Backups are critical on every level of computing. Whether you are a single user or the administrator of hundreds (or thousands) of business-level machines, you need to be able to back up your data. But data isn't always the only target for backup. What about your e-mail client or your Web browser?
Imagine all that critical information disappearing from either your inbox or your bookmarks. Yes, you could opt for a full-blown back-up solution where the entire PC is backed up. The only problem with that solution is that it is far more time consuming, resource intensive, and complicated than a single application backup.
This is where a new, open source solution called MailBrowserBackup comes in. It's also the perfect solution for when you need to reformat and reinstall your OS but don't want to lose those inboxes and bookmarks. This application is elegant, simple, reliable, and ready to satisfy your mail client and Web browser back-up needs.
MailBrowserBackup is still in beta and currently works only for Thunderbird, Firefox, Google Chrome, SRWare Iron, and FileZilla FTP Client (all in Windows). The next release, however, will support Internet Explorer, Windows Mail, Apple Safari, Opera Browser, and eMule, as well as Firefox and Thunderbird in Linux. You can also back up and restore multiple profiles simultaneously.
This blog post is also available in PDF format in a free TechRepublic download.
Getting and installing
Because MailBrowserBackup is a self-contained executable binary file, the installation is very simple. Before you attempt to do this, make sure you have the .NET Framework 2.0 or better installed for either Windows XP or Vista. Once you have met the requirements, you are ready to "install" MailBrowserBackup.
The first step is to download the MailBrowserBackup Zip file from the developer's site. Once you have that file on your drive, unzip it and you will have a new directory called MailBrowserBackup. Inside this directory will be two files:
- ReadMe - A little information about the application
- MailBrowserBackup - The executable binary file
You can run MailBrowserBackup from wherever you have placed the file. You might, however, want to put the executable file in a place where it might not accidentally get deleted. I keep a special folder for applications like this in my home directory.
Once you have this file placed, you can right-click the file and select Pin to Start Menu, which will place an entry for MailBrowserBackup in your Start menu. You could also opt to just place a shortcut for MailBrowserBackup in your QuickLaunch bar. You do this in the same way as you pin the file to the Start menu only you select Add to Quick Launch.
Now that MailBrowserBackup is installed, it's time to use it.
Backing up with MailBrowserBackupBacking up your e-mail client and your Web browser couldn't be any easier. When you open MailBrowserBackup, you will be greeted by the main (and only) window (Figure A).
It's apparent from the grayed-out boxes what the developer plans to support in the next release.
The first thing you need to know is that any application you plan on backing up must be closed. So close either Firefox or Thunderbird before you start the backup. If you do not close the applications before you run MailBrowserBackup, you will get a warning and a chance to close the application before the backup starts. Once those are closed, you can select what you want to back up from the check boxes. Make your selection and then click the Backup window. You will be prompted for a location to place the back-up file.
Once the backup is complete, you will have an .mbb file for whatever application you backed up. Each back-up file has a date appended to the application name, so if you back up Firefox on 4/1/2009, the file name will be Firefox_4-1-2009.mbb. After the backup is complete, you can exit the application by hitting the Quit button.
To restore either your e-mail client or your Web browser, you select what you are restoring, click the Restore button, locate your back-up file, and click Open. Of course, you have to make sure the application you are restoring is not currently open. If it is open, close it before running the restore.
An application like this has been a long time in coming. It's the perfect solution for backing up the two most-used applications on your PC. And soon the usability of this application will grow exponentially as Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, and Windows Mail are supported.
If you are looking for an application to help you migrate or back up an e-mail box or bookmarks, this is the one you have been waiting for.
Read our field-tested reviews of hardware and software in TechRepublic's Product Spotlight newsletter, delivered each Thursday. We explain who would use the product and describe what problem the product is designed to solve. Automatically sign up today!
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.