Genie Timeline 2.0: Quality Free Backup For All

Timeline LogoA lot of people have been asking where I’ve been the past several months: why the blog has been void of updates, why EasyBCD 2.0 is taking so long, why the image gallery still hasn’t been properly updated, and so on and so forth. With university was over and done with, I was supposed to have more time on my hands to dedicate to NeoSmart Technologies. If I had to point the finger of blame, it would rest squarely on Genie Timeline 2.0.

For the past year, Genie-Soft (my current employer) has been working on a revolutionary new — and free — backup program. Anyone that has ever searched for a professional backup solution has probably experienced firsthand just how difficult it can be to find something fast, powerful, and easy to use… and forget about being free, too.

Timeline 2 pushes the idea of “constant data protection” with real-time monitoring of changes to your data and intelligently scheduled backups of your files. You don’t schedule backups, they just happen in response to the modifications you make. You just run Timeline in the background, and you’re instantly protected. Files are versioned, clustered, and indexed then intelligently purged as needed to save space.

In geek terms, Timeline most-closely resembles a hybrid between version control systems and backup software. Like any good version control system, GTL keeps versions of all your old files, uses block-level differential backup for larger files such as PSTs, and tracks changes on the individual file level. But the entire process is automated and the all the capabilities and features are hidden behind an ostensibly simple GUI, with a web interface that lets you search all backed up data instantly.

Of course, this isn’t an unbiased recommendation: I’ve been part of the Timeline development team from and am responsible for some of the lower-level components. Over the past year, I’ve learned a lot designing and implementing some really incredible features in Timeline. Don’t let the simple interface fool you, there’s a lot of technology and sheer power under the hood… and this is what’s been keeping me busy.

Timeline 2.0 is available 100% for free, making it a must-have for any Windows users out there looking to protect their data. With the price of external disks at an all-time low and the value of digital data skyrocketing upwards, there’s no excuse to not have backups of your software. Especially now that it won’t even cost you a dime.

Download Genie Timeline 2.0 Free

Everyone at Genie-Soft has worked endlessly to make the Timeline experience as smooth and delightfully easy as possible. Of course, no software is perfect and while Genie Timeline may look deceivingly simple, it is incredibly complex under the hood. Please let us know what you think and share how your Timeline experience goes.

I have free licenses of Genie Timeline Pro to give away to feedback and comments on the software – but you need to install it and comment below to qualify. If you liked or didn’t like Timeline, share your notes here, tell us what you’d do with your copy of Pro, and get a free upgrade. Free licenses also available for incoming links. Genie Timeline Pro adds Disaster Recovery, advanced filters, encryption, purging, and advanced restore to an already powerful product.

Update (4/12/10):

The initial wave of free licenses is over. I still have several more licenses to give, but no guarantees…

111 thoughts on “Genie Timeline 2.0: Quality Free Backup For All

  1. I have actually tried many of the free backup solutions – Comodo, Aceback, FBackup and Syncback. Priot to Genie, Syncback was my backup solution of choice, but now I am a convert. Will be using it – hopefully the pro version.

  2. I have been testing the evaluation version of Timeline Pro for the trial period, and for the most part I am impressed: I like the way it automatically gets my latest changes and copies them to my NAS; I like that it encrypts my backups, and seems to work quite well in the background without slowing down my system; I like that there is also a free version I can use on my wife’s computer. But I have a couple of issues: I cannot get the thing to make a successful disaster recovery option for me. It just fails on the USB key (8GB) without telling me why, and it does nothing when I try to create an iso image; also, I’d like to see an option when I travel for cloud backup… I know I can make that my primary backup source, but I just want it to do small incremental backups there while I travel, and keep my primary backup destination as my NAS at home.

  3. Hi Ben,

    We’re working on Timeline Online, which backs up to the cloud. It should be available really soon (we’re looking at the 45-60 day window).

    I’ve forwarded your Disaster Recovery problems to tech support, they should be in touch soon.

  4. Thanks Mahmoud,

    I would love a license to Timeline Pro, if you still have any available. As far as Timeline Online, would I be able to run that concurrently with Timeline Pro? Because that sounds like it would give me the functionality I’m after.

    Also, I have a question about the disaster recovery (DR): If I didn’t get the DR image built, but have a full backup on my NAS device, could I just install a skeleton copy of windows (skipping activation) and Timeline Pro, and then do a restore that way? Or is DR useless without the USB key or boot disc?

    Thanks!

    Ben

  5. Over the past couple of years, I have bought several highly recommended backup programs only to become frustrated with them after a few months. All were plagued with problems ranging from choosing or excluding files to backup, size of backups, or data integrity issues.

    I had purchased 2 licenses to Genie Backup Manager Pro last year. It wasn’t long before I had to uninstall them due to a combination of performance penalties and how quickly the backups overfilled sizable external drives.

    So, it was with interest, but some skepticism that I read your blog post. I downloaded Timeline Pro for testing and have seen no performance hit and the backup size is the most reasonable that I’ve ever seen.

    My hesitation, and concern, is with Timeline Explorer. When I open Smart Selections, I see some 9 Outlook.pst’s. I have made copies of the file prior to various syncing. In one sense, I’m happy that those files were found. In another sense, it could make it easy to mistakenly restore the wrong file. I changed the default view from Icons to details and it helped to see the Date Modified. Finally right clicking on a file and choosing Properties revealed the original location.

    That leads me to make some suggestions.
    1) have an easy way to show the original location in a column in the Timeline Explorer window.
    2) have the ability to right click a file in that view and choose to exclude it from your backup set.
    3) have an easier to scan backup history. As it is now, the HTML page is much too cumbersome to be useful. Each page only displays 20 files. Each file is 3 rows with a row between files. The row that displays the file location only shows a truncated location even though there is more than enough room in my browser window. At 20 per page, I would have to go through 8809.6 pages! All I wanted to do was verify that what I wanted backed up, was, in fact, backed up.

    Too many times, I had assumed that something was backed up, only to find out later, that it wasn’t included or the backup failed for some reason.

    Still, I’m very impressed so far.

  6. Hi Don,

    Thanks for your feedback – some nice ideas there that I can’t wait to pass on to the team. I’m glad you like what you’ve seen so far – we’ve honestly worked long and hard to make it as intuitive and simply “natural” of a backup program as we could. Obviously some things will slip under the radar, and it’s thanks to posts like yours here that we can address these.

    I especially like the suggestion to add to Timeline Explorer a column that displays its original source path, and it’s a no-brainer to add the already-existing context menu that is shown when browsing in the usual explorer windows to the Timeline Explorer as well. (I’m not sure if you’ve seen, but if you right-click any file in the usual Windows explorer, you can select to include/exclude it from backup depending its current state).

    Perhaps a “search in backup history” or some sort of more advanced grouping/filtering could be worked out, but I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

    You can, of course, always go into “Modify Data Selections” and uncheck your Outlook PSTs for backup until we implement these features in another build :)

    Thanks again!

  7. Well, last evening disaster happened. One of our computers had a data drive fail. Not to worry, everything was neatly backed up. What??? Where did the Outlook pst and archives go?? I had separated OS and programs on one drive and data on a second. With Vista, it was easy(?) to change the physical location of the personal files while maintaining the juction that pointed to the physical location. Open documents and you wouldn’t realize that you were actually opening a directory on a drive or partition other than the default C:. That was the bane of backup programs that tried to automate the selection of my documents, etc. It would backup an empty folder because it would only go as far as C:, it wouldn’t follow the redirect of the juncion.

    For example, it had been common advice to place important folders within My Documents to ensure that they would be backed up. Guess where the folder for the Outlook pst was? Guess what didn’t get backed up?

    But…that was different software. I’d better check the system that has Timeline running. Argh! Here’s where the massive backup history is worthless. It’s too hard to get a quick overview to make sure that everything is backing up the way I wanted.

    Check the Backup Overview and the smart selections only show the file types. But, no way to confirm that the specific files are backed up. I can’t afford the blind trust game again.

    Browsed the timeline explorer. What are these A, B, C folders?? I’ve got to open each one to drill down to the actual files? What a pain!!

    Back to the file selections. Checked a couple of Smart Selections and figured I’d double check and add what was needed from the My Computer tab. There’s a Library’s selection. Opened it and fould many files that I know are on other drives. Documents, for example. BUT…there is no sign of the C: documents. I don’t want to assume that they are selected because I checked My Documents in Smart Selection. After all, the my documents on the data drive were not backed up with the Smart Selection.

    ARGH!! In some respects, I feel as blind as I was trying to use Vista’s built-in backup. You remember…the one that didn’t backup 1/2 of what you expected?

  8. Hi Don,

    How would *you* like to make certain your files are indeed being backed up? You can go to the folder that contains your data and press “View in Timeline Explorer” in order to automatically go to that same path in TE. You can also right-click the file and see if it’s protected (it’ll either say “include” or “exclude” from Timeline backup). Even more exciting, you can enable “Backup Markers” in the Timeline GUI preferences that will display a small circle overlaid over all files indicating their backup status (red/orange/green).

    You can even use the in-built “search” feature to check for a specific file or folder directly be querying its name.

    We’re open to any other suggestions, but perhaps some of the points I mentioned above will solve your problem?

  9. I’ve been a beta tester for several programs on an ongoing basis, so that critical eye may be at work. I’m enjoying our conversation, but certainly understand if you’d rather carry on by email rather than dominating your blog.

    What I would like is a way to get a quick overview of what is and is not protected. The best place would be when I am making the choices of what to include. The first thing would be to have the My Computer tab reflect the choices made in the Smart Selection tab.

    To more quickly decide whether it is necessary to expand a drive or folder, it (or the check box) could be color coded. For example, no files protected could be the current grey color. All files within could be green. Some files could be partially green (diagonally?). As you drill down, the folders would continue to reflect whether none, some, or all contained files are selected with the same color scheme. That would eliminate the need to open every folder in the tree, while giving an easy visual.

    There must be a bug with the backup markers. Some files don’t have them while a right click gives the option to exclude. Others have them only to lose them when the system re-boots.

    The Backup Overview by title should give me a quick overview of what is protected. But it is confusing from a user’s point of view. For example, Desktop is shown under Smart Selections, yet several files are shown under the Included Files and Folders. No, they were not also selected in the My Computer tab. They are however immediately above folders that I did select.

    While that is confusing, I do like the way that those files and folders are displayed in a compact way, yet with the full path.

    The Backup History should display in that same way. One per line, with the full path. Without the oversized left column, the full path won’t have to be truncated. And…you could sure get more than 20 items per page! That left column doesn’t need to waste space on every page (over 8000, in my case). I’m sure not going to change the time choice on the 4,000th page. It’s a one time choice to display a report, it can be on it’s own page with a way to easily navigate back to it (or not). That same selection page should allow much finer filtering. By directory, by file type, by… Similarly, I need the sort order to make sense. That probably means being able to change the sort to, at least alphabetical and possibly by size.

  10. I wanted to post an update.

    The backup marker is now showing on the icons of the files that I chose for backup. The issue was/is that the marker is not consistent in its placement on the icon. For some, it is completely below the graphic and on top of the transparent background. On others it is to the bottom left of the graphic with some partly on the graphic and partly on the transparent background, some completely on the graphic, some completely on the transparent background. How visible those markers are depends upon the color behind it and even how detailed the icon is. With win7 some icons can be very detailed images of the document.

    With the markers, I was able to verify the files that I wanted in the backup were included.

    I’d still like to see some indication on folders so I wouldn’t have to open them. I’d also like to see the suggestions that I made for the data selection wizard.

    But, despite those shortcommings, the actual backup and restore seems flawless with little to no performance penalty.

  11. Hi Don,

    Thanks for expanding on your issue..

    I’m glad to hear that the backup markers are indeed working correctly – it would be a major issue if they weren’t! I’ll file a report with the Timeline QA team with regards to the location of the backup marker and have them look into the issue further for our developers. We’re already working on backup markers for folders, we just need to decide the best way to reflect the status of a folder given that at any point of time there will likely be unselected, modified, and fully protected items within any randomly-selected folder.

    There’s something about the Genie Timeline “backup strategy” that you need to understand which makes some of your suggestions difficult. Namely, there are two “layers” of backup: a “filter-based” layer and a “file/folder-based” layer. Smart Selections doesn’t back up its contents by location, it does so by file type. For example, if you select the “Music” smart selection, it doesn’t just go ahead and add a rule for the “My Music” folder – it actually intelligently scans *all* locations on your PC and decides what’s music and what’s not. For instance, it’ll grab those MP3s on your desktop and your Downloads folder, but it’ll ignore the system sounds in the Windows and Program Files directories.

    At the same time, you can explicitly add/remove files and folders for backup via the “My Computer” tab of the data selection wizard, or via the context menu shell integration.

    So you can see why it becomes difficult to provide a pre-generated list of files that have been/will be protected. A lot of that is done via Genie Timeline’s proprietary algorithm “on-the-fly” as new files are created and old files are modified. A scan of the PC is also done and results are sent to the algorithm to determine whether or not a file should be backed up based on the selected Smart Selection profiles plus the explicit file/folder selections.

    This is the cause of the slightly-disconcerting backup overview (though I agree about the spacing and layout – that’ll definitely be revised). You have a mix of real-time decision policies and pre-determined explicitly-set backup/exclude rules, making it impossible to reflect Smart Selections on the “My Computer” page. It’s why we put so much effort into the Backup Markers, because it’s really the most “intuitive” way of checking what’s backed up when there are so many variables involved!

  12. I’m a GBM backup user (2 licenses) for several years and it’s bailed me out a few times. The one reservation I have about Timeline is it limits the backup to a single location – so if the backuped box and the backup box are horked I’m lost. I currently backup each of my PC’s to two three other PC’s on a rotating basis. I’m a pretty careful guy. :)

    Any suggestions?

    Also I thought Craig’s comments and questions on April 17 were interesting. Will you share the replies here?

    Tim Tabor

  13. GTL ist das beste Backup-Programm, dass ich kenne! Einfach eine gro?artige Arbeit!

  14. Hi there, Just installed and ran the Timeline software. Really nice. I’ve been running Paragon and like this one better. I’ve a retired guy with limited resources so I would love a Pro license if you have any left.

    Thanks, I visit your site often and always learn something. Thanks for that.

    Best regards,
    Emil

  15. I have been searching for an efficient program with a simple interface ( I know that is difficult) and with low interference with on going computing programs.
    After several other programs disappointed me I tried Genie Timeline Home 2.

    It was perfect, until I realized it would take 48 hours to back up my PC on an external drive with Genie Time line.

    [C: drive uses 35 GB and D: data drive is 51GB ]

    I can assume that the incremental saves will be quick and efficient, but I have no way of knowing that yet.

    So I shall try your newest product idea Timeline Free to see if it is quicker
    If not…I am not sure what to do!
    Thanks

  16. Peter, by default Timeline runs in something called “Smart Mode” which is a reduced-performance mode to keep you from feeling the impact of backup software making a clone of your entire hard disk, which would normally slow your PC down. As soon as you leave your PC unattended, a screensaver starts, etc. “Turbo Mode” will kick in, which should drastically reduce the amount of time required for the backup to complete. You can also switch it manually by clicking the appropriate link on the homepage interface.

  17. I have tried numerous (mostly free) backup programs and Genie Timeline 2.0 is quite a surprise. Firstly the “Free” tag usually means that the IMPORTANT features are only available on the purchased version. I was pleasantly surprised that the free version’s core is intact and provides a good solid backup program with versionion ( a key feature for me). Secondly, the program is deceptively simple – my only beef is for the relatively technically savy – one has to dig into the help files to be reassured that the program is doing what i HOPE it is doing. So far, so good.

    To be a total solution, I would apprecitate a licence of the Pro verions – specifically for the ‘Disaster Recovery’ functionality.

    Well done on a good program.
    Joe

  18. There just one thing that render this software useless, it cannot run unless you are administrator!

    why do i need to be admin to use this software is beyond my comprehension…

    All computers that i setup i always configure an regular limited account for daily use, and an admin account for the very rare times i need ex:. to install a software.

    It’s a shame, because genie timeline beats any other solution that i tested before, but unfortunately i can’t recommend nor install it to my customers.

  19. Hi, I’ve been looking for a good, preferably freeware backup software for years now. I’ve tried several good products but always found something missing. Too bad you can’t combine the best features of these to make the perfect solution. The best solution I’ve found was the Windows Home Server (WHS) Backup, but you need a server for that (It gets expensive). I’ve often wonder why there wasn’t a similar program to Apples “Time Machine” which seems the ideal solution, then I came across Genie Timeline. I’ve been using it for a couple of weeks now and I must say that I’m impressed. It does pretty much everything I need for a lot less (Free).

    Ps. I know you’ve been out of free upgrade licenses to “pro” for a while, but if you happen to find one laying around, I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks.
    Roger M.

  20. Hi, I’ve just found this product after being a GBM user for a while. I was attracted due the the block-level/differential approach to large PST files. I’ve set up a job (great UI, very logical) but my two PST files just remain in the pending list (2GB and 6GB). I’ve quit everything that may be accessing them and left my machine running for >24hrs but I’m stuck at 99% protected. I thought that the software maybe backing up in background but the DB on my file server isn’t growing. I’m on XP, so is this due to my not having VSS? Any advice would be appreciated. As would a license key ;-)

    I’ve asked here as the Genie9 forums are down and you seem to be the expert anyway.

    Thanks g

  21. Ladies, and Gentlemen,

    I am the Families Keeper. 4 months ago, my basement flooded, and I lost over 3000 handpicked photos of my 3 Beautiful Blond Daughters as they grew up. Also included were pics of my Wife of 23 years through the years. To say the least, I was, and still am, Heartbroken.
    I know have my daughters send me important pics, and I have them Cataloged on my Desktops Slave Drive. This Utility would come in extremely useful when it comes to keeping these precious memories safe and secure. I hardly ever win anything, so I figured if I could explain why I think I deserve the License Key, I just may get it.
    Thank you for your time. Best Wishes.

    Seneca_Flyboy

  22. Hi!
    I’ve been using Genie Free edition for the last 24 hours and am very impressed. I had used formerly NTI Shadow for continuous real time back up, but Genie does that in so much slicker and easier ways I’m delighted!
    I just have two questions:
    1) My backup did not backup all my files from the folder that I asked it to backup. Why?
    2) How do I delete the current backup job and start a new one? Do I simply start a new backup and will that automatically delete the old back job?
    I hope you’ll reply to my questions, as I cannot find a support forum for the free edition. BTW, I hope the free edition (2.0/2.1) is permanently free—and not only for 30 days.
    Thanks.
    If possible can you reply to my email address? Thanks again.

  23. I’m downloading the Timeline software to try it out on my home NAS.

    However, I am very interested, but found few comments, on bare metal recovery. I want software for my computer clients that can recovery from a total hard drive failure from their NAS or WHS or similar.

    Does Genie have a USB image, or CD/DVD boot and restore option? Is that what is meant by disaster recovery?

    If you still have a pro license, I’ll be glad to have it, and happy to report back. If it does not work out for me I’ll uninstall it and delete if you prefer.

    Thanks
    Phillip

  24. Hello Mahmoud,

    First, thank you for taking the time to discuss Genie Timeline on here.

    Having been a avid user and occasional promoter of Genie products in the past, I recently decided to test drive Timeline Free on a non-critical workflow Windows 7 PC, not only to determine whether the product really does offer its own version of what OS X Time Machine is capable of, but to also determine whether it is a product that I might confidently recommend to clients.

    And I must say that, so far, it does appear to be hitting the nail firmly on the head, especially so from the perspective of providing a logical UI in which to access file versions when the tool is called upon to do what it says on the tin, specifically by letting one easily restore needed files from within any system window rather than having to function under duress within the UI of a rarely accessed application window.

    I mentioned OS X Time Machine in particular as I’ve been counting a number of graphics design firms and Mac using medical professionals among my clients for a few years now and have as a result partially gone over to the Apple Mac side myself.

    Ideally, I’d like my Windows PC using clients to experience the same kind of backup, and especially restore, ease on their standalone machines as do the Mac users.

    As such, I would appreciate the opportunity to run the Pro version through the same field trials should you have any copies still available. In return I too would be happy to report back here of my findings.

    Cheers,
    Craig

  25. I have been using timeline for 2 months. It is efficient, I don’t have to think about my backups— they just get done and this selective way to do it really saves space on my external drive. I give it 8 out of 10, simply because I would like to have control over when it backs up increase flexibility on the use of my external drive. I would have liked being able to back up at night or once every week. I find this limitating, but overall I do enjoy it

    I hope this helps!
    Caroline

  26. Hi there,

    Been looking for a backup solution for a whil and last week installed Timeline. Only product I could find that would actually backup up my NAS (Lacie NetworkSpaceMax).

    Looks great so far but I have 2 questions:
    1) After the initial backup up (took a few days and at one point I had to reboot the machine to get timeline out of paused mode) I am left with a scattering of files (not been changed for a ling time) that have the backup marker in red and do not appear to be in timeline explorer so I assume are not backed up. They are included as a right click allows me to exclude them. They are very random and no logic to which ones are showing red and which ones are showing green. Any ideas why it would have missed these and how do i ensure they get backed up?
    2) If a file gets changed on the NAS from another computer in the house, will Timeline know it has changed and therefore back it up?

    Thanks

  27. Two very simple (probably) questions from someone with very little technical know-how:
    1) If I choose the ‘disaster recovery’ backup option, genie timeline seems to back-up everything I could possibly want to backup: system, applications, my files, etc. Why choose any other option?
    2) If my computer is stolen & I am left with only the external hard drive, what would I have to do exactly to get back to where I was one day earlier?

  28. 1) Correct. Not everyone wants to back up their OS as well, as that can be easily reinstalled – hence the other options which will save space.
    2) Create a recovery CD when you install Timeline, and put it in a safe place. Boot from it when your PC is lost, plug in your latest backup, and walla.

  29. Anyone know the answer:

    1) After the initial backup up (took a few days and at one point I had to reboot the machine to get timeline out of paused mode) I am left with a scattering of files (not been changed for a ling time) that have the backup marker in red and do not appear to be in timeline explorer so I assume are not backed up. They are included as a right click allows me to exclude them. They are very random and no logic to which ones are showing red and which ones are showing green. Any ideas why it would have missed these and how do i ensure they get backed up?
    2) If a file gets changed on the NAS from another computer in the house, will Timeline know it has changed and therefore back it up?

    Thanks

  30. Hi Mahmoud !
    Great work you achieved here !
    Could you tell me if you could use Timeline to alternatively backup two laptops on the same external hard drive ?
    i would use thé same profile of backup
    tanks for your quick reply
    Dan

  31. Dan, if you mean having backups for two separate laptops on a single, shared external USB, then yes, by all means. If you’re asking to somehow merge backups for two laptops into “one backup” on the USB, no, that’s not possible.

    (Disclosure: FWIW, I’m no longer with Genie-Soft so my information may be out of date.)

  32. Hi

    A bit late, I know,
    I tried to Backup my drive with Genie Timeline. Right now, after a week letting it run every night it achieved 99% protection…I have a 1GB LAN Connection to the NAS!!!
    I thought, at least…99%, soon it will will finish. But NO, it starts finding files it has to backup…around 80’000 now and is down to 90% again.
    Then today I looked at what files are being backed up. After one week it backed up my bookmarks! Finally! Hurray!!! And I have not bookmarked anything this week.
    This is just crazy. The valuable data (In user app folder, easy to find!!!) is backed up after one Week but SXS files are backed up right away.

    FAIL!

  33. It’ll be worthwhile for the prospect to find the accreditation. These few are some examples of different kind of photographs.

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