While it had no problem recognising external USB drives, Nero's software failed to identify a hard drive hooked up through eSATA as external, claiming it unsuitable for backup purposes because it "cannot be unconnected". Aside from this, the only major complaint is BackItUp's progress bars and timers, which can be very inaccurate when dealing with large volumes.
To be honest though, these are relatively minor niggles in what is overall a comprehensive package. Backups can be scheduled by time and date, when your PC is idle, when it boots up or when you log on. You can also set the software to shut your machine down again once it's done.
Various types of backup include Full (self-explanatory), Differential (saves only files changed since the first backup), Incremental (saves only files changed since the last backup) and Update, where the previous data is simply overwritten with the new data.
After an initial Full backup has been completed, many users will only need the other three. For most the Update option will be the best choice from there on, since it will backup your files in their latest state while using up the least space. Obviously, though, this technique won't allow for older backups to be recalled.
Once backed-up, data can be compressed, encrypted and password secured, meaning it will take up less space than the original files and only be readable to whoever has the password.
The syncing process is one of the simplest around, too. You are presented with left and right 'folders', each of which you can point to a folder or an entire drive. Then you can choose to mirror, copy, update, enhance or add files, as well as set parameters to handle file conflicts, such as keeping the right or left file or asking what to do in each individual instance. In our tests, syncing actually took less time than a simple Windows Vista 'copy', which is a good advert for the speed and efficiency of Nero's effort.
Other functionality of BackItUp, found under the Tools tab, includes creating an ImageTool disc (basically a recovery disc for if your PC won't boot from its hard drive anymore) and optical disc erasure, a doubled function it shares with the Burn part of the package.
At £30 for the download version of Nero BackItUp & Burn, this package is affordable, generally easy to use and still flexible enough to satisfy most consumers - if you don't need the extra features Nero 9 Suite offers. BackItUp and RecueAgent alone are worth the price of admission.
However, one area which is not at all good value is the subscription-based online storage, of which you get a three-month trial that gives you a measly 1GB of online backup. Not only do any of a range of free online storage suppliers offer far more space than this, but the yearly £29.99 you're expected to pay for 5GB (or £80 for 25GB) once the trial runs out is simply not worth the integration with Nero's software - especially since other specialised online backup services give you unlimited space for only around £40p/a.
Overall, Nero BackItUp & Burn is worth its £30 asking price. Though a lot of the functionality it offers can be found in various freeware programs, the package's integration and largely intuitive interface elevate Nero's solution to a step above. If you want to backup, synchronise, recover and burn data, it's definitely worth checking out.