Backing up can be a drag. There are one or two ways of making it easier, but it usually involves buying an expensive hard drive with some sort of one-touch backup routine using complex software.

What most of us really want from backup software is a simple interface and a quick way of making a bootable backup on an external or internal drive. It's not a lot to ask. Oh, and the software ought to be free.

Well, someone at LaCie must have been listening as it has just released a Tiger-compatible version of SilverKeeper. This is LaCie's own backup software and it's completely free. What's more, it works with any read/write device that's capable of mounting on the OS X desktop. Bootable copies can only be created on non-optical drives such as an IDE drive or an external hard drive.

SilverKeeper not only makes bootable copies of a hard drive, but it can also create backups by copying, comparing and synchronising folders on a Mac... even across a network.

Are there any drawbacks at all? Well, copies are made using OS X's Finder and that means the process can be a bit slow compared to backup software that uses lower-level copying methods. However, because it does use Finder, all the backup files are restorable and readable by Finder; in other words, you don't need the backup software to access or decode your files.

Using SilverKeeper is straightforward. Just drag and drop the source and destination of the files or folders you want to backup and leave it to get on with things in the background.

A well as making single backups, SilverKeeper can run a scheduled backup for your accounts files or your email folder. Note that it isn't possible to run multiple schedules, but for a basic backup at a set frequency it's fine. Mark Sparrow