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We'll deal with the 'Burn' part of Nero's package first, since it requires less explanation than 'BackItUp'. On activating Nero Express, you're greeted by a very simple and clean interface. It's a world away from the rather complex Nero's of old and while a little of the functionality has been sacrificed for ease-of-use, all the important stuff is still here - just more accessible than ever.
Down the left divide you'll find four icons comprising Data, Music, Videos/Pictures or Image/Project/Copy. Data can be burned to CD, DVD or Blu-ray, Music creates a playable CD and Video a playable DVD. Image/Project/Copy, meanwhile, lets you do a straight copy of a CD or DVD (provided it isn't copy-protected), or burn a disc image or saved project.
It all works as expected and though sometimes the more advanced options aren't intuitively laid out, it's nothing that using the program once or twice won't get you used to.
Despite being incredibly easy to use, Nero's RescueAgent is scary in its effectiveness. First you're given the option to select the location you wish to scan, after which you can choose between a Fast or Deep Scan.
Running a Fast Scan on a much-used 2GB memory stick produced a whopping 8.9GB of recoverable data. Out of these we tried 30 to 40 files, 99 per cent of which were recovered effectively. This is an impressive return, making this a useful for tool for recovering those accidentially deleted photos and other files.
A proper full Windows disk format stumped it though, so this is not a tool for industrial-espionage types. Unfortunately we couldn't test Nero's ability to retrieve data from corrupted or damaged media, since we simply didn't have any.
While the 'Burn' and 'recovery' aspects are fairly straightforward, the BackItUp segment is far more complex. You'll definitely want to give the manual a read, as there's a variety of options and functions which are not always transparent.
From the 'Home Page', which is accessible through an icon at all times, you can choose to Backup, Restore or Sync any file, folder or drive either manually or automatically, once or on a schedule. After making a backup, Nero can verify it to check for any corrupted or missing files. Activities are divided into Backups and Jobs, which can be saved, deleted, cancelled and resumed.
Overall BackItUp's interface is fairly intuitive, with four tabs along the top (Backup, Restore, Sync and Tools) making navigation simple. As already mentioned though, some of the options could have been a bit better-explained. When starting a synchronisation job, for example, you're asked to choose between Mirror, Copy, Update, Enhance or Add types, which unlike many of the more straightforward options in Nero aren't explained by tool-tip help and can be a bit confusing.
It might also take some people a bit of reading to find out what exactly the difference is between syncing and backing-up, since the two functions overlap in many ways. Happily, the included help-files do explain everything quite well, with the additional aid of diagrams.