Hard drives can develop irreparable faults with little warning. Despite this, few Mac users back up their systems. But, if you value your data at all, you need a full backup solution, comprising an external FireWire drive and some reliable software.

Because of Mac OS X's invisible files, drag and drop won't create bootable backups. Still, backup and cloning applications can be complex and unreliable, putting users off. SuperDuper! bucks the trend, offering a user-friendly Mac-like interface.

The main window enables you to set source and destination drives, and select one of four built-in scripts. These scripts define the backup type (such as a system clone, or a backup of your user files) and you can also create custom scripts.

When options are selected, the 'What's going to happen?' summary provides a plain English overview of what will happen when you click Copy Now. Further options enable you to repair permissions prior to backing up, set a Smart update (which removes files from the backup drive that are no longer on your source drive), and more.

Usefully, backup sets can be stored and saved, and schedules can be defined, so you could do an automated weekly system backup to one external drive and a daily user-files backup to another. Although the first backup understandably takes a while, incremental daily backups tend to take little time. Postdisaster system recovery also proves painless.

Our only niggle is that the source, destination and some options relating to scheduled copies can't be edited (you must delete the existing item and create a new one). But, this is a minor idiosyncrasy that's easy to work around, and in all the most important areas, SuperDuper! simply excels. James Ellerbeck