Athena Backup is available for Windows and Mac

Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions about Athena Backup technology

Q. What does Athena Backup do?

Athena Backup backs up files from your computer to secure servers on the Internet.  It makes protecting your files easy and is designed to run automatically and continuously in the background.

Q. What is Athena Backup not designed to do?

Athena Backup is not designed to back up installed applications or operating system files, due to the complex installation sequence that most programs have.  It is faster and more reliable to reinstall applications and the operating system from their original CDs or DVDs.  You can use Athena Backup to back up program installers that you have downloaded from the Internet.

Q. How do I get started with Athena Backup?

Getting started with Athena Backup is quick and easy:

  • Create an account on
  • Download and install the Athena software from
  • In the Athena program, enter your user name and account password and choose the folders to backup
  • Sit back and let it run!
Q. How does Athena Backup compare to traditional backup systems?

Traditional backup systems typically allow the user to perform a full backup that copies all files to a backup medium like CDs or DVDs.  Traditional backup systems are usually run weekly or monthly to establish a baseline.  They then perform incremental backups more often, which write the recently changed files to the backup medium. The incremental backups are faster, but it can become complicated to keep track of DVDs for 5 or more incremental backups along with the DVDs for the full backup.  A typical small business might spend one afternoon a month doing a full backup and then one hour a week running an incremental backup, but even then they risk losing up to a week’s data. Customers tell us that setting aside time to do this on a regular basis is their biggest barrier to backing up their data.

Athena Backup simplifies this process tremendously by creating a Personal Digital Vault (PDV) for your account. The PDV contains all of the files that have been backed up from all the computers in your account.  You can browse and search your backed up files as one collection, or choose to browse or search each individual computer’s files.  Every time a file is added or modified on a computer in the account Athena Backup performs the equivalent of an incremental backup to your PDV.

Q. How does Athena Backup know when to back up a changed file?

When you tell Athena to monitor a folder Athena requests your computer's operating system to notify it of changes to files under the monitored folder.  When you change a monitored file the operating system notifies Athena, which then automatically backs up the file.

Q. How do I restore my files?

To restore a file start Athena Backup on any computer on which the software is installed.  On the Restore Panel you can browse or search your Personal Digital Vault to choose the files to restore.  Files are restored to a "Restored Files" folder on your computer to make sure that you can easily find them.

Q. Can I restore to another system?

Yes, any file from your Personal Digital Vault from any computer in your account can be restored on any other computer computer in your account.  Aside from recovering from crashed hard drives, this can be very useful for easily pulling together files from multiple computers onto one (for example getting photos from different computers to make a slide show for a special occasion).

Q. Can files from my Windows machine be restored to my Mac?

Yes.  You can restore any file from your Personal Digital Vault to any computer, regardless of operating system.  For example, your photos stored on your Windows machine can be restored to your Macintosh.

Q. Do I have access to past versions of my files?

Yes. Past versions of your files are maintained for 30 days.  This is useful if important information in a document is accidentally deleted, damaged or changes are lost.  You can browse your Personal Digital Vault to find the version you want and restore that version of your file to your computer.

Q. What if I have several users on a single computer?

Athena Backup only needs to be installed once on a computer.  Each user has a separate set of preferences. This provides the flexibility to choose which account to use and which files to back up.

Q. What are the minimum system requirements?

The minimum system requirements are:

  • 512 MB of RAM
  • Windows XP, Windows Vista or Mac OS-X 10.4 (Tiger) or higher
  • 350 MHz CPU or better
  • Broadband Internet connection
Q. Will Athena Backup slow down my computer?

For a typical computer, Athena Backup consumes 3-5% of the CPU while backing up files.  This will not impact your use of other applications.  Similarly, Athena Backup is careful to limit its use of the available Internet bandwidth to ensure that the impact on users in the home is minimal.  You can also tell Athena to use different amounts of Internet bandwidth depending on whether you are working on the computer or not.

Q. How do I back up new and updated files?

Athena backs up new and updated files automatically.  You do not need to take any action to cause the back up to start.

Q. What if I stop my computer while it is backing up?

Before files are transferred to your Personal Digital Vault, files are broken into a number of fragments. If your computer is stopped, or disconnected from the Internet, the transfer of that fragment stops.  It will be restarted when the computer is next running and connected to the Internet. All previous fragment transfers for a given file (even a huge email inbox file) will be preserved.

Q. If I get new email will my entire inbox need to be uploaded?

Athena Backup analyzes each file that is uploaded to determine which fragments of a file have changed and which parts have not changed. Only the fragments that have changed are uploaded. This means that when new email is received and added to the end of your inbox file, Athena Backup will only upload the new portion of the inbox file.

Q. How long will it take to upload my files?

Most people's broadband Internet connection can upload around 2 to 5 GB per day, so a large file collection will take several days to upload. Once your initial backup is complete uploading new and changed files is typically quick.  For example, uploading 10 songs or 10 photos (from a typical 7 megapixel camera) might take 10 minutes with an average residential broadband connection. For most users, new and changed files will be uploaded automatically during the time they are using their computers.

Q. Do I have to leave my computer on all of the time?

For the first few days it’s a good idea to leave Athena running on your computer so your files are uploaded as quickly as possible.  After the initial backup completes, most users will find that their files are uploaded quickly.

Q. How can I be sure that my files are being backed up?

Athena's Status Panel provides a graphical view of the backup queue, to file currently being backed up, and the files that have already been backed up to the Athena Backup servers.  You can browse, search, and restore your backed up files using Athena's Browse Panel.

Q. Can other Athena Backup users see my data?

No. Athena Backup allows you two levels of password security. The first password allows only the holder of that account password to access your Personal Digital Vault.  If you forget this password, Athena Backup staff can help you recover it.

In addition you can assign a private file password for your account which provides a second level of security to ensure that no one else, including Athena Backup staff, can decrypt your data.  Note that if you use a private file password, Athena Backup staff cannot help you recover that password.

Q. Can anyone else see my data?

The contents of a backed up file is AES encrypted on your computer before it is transmitted the the Athena Backup servers.  SSL and AES encryption is used on all Internet connections.  Both AES and SSL are used by financial companies, governments, and other organizations that require privacy and security.

Q. How can I be sure that my data is safe when it is in my Personal Digital Vault?

Athena Backup encrypts your data using the Advanced Encryption Standard.  AES is widely used and is approved for securing classified data by the US government.  When a file is backed up its data is broken up into fragments, and then each fragment is transmitted to Athena Backup's secure Internet storage servers.  The information specifying which fragments belong to which files for which customer is stored in separate servers.  In the unlikely event that any server was compromised, the hacker would not have enough information to access your files' contents.

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Questions about backup

Q. Can I tell Athena to go to sleep while I play games or do other CPU intensive tasks?

You can suspend Athena at any time by clicking the Pause button on Athena's status panel, or (on Windows) by selecting "Pause" from the Athena system tray icon menu, or (on Mac) by selecting "Pause" from the Tools menu. Athena can be resumed in a similar way by selecting the "Resume" option. If you log off while Athena is paused, it will automatically resume when it is next started.

Q. How many computers can I back up under one Athena account?

You can backup as many as five computers with your account.

Q. How many files will 50 GB protect?

50 GB is enough to store about 25,000 digital pictures, or 10,000 digital songs. The actual number of files you can protect will vary depending on the size of each file.

Q. How much CPU does Athena require?

Athena tries very hard to not intrude on the user's computing experience.  On computers bought in the last few years Athena generally uses only a few percent of the CPU when backing up files, and virtually no CPU when not backing up files.  You can indirectly control how much CPU Athena uses when your computer is active and when it is idle by configuring the amount of Internet connection bandwidth that Athena uses.

Q. How much Internet connection bandwidth does Athena use?

The amount of Internet bandwidth used by Athena will vary depending on how you have configured it. You can tell Athena to limit its Internet usage and Athena will restrict the bandwidth it uses to upload and download your files. Or you can give Athena free rein and let Athena use as much bandwidth as possible to finish its work with minimal delay.  Athena can be configured to use different amounts of bandwidth depending on whether your computer is in use or idle.

Q. If I change my account password or Enhanced Security password, can I still access the files I have backed up?

Yes, after a password change your previously backed up files are still accessible. Your password is used to secure the actual AES encryption key. When you change your password Athena keeps the same AES encryption key and re-secures it with your new password.

Q. If I have identical copies of the same file on more than one computer, will they each have to be backed up?

Athena detects identical copies of files on the computers in your account, and can even detect fragments of files that are identical on one computer or between multiple computers. Athena only stores one copy of any identical file or file fragment, saving storage space and Internet connection bandwidth.

Q. Is there a limit to the number or size of the files I can back up in my account?

Your combined total across all of your computers cannot exceed 50 GB. Files can be backed up from any drive attached to your computers.

Q. On the Status Panel, why is is the "Total Stored" for the account bigger than total amount stored for all my computers added together?

The total stored for an individual computer is calculated by adding up the sizes of all files stored by that computer. The total stored for your account as a whole is calculated by adding up the sizes of all file fragments stored for your account.

Athena tries hard to optimize your backups, and to only store the parts of files that have not already been stored. File fragments (i.e. variable sized chunks of a file between 8 KB and 16 MB) can be identical between files on the same computer or on different computers in your account. File fragments are stored only once; when Athena backs up a file containing a fragment that is the same as a previously stored fragment it does not need to back up that fragment a second time. For example if you have the same photo file on two computers in your account their fragments will be the same, and so each fragment will be stored only once and shared by the two file backups.

The account's "Total Stored" value is the one used to determine whether you are within your account's storage limit.

Q. What happens if I turn my computer off when Athena is backing up files or restoring files?

Athena can be shut down at any time, even if it is in the middle of backing up files. Athena remembers what it was doing and what it had left to do when it was stopped. It will start working again the next time is is started.

Q. Why is Athena saying that it failed to connect to account server?

When Athena can't connect to our servers on the Internet it shows the message "Failed to connect to account server, retrying".  There are a few reason why you might see this message:

  • If you are behind a corporate firewall that is set up to restrict outbound access to the Internet then Athena might not be able to connect to our servers. Athena needs to be able to connect to the following TCP ports on our servers: 2810, 2900, 2901, 2920.
  • If you are a peer-to-peer file sharer who uses Peer Guardian then you will need to add an exception to your PG block list to allow your computer to contact our servers at the following IP addresses: and
  • We sometimes temporarily take servers out of service for scheduled maintenance. Server maintenance periods should last less than 30 minutes.

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Questions about restoring files

Q. Can I restore files onto a computer if they were back up from different computer?

Absolutely. Browse your account's backed up files, select the folder tree of the computer whose files are to be restored, and then restore the files to your local computer.

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Questions about security and encryption

Q. Are my files secure with Athena Backup?

Yes, Athena uses the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) to secure your files. AES has been adopted by the United States government and is widely used around the world. By default, your files are encrypted using a key secured with your Athena account password. If you choose Athena's Enhanced Security option you can specify your own private password to secure your account's encryption key.

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Questions about account management

Q. What happens after my free trial is up?

After your free trial is complete, you have two choices:

  1. Purchase Athena Backup - You won't need to reinstall Athena if you decide to purchase it at the end of the trial period. And, all of the files you've protected during the trial period will continue to be backed up if you subscribe to the full service within 15 days of the end of the trial period.
  2. Cancel your subscription - If you do not purchase Athena Backup within 15 days of the end of the trial period, your subscription will be automatically cancelled and any backed-up files will be lost.
Q. How do I delete a computer from my account?

Once you're sure you don't have anything you need to restore from your old computer you can delete it from your account as follows:

  1. Log in to your account on the Athena Backup web site
  2. The computers in your account will be listed on the "My Account" web page
  3. Click on the computer you want to delete
  4. Click the "delete" button, and click "OK" to confirm

When you delete a computer from your account all files backed up by that computer are removed from the Athena server.

Q. How can I recover a password that I have forgotten?

Athena Backup technical support can help you recover a lost account password. Please contact is through our feedback page

By default your file encryption key is protected with your account password. You may optionally choose to protect your file encryption key with a Private File Password, which is known only to you. Athena Backup technical support cannot help you recover a Private File Password.

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Questions about billing

Q. If I am unhappy with the service, may I request a refund?

Should you be unhappy with the service, please contact our support team through the "Contact Us" section of this website. If we are unable to resolve the issue to your satisfaction, we will cheerfully refund the last monthly billing charge.

Q. How do I cancel my service?

To cancel your service, log into the My Account portal and choose "Delete Account". Once complete, no new charges will be placed against your credit card.

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