that can be downloaded as well
as a FAQ. Direct support is promised within 24 hours, but my
requests produced a response in a matter of a few hours at most.
Reviewer 1 - Dana Cardwell: While the
continuous backup is a super safety feature and the makers claim
that BounceBack Ultimate will throttle down the backup when the
PC is in use, I did see a performance hit with this feature
enabled. The continuous backup also posed some conflicts with
other scheduled tasks such as defragmentation.
The scheduled backups need a daily choice to fill the gap
between continuous and weekly. Because I read my email daily, my
current backup program is scheduled for daily backups.
The developer's VP of
Engineering, Les Kristof, replied: There were several
comments regarding the Continuous Data Protection mode having a
max selection of 60 minutes. In the newer version of the
software, this has been extended to allow 8 hours in between
Reviewer 2 - Dana Bostick: When BounceBack is
running in its scheduled mode, it prevents the computer from
remaining in standby mode. This may not be a big issue on a
desktop but could have disastrous consequences on laptop. There
is a provision that can be set to close the program at the end
of the operation and also to shutdown the computer.
Unfortunately, there is no provision to put the computer back
into standby and therein is the problem on a laptop. One
possible solution might be to provide the ability to set the
backup frequency to a longer time period. Currently, the longest
time block is 60 minutes. That is too short for a laptop that
needs to travel as laptops are meant to do. I think this is an
oversight that could be easily corrected and should be. This
might sacrifice a little "freshness" of the backup set but when
compared to destroying a laptop because it came out of standby
and continued to run in a fully awake state while closed in a
computer case or backpack, it is a worthwhile sacrifice. I also
did not like that the program ignored my default browser
selection and insisted on launching Internet Explorer for the
registration process, which in my case required installing Adobe
Flash Player for IE, a browser that I rarely choose to use or
keep updated. This is an annoyance and an unappreciated waste of
time and resources.
Reviewer 3 - Peter Royle: When first using the
program, one needs to be aware that the target drive (the one
that will be used to store a System Restore backup on) will be
used exclusively for BounceBack. This is made clear with the
following warning: The Drive, to which you will send all
your data (the one where your backup will be stored) will be
reformatted, repartitioned and any data on it will be destroyed.
This required that I make a drive available specifically for
this program. Additionally, as far as I can understand,
BounceBack can only clone one physical hard drive, with all its
partitions, of course, but it is still just one physical drive.
Following the recommendations on the first run of this program,
I accepted the defaults for a full system backup and found that
all the partitions on the drive that I was backing up would be
included and both my partitions would be copied onto the USB
drive. This is not what I had expected and one of the partitions
has no information on it that needs to be backed up in this
manner. More explanation of the results of my choices needs to
be provided. The full backup took about an hour and a quarter.
At 95 GB, it is, by today's standards, a relatively small drive.
Some now have much larger main drives - 250 GB or more - divided
into several partitions. If one's hard drive fails, only the
partition that actually failed need be restored.
When I tried to do a System Restore, I had to first boot from
the BounceBack CD, and from then on I followed the prompts. I
selected the USB drive, with its two partitions as the Source
Drive, and the C:\ and F:\ drives as the two that needed to be
restored. The restore process took about the same amount of time
as the System Backup had taken. When BounceBack announced that
the restore had been successful, I rebooted the computer as
instructed. When it finally appeared, I was puzzled to find a
new desktop, with a large "Instant PC Recovery" sun-like icon in
the middle of the sky, over a kind of metallic ocean. I found
myself running under BounceBack in "Recovery" mode. My C:\ drive
was no longer named "Main" as before, but "BB". A window
appeared now, allowing me to "Continue" in this Recovery mode,
or to "Launch the Recovery Process." I though that I had already
done that. When I selected "Launch Recovery Process", I find
that the only drive I could "recover" to was the other drive
installed in the computer, which acted as my data drive. I had
to continue running the computer under the BounceBack Recovery
The developer's VP of
Engineering, Les Kristof, replied: Unfortunately, Mr.
Royle did not follow suggested procedures. Obviously, Mr.
Royle's actions were influenced by what appears to be his
favorite competing program's methodology. What he should have
done was to boot from the external USB hard drive, then select
restore option from the menu and rebuild the existing or newly
installed drive in his PC. What he ended up doing was "cloning"
his external drive and using that for the internal. Since it was
a clone, it presented itself as the "Recovery Disk", asking him
if he wanted to restore. The only effect of this mistake was the
system's display of the recovery wallpaper, which is very easy
The main Help file has a couple of weaknesses: In the Section
describing Backup and Restore, there is the following statement:
For creating a Full System Backup (recommended) upon
installation, please refer to the Quick Start Guide.
However, there is no Quick Start Guide (or I could not find it)
in the Main Help File. But is located in the Web site. There
should be a hyperlink for the Quick Start Guide and the
BounceBack Ultimate Disaster Recovery Guide. References to
features that were either present or lacking in the other
versions were distracting. The Help file does not need to tell
me what is missing or available in the other versions that I
have not purchased. If, for example, I have the Express Version,
instructions about doing a System Backup that is not available
to me would be annoying. At the same time, if I have the
Ultimate Version, I do not need reminding that a System Backup
is not available in Express.
While I was testing the program, I had to update it from the
version I had received on CD to a newer version that I had to
download from the site. To have access to the downloadable
version, I first had to go to the Web site and download the most
recent trial version and I had to complete a long online form.
Actually, I had to do this more than once, as my original effort
to register seems not to have worked properly, in spite of a
confirmation email that I had registered successfully. Once I
had downloaded the file, I had to completely uninstall
BounceBack from my computer. While this may have worked, it
provoked one of those "Send Error Report to Microsoft" windows.
Then, I had to reinstall the program from the beginning,
including entering the activation code. Finally, I had to do a
new, complete system backup. I hope that the developers will
take a careful look at this procedure, as it is far too complex
for a simple update that did not seem to make any significant
changes in the way the program operates.
Reviewer 4 - Mark Snyder: I found no particular
flaw in the program itself. It would be nice if the program
might allow in the future the ability to transfer back-ups
between external drives, and it does need some type of
compression which it now lacks. A 100GB image/backup takes up
100GB of space on the external drive and these files will get
unwieldy to say the least.
The developer's VP of
Engineering, Les Kristof, replied: Mr. Snyder suggests
compression for files, but this would eliminate one of the best
features of the product, instant access to the files on the
backup drive without using the backup software. One should keep
in mind that it's possible to take the BounceBack external
backup disk, install it in the host PC or laptop and use it as
the new main drive. Compression or other adulteration of the
files would preclude this option
Reviewer 1 - Dana Cardwell: Backup speed with
BounceBack Ultimate depends mostly upon the speed of the
external HDD. One of my external HDD is faster than the others
and I backed up 58.9 GB in 1 hour 9 minutes while it took 1 hour
23 minutes to backup 42.1 GB to another external HDD.
Reviewer 2 - Dana Bostick: BounceBack can be
set up to run in automated mode with a maximum duration of 60
minutes between backups. That would require a continuous
connection to the backup media and that BounceBack be running in
the system tray. There is a selection in the options menu to
"Launch on connection" that might be a workable solution to the
laptop problem noted in Weak Points, but launching a backup
application on connection and running for 30 minutes or more in
the background consuming resources is not a great idea. In
combination with software that monitors disk load and CPU use
continuously, the impact on resources is quite noticeable.
On the upside, I did find BounceBack's user interface very clean
and intuitive. It was very easy to navigate, with large clearly
labeled buttons or tabs that were simple to understand. I did
not find myself needing to dig into any documentation to figure
out how to use it.
The CMS Products Web site offers a number of solutions for
backing up data including several "complete solutions", with
kits containing an external hard drives and any necessary cables
as well as the program itself. They also offer a number of
business solutions including encrypted backups (AES 256 bit - on
the fly) and server system backup solutions.
Reviewer 3 - Peter Royle: Perhaps I had a
mistaken idea of what a System Restore would do; I expected that
it would restore the Main boot drive to the exact same status as
it had been when the System Backup had been created. I did not
expect at all to be running at all times under the control of
the BounceBack program. To be fair, all the programs were there,
although a few had lost some of their settings. The computer
still functioned as the print server for the others on my local
network. In order to get my computer back to its original state,
with all my drives in their normal, functioning state, I had to
use my usual backup program, and restore its image of the C:\
I found a few other drawbacks as well. I have a Drive Restore
Program that can rescue a mangled drive and recover most of the
files that seem to be irretrievably lost. It costs $20 more than
BounceBack Ultimate, and they provide 24/7/365 Support,
including direct connection with support staff, amongst other
methods. BounceBack support, while it is alright, does not match
that. I also use another imaging backup program that allows me
to back up complete drives and/or partitions, and with a
Recovery CD, rebuild a crashed system drive either to the
original drive or a new one. Using that imaging program, I do
not need to set aside a dedicated specific drive. I can use any
drive with enough space on it for both backups and images,
system or otherwise, and have all sorts of other data on that
same drive that is totally unrelated to that backup program.
Although I am clearly not happy with the System Restore, it is
important to say that BounceBack Ultimate does provide both a
system backup, which can be used to restore ones bootup drive to
a functional (though strange) pre-crash state, as well as a
robust backup program for one's data and other important files.
So, it does provide an all-in-one set of features. For myself, I
will continue to use my current imaging program for system
recovery purposes, along with some very good backup programs
which do just that - make extra sets of and keep good track of
all my data files.
Reviewer 4 - Mark Snyder: I am totally at a
loss why everyone does not know of this software. If they did, I
am quite sure other backup programs. would have all but
disappeared. This is the program that everyone is always looking
for: an instant recovery of an entire hard drive that is also
fully bootable from the external drive. I know of no other
programs that do this as completely and as easily, if at all, at
any cost. This is a must-have program for every computer and I
highly recommend it.
Will you continue to use it?
1- Dana Cardwell:
I still am undecided. I definitely like
some of the features of BounceBack Ultimate, but I am concerned
about the daily backups and weekly full system backups that I
Reviewer 2 - Dana Bostick: Yes. I
have used quite a few backup solutions and BounceBack Ultimate
is one I will continue to use primarily due to the clean user
interface, ease of use, and the full availability of the
individual files and folders in the backup set.
Reviewer 3 - Peter Royle: No.
Reviewer 4 - Mark Snyder:
Absolutely. In fact, it is going to be a Christmas gift for some
OPERATING SYSTEMS USED IN THIS REVIEW
Windows Vista Home Premium, XP Pro, Home, XP Media Center