Backup and DR Software

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by TDAnthony, Mar 7, 2008.

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  1. TDAnthony

    TDAnthony Registered Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    This thread is intended to be a single place to:
    • Discuss back up and DR products for home and SOHO use
    • Focus on those under $100 (but allow those a bit pricier)
    • Link to other threads that are already specific to a product
    • Discuss backup needs, issues, and example solutions
    • Review specific product that don't have their own threads
    • Help those who don't know what is available or reviewed
    See Product Table below for info and links.

    Suggested ideas and submissions for this thread:

    If you reviewed a popular product that has a lot of interest, you should probably create a separate dedicated thread and post a brief description with a web link to it here. Otherwise feel free to submit it here.

    If know of a review or thread that resides elsewhere, post a brief description here with a link to it. See the product list at the end of this message. Some have links to other threads on this site.

    When reviewing a product, do your best to include its name, maker, version, web site, and cost.

    When discussing backup issues, needs, or doing a review, try to include a brief description of your PC configuration and needs. For example: "I have 2 Windows PC's on a home network with 100k files taking about 200 Gb to back up to an external 500 GB USB drive". Or, "I have limited needs, Windows XP with a 60 GB drive, and want to back up to an 8 GB thumb drive. I tried Joe's Mashup but found it too buggy and it did not work very well."

    Feel free to simply comment on a product, review, or your comparison of two or three you have played with.

    So, don't be shy ... The balls in your court.

    Back Up and DR Product Table

    This table will never be complete!
    Entries will be updated as we get more feedback.
    It will not tell you what product to use!
    It is simple list of products to help your research.
    Those with no comments were not investigated.
    Those with flip remarks were glanced over but not tested.
    Those with more info were at least fondled to some degree.
    Those with Thumbs Up :thumb: turned us on.
    Those with Thumbs down :thumbd: turned us off.
    Those without thumbs were not fondled or are in the middle.
    Assume everything is incorrect.

    Legend of Features
    From postings, reports and adverts. No codes = Not researched.

    Back up Types: B(IFDBCMS)
    ... B=(I)mage, (F)iles, (D)R, (B)aremetal, (C)opy, (M)irror, (S)ync

    Backs up From: F(*LUFN)
    ... (*)most, (L)ocal, (U)SB, (F)irewire, (N)etfolders

    Backs up To: T(*LUFN)
    ... (*)most, (L)ocal, (U)SB, (F)irewire, (N)etfolders

    Back up Methods: M(ICEOV)
    ... (I)ncr, (C)ompress, (E)ncrypt, (O)penfiles, (V)ersioning

    Backs up scheduling: S(TCM)
    ... (T)ime, on file (C)hange, (M)anual only
    • TrueImage :thumb: (Acronis) Forum B(IFDB) F(*) T(*) M(ICEO)
      ... Nice interface, not speedy, does almost everything.
      ... Works well for most but major issues for a few.
      ... Does files (not just images) to compressed encrypted archives.
      ... Easy to restore images to wrong partition. We did! Be careful.

    • Retrospect (EMC) Thread B(F) F(*) T(*) M(ICEO)
      ... Also does DR/BareMetal but costs a lot more.
      ... Has agents for backing up open files on networked PC's!
      ... High maintenance and difficult to understand and setup.
      ... Enterprise product for PC's (eg, also handles tapes, etc)

    • Norton Ghost 14 (Symantec) Forum
      ... Ghost line (circa v10) was based on Acronis TrueImage
      ... Later versions seem to have evolved from there.

    • Genie Backup Pro 8 :thumbd: (GenieSoft) Thread
      ... Another version of a program with many variants
      ... Similar to Titan backup. V8 plagued with major issues.
      ... Docs often poor or incorrect. "Agent" crashes under Vista.
      ... Doesn't do versioning - simply multiple backups.
      ... Creates empty backups when no files have changed.

    • Second Copy :thumb: ( B(FCMS) F(*) T(*) M(ICEOV)
      ... At first simplistic. Soon very lovable.
      ... Easy/attractive interface. Powerful profile management.
      ... Copies, mirrors, syncs folders to/from any drives/folders.
      ... Uses Zip compression for easy access without program.
      ... Lacks advanced scheduling. Can't do open files.
      ... Can't version and compress files at same time.

    • Paragon Drive Backup 8.5 (Paragon) B(IDB) S(TM) F(LUF) T(*) M(ICO)
      ... Powerful imager with many options, open/DR/bare metal, etc.
      ... Many advanced scheduing and backup options
      ... Solid web site with a lot of product info.
      ... But, as imager only, doesn't do file-by-file or net folders.
      ... See RAD's user comment

    • SynchronEX :thumbd: (Xellsoft) B(FCMS)
      ... Does file copy, mirror, sync, verision. Seems very complex.
      ... Geared toward programmers wanting to archive code libraries.
      ... Has a GUI but it's just a front end to a command line engine.
      ... We passed on it for now as it's too complex for common use.

    • IBM CDP B(F) M(OV) (IBM) B(F) M(OV)
      ... Continuous Data Protection. $40 product from IBM.
      ... Saves versions of files as they change in real time.
      ... Impossible to understand architecture - it's IBM!
      ... 100's of hard to read pages about it - it's IBM!
      ... Yet screen shot makes it appears incredibly simplistic.
      ... Many IBM sites for this product that say different things.
      ... Like the IBM PC, they don't know what do with it!

    • Titan (TitanBackup
      ... Appears like Genie 8 but better finished.
      ... Blurbs imply it can't back up net folders. A killer for home nets.
      ... Much web info but no tech details. Simplistic screen demo.
      ... Looks like a "made by one, sold by another" product.
      ... Will update when we get more info.

    • Karen's Replicator (KarenWare) B(FC)
      ... Very simple freeware file copier with minimum features.
      ... Simple GUI. Written in VB with source code supplied.
      ... As with most VB programs, needs VB libraries to run.

    • Drive Snapshot (Tom Ehlert) B(I)
    • Backup4All
    • Stardock
    • ShadowProtect
    • Backup Platinum
    • NTI
    • NovaStor
    • ExBackup
    • MirrorFolder
    • AJC
    • Memeo
    • ION
    • Auto Backup
    • UpBackup
    • Gate-and-Away
    • Easy2Sync
    • SuperCool Zip
    • SOS
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2008
  2. TDAnthony

    TDAnthony Registered Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Product Tested:
    Genie Backup Pro Edition Build
    On Windows Vista Ultimate on 380 GB of USB drive data.

    Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
    Promises what we want to hear but doesn't fully deliver. Works in its own way but is missing things, misrepresents others, and is buggy. Since it's shortcomings are too complex to immediately see, it reviews extremely well. I gave it only 2.5 stars out of 5 because a backup product MUST ALWAYS do its job as expected with no major issues and minimum uncertainty. Though costly, slower, more difficult, and sometimes frustrating, the stalwarts of TrueImage and Retrospect deliver the basics and despite confusing options, they do most of what they say. NB: We've yet to find a product that would rate 4+ stars.

    To use the 2008 US elections as a political metaphor: GBP 8 is more like Barack Obama who preaches well, overstates, but hasn't done much! I prefer products that may have shortcomings or rough edges but get most things done correctly - like Hillary Clinton! Other products are more like John McCain - they may be old or unfriendly but they actually work very well but, alas, they don't do what most realy need or want!

    I needed an urgent back up after a recent crash and rebuild and wanted something that:
    a. Was easy to setup and use.
    b. Ran fairly quickly and reliably.
    c. Could back up local open files and network files.
    d. Stored backups in Zip format with encryption.
    e. Was easy to monitor and view logs.​

    I previously used Retrospect and True Image. Both use proprietary formats, run slow, but do handle open files correctly. So I spent the last 4 days testing Genie Backup Pro 8 along with several others. They also both work *very* slow.

    Judging by the promo, reviews and its decent looking interface, I thought GBP8 was Nirvana. But, the more I tested, the more things misbehaved, malfunctioned, or did not work as expected. Worse, these things are not readily apparent until you remove its underwear.

    Like a well-designed house that is 70% finished but missing some floor boards, windows, and has some broken materials, it looks more like a product written by a really super-programmer who did not complete the job or did not have the bandwidth to understand, test, and fix the operational design and function. Its documentation is looks like it was originally written and translated well but later versions destroyed its continuity and peppered it with serious inconsistencies.

    Good Things:
    1. Archives in common Zip format with optional encryption.
    2. Tries to create multiple backup versions (but with problems).
    3. Decent looking interface
    4. Decent price. ​

    Problem Isses:

    1. Bare metal restore. Not!
    It cannot do this at all as it's poorly translated and incorrect docs would suggest. What it does do is allow you to backup whatever you say (not necessarily what you need), as well as providing specialty "plug-in scripts" that attempt to identify and backup all the important hidden data and settings for popular applications. It also suggests it can create self-executing EXE's on CD/DVD media allowing for restoration without the main program. What it really does is try to create a more complete file-by-file back that includes pp settings so you can better recreate a system after it is reformatted and reloaded with a new OS copy. That is not bare metal. Only a complete system drive image can restore to bare metal and then, only to the same exact hardware. True Image has an extra cost add-on that purports to resurrect to dissimilar PC's but even their support group advises against using it since it is not perfectly possible due to the 100's of hardware support issues.

    2. Plug-in Scripts - More like Pandora's box
    Plug-in App Scripts are listed under a "Plug-ins" tab on the file/folder Selection screen during backup configuration. Though a wonderful idea, such scripts cannot be relied upon for advanced systems were the data areas are often manually reconfigured. Although scripts provide amazing power, they require patient and deep understanding. You cannot, for example, trust anyone else's script that might be provided on the net since systems can vary and if a single needed data item for an app is missed or it is for a different build, the app may not run or be damaged. To be reliably used, this feature requires very high maintenance and the bleary eye of an advanced techie - which is the opposite of its purpose.

    3. Vista - Not quite
    GBP8 doesn't seem to be fully Vista compatible. Vista was obviously a last minute support idea. Scheduled backup job we created did not appear in the Vista schedule manager until we re-ran the program several times and attempted to create our own additional schedule tasks. Then, without notice the GBP tasks suddenly appeared, in addition to their own. We ended up having to delete the GBP8 tasks, disabling the schedule options in our GBP8 backups and manually entering them in Vista. It then seemed to start working.

    Also, when backups are set to run as "currently logged in user" -or- the separate system tray "backup agent" program is used to initiate a backup, a progress box pops up and summarizes the final success/failure. Then when you close the progress box, you get a crash message but the main program if still on screen does not. Even when set to run when logged off, it crashes less but still does on occasion if the pop up progress indicator appears and you manually close it.

    4. Outlook
    Although it claims to use Vista's VSS shadow copy service to back up local open files, it does NOT backup Outlook PST files when Outlook is open. There are global options to close and re-open Outlook prior to and after backing up but GBP8 didn't close Outlook. It did, however, open Outlook when it was closed after the run.

    5. Frequent crashes
    After a back up if its summary box appears and is manually closed, you get a crash message but the main program, if open, continues to run. Very confusing as the summary box doesn't seem to op up all the time. Not confidence inspiring.

    6. Conflicting interfaces:
    GBP8 seems to work with 5+ separate run-time components whose operation is at best confusing and at worst fatal to your backup.
    a. GBP8 GUI program. Configures and runs backups.
    b. GBP8 Tray program. Runs backups, shows status.
    c. GBP8 GUI program scheduler (just configures Vista scheduler)
    d. Vista Scheduler - what REALLY schedules backups.
    e. GBP8 backup engine? What really runs under the covers?​
    For example, though surprisingly difficult to find, you can start a backup within the main program. Ok, but you can also start a back up from the separate "system tray agent" program. And the Vista scheduler can also start a backup. Thus, it is possible to run the same backup 3 times at the same time which trashes the backup. Avoiding these conflicts is like walking on thin ice, you can do it carefully but you are bound to fall in one day. We did and had to restart our 200 GB back up.

    7. Fragile backup command sets
    You can also break your back up sequence if you change a back up config. We're not sure how but our main backup config lost its 200 GB document folder selection. When we opened the backup config and reselected to folder it then ran another complete 200 GB backup (another 8 hours), even though the previous backup was for the same selection and already there in the back up directory. It seems to up the "backup set number" unexpectedly. So we ended up with 400 GB! Since we initially blew the 1st backup, we've now backed up 600 GB. Another such mishap and we'll have another 200 GB! Not confidence inspiring.

    8. Versioning - not!
    Some of the ads portray GBP8 as having file versioning. It does not. It works like traditional backups and simply backups up multiple copies of changed files. If you want to resurrect a single file you have to find and open and inspect all of the backups to find your file. It really doesn't have the catalog complexity required to do file versioning. We also could not find a catalog rebuild tool. So, when we deleted earlier backups they still show in the various restore selection boxes though the files may not be there. Archaic stalwarts like Retrospect, though prone to the same problem, at least let you rebuild a catalog, search for all versions of a file by its. It's also painful but it works, eventually.

    9. Creates needless empty archives
    Each time GBP8 runs, it scans for files that were new or changed and creates a backup archive. Even if there are NO FILES backed up it still creates a backup archive of 150 kb. So, if you set your backups with the popular frequency of "every few hours" and make no changes for a week, you will have 84 (7x12) empty backup archives totaling 13 MB. So, in a time of need, you may have to investigate literally 100's of archives to find the file version you want. That is simply not feasible.

    10. User Forum suspended 3 years ago
    As a developer, I can commiserate with those having to suffer the dirty diapers of the many ignorati that defecate in forums, but, alas, a product support forum has become de rigueur for any development house - even if ignored by the OEM. The last posted comment about its closing said little more than "it has been closed" and refer to "our paid support". That doesn't inspire confidence.​
    Bottom Line:
    It works well if only if you do NOT need to depend on advanced features, do NOT have mammoth amounts of data issues or complex application configurations, do NOT need a bare metal back up, do NOT need documentation that matches the product, and do NOT mind some crashes in Vista. But, if you do NOT need all those things, there are simpler products around like Second Copy which has its own shortcomings but does what little it tries to do easily and well.

    We're still testing GBP8 since we have already invested 4 days and 600GB of backups now and full backups can take 6-16 hours. We suspect we may go back to using the following tedious combination:

    TrueImage Workstation:
    Despite the issues some have, we have found TI to be reliable for system drive imaging and full restore (only bare metal if same system). It also does file-by-file but its still an image so it is very slow. It took 12 hours to do our 300 GB data drive. As most imagers, it uses a proprietary format.

    For complete data backup with multiple versions (not versioning, it simple doesn't delete them). As painful and pricey as this product is to use and as easy as it is to fail, it works and has rebuild functions to get around its infrequent catalog corruption. It does open file backups but cannot do bare metal restore to a dissimilar system without extensive options. It also has a pruning feature that tends to run out of disk space but is great when it works. Since EMC bought Dantz (original OEM) it may drop this product in the near future since, for them, it's small potatoes. Current product works in Vista with some shortcomings. Its backups can be encrypted and compressed but in its own proprietary format using 100's of files and a very complex fragile cataloging system.

    Second Copy
    This is a fast, simple, limited, and cheap way to replicate most important files from and to any local, attached or network folder. It also does simple file versioning by adding a suffix. It can also compress and encrypt backups but you lose file version. Also, you can only compress the entire backup into one mammoth archive or each backed up file individually. If ALL, then the mammoth backups are a problem since it has to rebuild them each time. If separate, then you have the overhead of compressing 100's of 1,000's of files, one-by-one.

    = = =

    In short, there is no product yet available that we have found that meets our needs for a modern system with lots of files using open file backup, standard zipping, and file versioning. GBP8 purports to do much of this but needs a significant rewrite to fix its man problems and add the features it promises but does not yet implement. Also, it needs to call its file versioning by what it really is, simply multiple backups with rotation options. It also needs a true file catalog or a much better way to find files. With all that confusion, it is unclear how it really restores a complete backup.
  3. Peter2150

    Peter2150 Global Moderator

    Sep 20, 2003
    Hi TDAnthony

    First welcome to Wilders. Candidly, while your review was very thorough, I do't know that you are going to see a lot of posts like yours on other products. Many of the popular ones used by members here have or in fact are being discussed in other threads. If you are interested in learning about them, search keywords like backup or imaging, and you should find a whole host of stuff.

  4. RAD

    RAD Registered Member

    Apr 2, 2007
  5. TDAnthony

    TDAnthony Registered Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Thanks for the welcomed advice, Pete. However, as you point out, those other reviews are in other discrete and separate places. There doesn't seem to be a single place where one can go to see a list of, and to discuss, all backup software or the comparison thereof.

    If one does discuss other software in a thread for a specific product then that effectively breaks the etiquette of the specific thread. That quickly happened in the Genie Backup thread I was contributing to. Hence, my attempt to creating an aggregating thread.

    I've since updated my initial comment to suggest the use of creating new dedicated threads when appropriate and the adding of links to threads or specific product reviews that may already exist. This one is meant to be more of a starting point for those who want to discuss back ups in general or don't know what products to search for. In fact, fellow poster "RAD" has already done just that.

    Q: Does that make sense?
    Q: Does my 1st post need to be a sticky? Not sure if I can do that.
    Q: Is there a time limit to make later updates to my 1st post?

    Many thanks.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2008
  6. lucas1985

    lucas1985 Retired Moderator

    Nov 9, 2006
    France, May 1968
    This one may interest you :)
    Also, check this one
  7. Hugger

    Hugger Registered Member

    Oct 27, 2007
    Hackensack, USA
    Might be nice to have this type of info under one thread title.
    So far lots to review.
  8. TDAnthony

    TDAnthony Registered Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Thanks for the support. You nicely underscored what this thread is for and why I created it.
  9. TDAnthony

    TDAnthony Registered Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Thanks, RAD. I've updated Paragon in the 1st posting's list with a link to your review.
  10. RAD

    RAD Registered Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    I should mention that after the initial testing phase, Paragaon Drive Backup 8.51 has continued to save my system in real life at least twice already. I have been trying to install a large CAD+FEA software package (Solidworks/COSMOS) and it has been corrupting my system under VISTA. So I have found it most convenient to just restore full disk images made just prior to the installation attempt.
    All works just as expected. Very user-friendly and free of any problems.
  11. TDAnthony

    TDAnthony Registered Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    Areca Backup (Areca)
    No review. Submitted by Lucas1985. OEM blurb follows:
    • Archives compression (Zip & Zip64 format)
    • Archives encryption (Triple DES & AES encryption algorithm)
    • Storage on local hard drive, network drive, USB key, FTP / FTPs server (with implicit and explicit SSL / TLS)
    • Source file filters (by extension, subdirectory, regular expression, size, date, status, usage)
    • Incremental, differential and full backup support
    • Archives merges / deletion : You can merge contiguous archives in one single archive or safely delete your latest archives.
    • As of date recovery : Areca allows you to recover your archives (or single files) as of a specific date.
    • Transaction mechanism : All critical processes (such as backups or merges) support a transaction mechanism (with commit / rollback management) which guarantees your backups' integrity.
    • Backup reports : Areca generates backup reports that can be stored on your disk or sent by email.
    • Post backup scripts : Areca can launch shell scripts after backup.
    • Files permissions and symbolic links backup. (Linux only)
    • Archives content explorer. (including a 'find file in archives' feature)
    • Archive description : A manifest is associated to each archive, which contains various informations such as author, title, date, description, and some technical data.
    • File history explorer : Areca keeps track of your file's history (creation / modifications / deletion) over your archives.
    • Backup simulation : useful to check wether a backup is necessary
    • User's actions history : Areca keeps an history of all user's actions (archives deletion, merges, backups, recoveries).
    • Archive's indicators : Areca computes a lot of indicators for you, which will help you in the everyday management of your archives.
    • Areca comes with a command-line interface which can be used for backup automation.
  12. TDAnthony

    TDAnthony Registered Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    AutoVer 1.2.1 (Beanland) Freeware
    No review. Submitted by Lucas1985. OEM blurb follows:
    • Select any number of separate folders or folder trees (including sub folders) to watch for changes - each folder tree has its own independent settings
    • Select straight backup or versioning mode
    • Select any folder or drive to backup to (including memory sticks)
    • Optionally create an initial backup before the automatic backup starts and ensure it is current on every startup
    • Restrict which files and folders to include and exclude (by file mask) & maximum size
    • Change the versioning datetime stamp format (and you can use this to restrict the rate of which the versions are stored)
    • Optionally zip or delete old versions after a specified time
    • Optionally delete backup files on original file deletion
    • Fault tolerance in case your backup folder/drive goes off line or source files are locked. USB & Firewire drives sync'ed when they come online
      MS Office, Visual Studio plus many others supported (temp file creation, delete then rename is treated as original file change)
    • Backup file & version explorer included
    • Open backups or file versions directly (file extensions are preserved) or via inbuilt explorer
    • Compare file versions (using customisable external application)
    • Restore file versions via inbuilt explorer or manually
    • Runs discretely in the Windows System Tray.
  13. TDAnthony

    TDAnthony Registered Member

    Feb 26, 2008
    :eek: It seems I can no longer edit the opening post. Unless I find a solution, I will add new SW entries separately like I did with my previous 2 postings. Ugly but it works.
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