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Backup imaging, disaster recovery, Paragon backup tools

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It is hard to imagine nowadays that someone does not have a PC. Though it is far from being true the situation is turning to become true soon.

PC hardware is being developed rapidly. Desktops, laptops\notebooks and netbooks are knocking our doors and offering more storage room, more productivity and nice shapes. And data amount that is stored on PC storage is increasing also.  
It is good that IT technologies are developing in high speed and PC and internet is coming to each house. But the PC is not an ideal solution. It often fails. There are lots of threats hunting our important and valuable information. And nowadays loss of data means loss of money, nerves and sometimes life unfortunately.

Virus attack

Browser hijack

HDD failure

Hardware failure

Shortage during important task execution

PC theft

These are the threats that come first to your mind when you start storing important data on your HDD. Are hard drives good and reliable nowadays? Yes they are. And no, they are not. You never know when could your HDD fail. And here where we need backup software.

There are lots and many backup tools. Some of them are very simple like NTbackup tool built into Windows for many years already. Some of them are sophisticated like Symantec Backup Exec line. But all of them are serving the only goal - save your data.

Recently I had a chance to review backup utilities made by Paragon Software company that is developing step by step its tools and bringing them to high standards.

The company has been working in the IT market for 15 years already, and is aiming its efforts on two primary goals:

Simplicity

Reliability

And when you add the affordable price value to these two criteria then you get ideal tool for home and business usage.

System Backup 2010: web page of the product
Setup the backup to external HDD or Backup Secure Partition on internal HDD and forget it.  This is an ideal solution for those of us who never used backup imaging tool and decided to start with backup.

The free alternative to this tool is Windows Restore Points. But Windows Restore Points do not help if the system drive dies. And System Backup 2010 creates sector level images of entire HDD and thus gives you a chance to recover to working state even if the image source drive ends its life. System Backup 2010 uses intuitive algorithm that controls the user activity on HDD (read\write) and decide itself what images should be taken: Full backup or differential.

And it is really simple to install and configure backup.  Three - four steps to setup backup and it is done.

Backup & Recovery 10 Suite: official web page
This tool includes previous one and more advanced version of Drive Backup 10 for users who feel themselves confident in backup and recovery tasks. There is a free version of this tool available via www.download.com but without System Backup 2010 included.

Alternatives are Cobian, Macrium, Norton Ghost and Acronis True Image Home. Again, the backup tool decision should be done after thorough tests with trial or free versions. Good name is not always good product.
What I like in Backup & Recovery 10 Suite is the number of features available.

USB flash media
Product allows you to burn Recovery media to USB flash. Wonderful feature when you don't want to keep media on DVD or CD. Convenient.

WinPE Recovery CD based on Windows 7
With this tool you will never have problems with hardware support. Paragon made it flexible via Add Drivers feature. Simply load to WinPE environment - load drivers for your device and continue recovery tasks in Backup & Recovery 10 Suite from the same media. WinPE also can be burnt to USB flash drive.

Recovery to dissimilar hardware
Most of backup software vendors sell this feature for additional payment. And Paragon has broken this tradition. Now everyone can backup the drive of laptop and restore it to desktop. Apply Adjust OS and the tool will adjust Windows to new hardware itself. Most effective for those who need to change motherboard or RAID controller. Even a newbie is able to migrate the OS to dissimilar hardware without time consuming reinstallation process.

File Level backup
Backup your mail, music, documents or any selected file/folder via manual or scheduled backup plan. Version 10 increased the speed of file backup since version 9. And the speed metamorphosis is noticeable from the first start of the operation.  

Acronis has similar functionality called Universal Restore. But it is not included in products unfortunately. No known free alternative for me yet.

System virtualization
Want to work with XP in Windows 7? Here it goes. B&R10 Suite will do it easily also. All well known virtual machine formats are supported. Alternatives are Windows 7 and Vmware tools for virtualization. Paragon combined here all in one.  

Next comes Drive Backup 10 Professional and business line products but I will not concentrate much on them. Normally business crowd knows what they want and have direct access to vendor for additional information. Or they come here to EE and get our expert help and recommendation.

The backup process itself in Paragon is simple and understandable. 28GB data was imaged in 11-13 minutes. Restore took the same amount of time. Paragon still splits images into 2GB files for the cases when you use FAT partitions. It turns out that unmounted (no drive letter assigned) FAT partition has problems with files bigger than 2GB. But user can always change this split option to No Split. Since then 2 files are created in backup like in Norton Ghost backup solution.

Recovery is also simple and straightforward. Boot from WinPE Recovery CD - select Simple Restore Wizard - point it to backup file - select restore destination. Apply changes and have a cup of tea or coffee for yourself. Backup and Restore operations were tested on Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 environments. All came back to life after restore without any problem.

Manuals were found on web page easily at: http://www.paragon-software.com/downloads/manual.html - Very nice when you want to print them out and read not sitting in front of your PC.

Want to have partitioning feature and backup in one tool? Then Paragon Hard Disk Manager 2010, which has recently been released.

Finally my advice to every PC user: backup your system and data. At least once per month. That is worth of doing and you realize the value of backup only when you get: No HDD found, BSOD, unable to boot system etc. 10-20 minutes per day, week or month, and you save hours, days, money, hair and nerves.

P.S. I have a close relationship with Paragon as devoted customer (and possibly reseller in close future). I found a way to get the most up-to-date products of Paragon Software for free to Experts-Exchange members here: http://www.paragon-software.com/partners/ptac/

Paragon technology Advisory Council makes it possible to get acquainted with most of their products and thus helps us experts to provide more qualified help and share our knowledge to those who need it.

It is nice practice that I would admire from Symantec and Acronis as well.
11
Comment
Author:noxcho
3 Comments
LVL 38

Expert Comment

by:younghv
noxcho:
I remember seeing someone (possibly you) posting about this in the technical Zones and was really glad to find this Article.
Thank you for putting it together. It sounds as though it is just the kind of tool I have been looking for.

"Yes" vote above.
0
LVL 32

Expert Comment

by:Thomas Zucker-Scharff
noxcho,

after you mentioned the partners program I went looking and found this article.  Thanks again.

Yes vote above.
0

Expert Comment

by:grimpex
Very Good !
0

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