Background: Why do I own this?
Any who have read many of my reviews know that I am constantly upgrading my own computer as well as building computers for friends, family and sale to others. As such, I have the need to use a wide variety of computer parts and software applications. I already owned Norton SystemWorks Professional 2004 which has Norton Ghost 2003 bundled in, so there was not much actual need behind my purchase of this product. However, one of the online electronics/computer stores I frequent had PowerQuest Drive Image 7.0 available for *FREE* after mail-in-rebates. Never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I decided to give it a whirl.
What is it?
PowerQuest Drive Image 7 is a software application that will allow the user to backup their partitions to a compressed format for storage and retrieval at a later date. The user can backup the files to a second partition on the existing hard drive, a second hard drive in the computer, an external, USB connected hard drive, a network hard drive or removable media such as CD and DVD. The selling point for Drive Image 7 for me was two-fold: First, you could image the partition while still working in Windows, where Ghost requires a shut-down of the system to boot into the Ghost app prior to loading Windows. Second, I have had issues with Ghost cloning/copying partitions, particularly the system partition for Windows XP in NTFS format, without quite a bit of troubleshooting to get the partition to boot.
Drive Image 7 is apparently a good product, as in December of 2003 Symantec chose to buy out PowerQuest. This purchase included the popular Drive Image 7 as well as the wonderful utility, PowerQuest Partition Magic 8. Having used both of these products, I would say that Symantec did well to buy out this company, and the fact that they chose to maintain the brand name of PowerQuest shows that they truly understood the name recognition the products have.
In the box
Once the box for Drive Image 7 arrived in the mail, I immediately filled out and sent in the rebate forms. Please make a habit of this, as you will quickly go from feeling great about the wonderful price you acquired your product for to post-sale frustration as you realize you just gave up X amount of dollars needlessly
Opening the box revealed the following:
Quick Start Guide
Drive Image 2002 CD
Drive Image 7 CD
Upgrade MIR for Drive Image 7
Short letter explaining Symantecs purchase of PowerQuest
Why two products in one box, you might ask
I thought the same thing, as I initially thought I had received an additional disc quite by accident. Drive Image 7 is for use only with Windows XP and 2000 while the older product, Drive Image 2002, will support Windows ME, 95, 98 and NT. Having both discs will come in handy for me, as I am servicing computers using a multitude of operating systems through friends and family.
To install the boxed edition, simply insert the CD into the CD-ROM and wait. Since this works with XP and 2000 only, it should automatically bring up the install screen. The CD will walk you through the install steps with an easy to use interface that is very self-explanatory. While working through the install, you will be required to input your Drive Image Serial Number, which is a 20 digit alpha-numeric key printed on the back of the CD sleeve. Dont lose this!
The disc itself contains 507MB of information, but this is not all application code. Along for the ride on the disc are Documentation, Product Guides and Tutorials. This disc is bootable into the PQRE, so that inflates the size of the disc as well. I would recommend printing out the 107 page User Guide, as the Quick Start Guide included in the box does not go into nearly enough detail for advanced use. Additionally, keep the disc around after the install as the Product Guide is nice to watch, and the Tutorials will explain how to perform just about any task you want to with Drive Image 7.
To run Drive Image 7 on your computer, the minimum system requirements should be considered to be:
Pentium or higher processor
256MB of RAM
45 MB of available hard disk space
Keep in mind, these are the minimum requirements, and depending on the size of your hard disk and the location of your backup file destination, you may need much more hard disk space than is stated above. Also, if you want to save your image to a network disk, you will be required to load Microsoft.NET framework, and this will require more disk space than the stated amount.
There are two interface selections for Drive Image 7; the basic interface and the advanced interface. From the basic interface you can perform a few specific tasks, and for the beginner this will be where you will spend the majority of your time.
The basic interface will allow you to quickly select to perform the following tasks:
Create BackUp Jobs
Restore Files or Folders
Restore a Drive
Copy One Drive to Another
The Advanced View will allow you to do all of the preceding, but in a less intuitive and easy to follow manner. You can also choose to view tabs which show you additional information such as your drives overview, any backup jobs you have scheduled, the history of your backups and finally any informational pieces that are deemed important.
Also in the Drive Image 7 folder which is installed in the start up menu you will find two selections, Backup Image Browser and V2i Security Configuration Tool.
Backup Image Browser
The Backup Image Browser is a utility from which you can browse the backup images you have created to find a particular file or files. From the browser you can verify the total image file or view and restore the total file or individual files to the original folder or to another location of your choosing. Verifying of the image is a very good idea, and can be selected while creating the image as well. This will ensure that the file is not corrupted and therefore the data will be available when needed! Finally, you can choose to export the image file, which works essentially like a cut and past job.
V2i Security Configuration Tool
The Security Configuration Tool is a means to grant or take away permissions to backup drives, or partitions. You can open the pane and click on add, at which time it will bring up a list of valid users. Select the user that you would like to have permissions, and they will be added to the list of approved users.
PQ Recovery Environment, or PQRE, is the environment that the user boots into by inserting the Drive Image 7 disc and booting the computer with CD Drive chosen as the first boot method. From this the user can recover whole drives or partial files to allow the Operating System to run again. Just for kicks I did boot into this environment to ensure that the software found my network interface card and the USB-connected drive where I have my partitions stored. I will explain more in depth below how this worked.
My Experiences: Backups
Initial Copying of Partitions
For starters, I wanted to upgrade my drive from a 120GB Seagate to a 200GB Western Digital that I have recently bought. I did so by selecting Copy One Drive to Another and walking through the wizard. You first select the partition that you want to back up, and then select either an existing formatted partition or unformatted disk space in which to place the data. In my case, I walked through copying the three partitions I had on the 120GB drive which were C: (Windows Partition), E: (Programs Partition) and F: (Data Partition) onto the unformatted 200GB hard drive.
The Windows partition is 8GB in size with 4.1GB of data and took a total of 3 minutes and 16 seconds to copy with SmartSector Copying enabled(explained below). That was amazingly fast, and all performed from the Windows environment. If the partition you are copying contains your Operating System, remember to choose for the new partition to be a bootable primary partition. The Programs partition is 20GB in size with only 1.96GB of data and took 1 minute and 42 seconds to copy. Finally, the Data partition is the remaining space on the disk with 8.86GB of data and took a total of 6 minutes, 11 seconds.
This is pretty darn fast, and since it uses a sector copying method you are not required to leave the Windows environment. You can choose to check both the source disk and the destination disk for file system errors which copying, neither of which I took advantage of. The user can also resize the drive to fill unallocated space, which I did use while copying the Data drive over. Since it was the last partition and the one that will eventually fill the disk with data, it makes sense to size the partition to fill the disk. If I hadnt done that at the time, I could have use PowerQuest Partition Magic 8.0 to do it later, but why not do it the first time? You can select to set the drive as active, which I did for the C: which was also my Windows drive. You can disable SmartSector copying, and you can ignore bad sectors during copy as well. Finally, you can identify the partition as a Primary partition or a Logical partition, and you can assign the drive letter on the new disk for the partition.
Smart Sector Copying is a process which speeds up the copying of a partition significantly. For instance, my E: which is set up for Program Files is 20GB in size, allowing for expansion. However, since I had recently done a clean install of Windows, the drive only contained 1.9GB of data. With SmartSector copying enabled, the disk will only copy sectors that contain data to the next disk. This sped the process up considerably, as it only copied 1.9GB of data rather than 20GB.
That being said, why would you ever disable SmartSector copy? I can only assume that this is for those folks who may be worried that they have deleted some information recently and may need to recover it on the new disk. If SmartSector is disabled, the program will copy sector for sector, so therefore any info deleted by Windows (which is not really deleted, it just doesnt show up in Windows File Systems) will still be retrievable on the new disk, so long as you do not write over the sector a few times.
Once I had copied the three partitions over, I decided to pull the power plug and data cable on the Seagate and see if it worked. The new disk with three copied partitions started up without any hitches, which is more than I can say for the Ghost experience I have had.
Now that I had the partitions up and running on my new 200GB hard drive, I wanted to ensure that I would always have an up-to-date backup image just in case. You can schedule disk backups from the Advanced View interface. Keep in mind, however, that you can only schedule for full backups, as incremental backups to removable media will stop and require disc changes part of the way through.
In my case, I wanted to backup my partitions once a week beginning in the middle of the night, and the destination for the backup is my AcomData 80GB external harddrive which connects via USB 2.0. The scheduling screens look very similar to the copying wizard screens, except that the program asks you frequency and compression amount along the way. The scheduling of drive backups has worked very well for me.
When I set up the schedule initially, I set up each partition to backup on a different day, starting at 12:01 AM. The drive is compressed highly(approximately 50% of original data size) and the image is verified when completed to ensure it is not corrupted. I also set a maximum of 5 backups on the drive, so I believe that it will delete the first backup when the sixth backup initiates, although I have not had this scheduled for 5 weeks as of yet. In any case, each subsequent backup will be denoted with a number, indicating that it is backup number 2, 3, 4 and so on. In this fashion you can quickly tell which is the most recent backup to recover, should the need arise.
I also tested the networking backup, as this is a newer function with version 7 of Drive Image. In past versions, you had to reboot into the PQRE to backup your partition to a network drive, while the new version claims to do so from within Windows. I have successfully backed up all three partitions over my wireless network to the HTPC hard drive, although it was abysmally slow as my home network is still 802.11b. Just so you know, it does work!
My experiences: Recovery
I have personally not had the need to recover a partition as of yet, which is a very good thing! However, I dont want to be in a position where I cannot perform the recovery if needed in the future, so I did a few experiments.
First, I recovered a few of the files from the image I had placed on my external hard drive using the Backup Image Browser. This worked very quickly and without any hitches. I deletes several pictures from the my pictures file and then recovered them, and it was almost as fast as cutting and pasting.
Second, I recovered all three partitions from within the PQRE to the 120GB Seagate that has been wiped. I rebooted into the PQRE, selected all three drives and recovered them to the 120GB drive. This went off without a hitch, and the Seagate booted just fine into Windows after setting it up as the primary booting device in the BIOS. The drives recovered about as fast as they had copied originally. This seems much faster than Ghost, but I have never actually timed Ghost on a backup or restore job.
Finally, I again wiped the 120GB drive and tried a recover from the network drive using PQRE. This again worked very well, although it took quite a bit more time than I wanted to spend due to the slow sped of the network. After recovering the Windows partition and verifying that it would boot, I didnt go back and copy over the other two partitions; I figured I would be covered three ways from Sunday, anyway.
I need to discuss removable media, I suppose. It is an option available to the user to backup your partitions to, but it is one that I do not use, nor have I attempted to use. nc10 and larryw76 have written reviews documenting the hardships of retrieving files from backups copied to CD or DVD, and it is apparently hardly worth it. As I have both the external hard drive and the networked drives to back up my partitions to, I do not feel the need to subject myself to the pain of what is described. Let it be known that it is possible, but probably not worth it to try and recover individual files from a CD backup.
Along with the nicely detailed video tutorials, I have also found a troubleshooting guide near the end of the 107-page user guide. A knowledge base is available online and an automated email system is there for the use. Email support will be answered along the same hours as the call center, which is 8AM to 5PM MST Monday through Friday.
If all else fails and you absolutely must talk to someone, you can call 800-757-5049 at a cost of $30 per incident. Once again, this is available from 8AM to 5PM MST Monday through Friday only.
I have not had to use the Tech Support for any reason, excluding the tutorial videos. That says two things; First, I cannot comment on how efficient the Tech Support staff is, and Second, the application is written well enough to not need much Tech Support.
Overall, Drive Image 7 has replaced Norton Ghost for my backup and restoration needs. I like the fact that you can run a backup from the Windows environment, and it seems to be quite a bit faster than Ghost. The integrated networking backups brings this up to speed with Ghost, and offers the user one more option in the securing of data. I have not used nor do I plan to use this program for storage to removable media, as the process of recovery from said media is reported as long and arduous. Besides, when you have an external hard drive that can fit all of your backups, why would you ever use CDs or DVDs?
I hope this review has helped you in your purchase decisions.
Acronis Privacy Expert Suite 7.0 will help you delete data off of your drives before selling.
Norton SystemWorks Professional 2004; This comes with Ghost 2003.
AcomData 80GB external Hard drive; good solution for storage.
D-Link DI-514; our 802.11b wireless router.
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