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Messages - msj [ switch to compact view ]

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I have owned, used or tried almost every imaging or backup solution that is on the market. I can tell you that StorageCraft Shadow Protect Desktop is without a doubt in my mind the best available solution out there and I do not say this lightly.

One of the great features of SPD is that you can take an SPD image and mount it into Windows Explorer from a USB drive for example, read or read/write to it, so you have immediate access to the data without restoring the image. You can import the image into VMware Workstation VM or a MS Virtual PC VM.

Yes it is not the cheapest out there for a good reason, it actually works. It does have some NUANCES and understanding how to do Hardware Independent Restores (HIR) is one of them along with the machine specific activation of the licensing. Client application licensing is per machine and the license must be registered and de-registered from a machine as required. However none of that affects backups or restores when running SPD from the recovery ISO.

SPD uses it's own VSS provider and therefore does not work along side other backup/imaging utilities that do the same or those that use file system level virtualization or other disk level utilities.

This tool is worth every penny and has not only saved my axx a number of times but allowed me to backup and restore/move my OS image between Tablet PC's and other dissimilar hardware (e.g notebooks/laptops). One thing to be aware of is that HIR may be challenged when moving an OS image between systems with significantly different processor families (e.g. dual to quad core etc). Although in my experience the install media I had may not have had the appropriate HAL required for OS for the quad core processors in the target notebook/laptop and I did not have enough time to do extensive resolution around that specific test.

SPD comes with a WINPE recovery environment and ISO can be burned and run from CD/DVD. In the 3.3 version I was able to burn and run the recovery environment from a USB key too (easier and faster I think). The latest 3.5.2 version is designed for CD/DVD only as far as I know. Once in the recovery environment you can create, format, delete,  partitions and restore images to partitions amongst other things. To be successful doing a HIR I always restore the image then run the HIR and point to a source (on an external USB drive) that houses the hardware drivers or OS install folder (e.g. \i386 folder for Windows OS). Image backup/creation and restoration are relatively quick from my experience with 250GB laptop drives (unused space can be eliminated from the image). I always manually defragment the OS and disable defrag before beginning my image to optimize my files ystem and avoid any defrag process messing up the actual disk image creation process. 

Whilst SPD is NOT an instant state revert or instant recovery mechanism like some of the virtual file system level tools available, it is a robust image backup, restoration and OS image migration tool with HIR capabilities unlike anything else I have seen out there. Some of those file system software based solutions are great for instant state recovery but can hose you completely if they corrupt their file system (e.g. due to lack of disk space), the OS file system and then are unable revert to their stored snapshots. I know because it has happened to me before I found SPD.

From my personal experience I have observed that StorageCraft (Utah based) have very professional folks who are knowledgeable about and support the SPD product line for both business and retail customers.

FYI I have NO affiliation with this company, I am simply attesting to the product and it's image creation and restoration capabilities. Are there things I think can be improved in the product yes but you will be hard pressed to find a more robust solution for ensuring disaster recovery for any PC, OS and data.

2
My experience with Windows Mobile over the years has been sub standard. The fact that Windows (Mobile) is sub standard may not come as a big surprise anyone. I have grown to dislike Windows Mobile with a passion. Windows Mobile based on Windows 7 code may be better. I can't comment on Droid, although it appears to be more functional and they have 20,000+ or so apps. I've never been a big Apple fan either but I have to say my iPhone experience has been outstanding. Both the OS and hardware too although I've managed to miss all the latest models, so I'd wait until June/July for the release of the iPhone 4 because the hardware and OS should be even better. On the positive side the application variety, usefulness and quality in general are phenomenal. Accessories for the iPhone are everywhere, for every thing you might want to do with your phone from the bedroom to lounge to your car or office and most at a reasonable in cost.

On the down side I dislike Apple's controlling and litigious approach to everything, including trademarks and application censorship. iTunes usability and performance sucks (it's a dog under Windows). Syncing is slow (maybe USB 3.0 will be faster. There are alternatives to managing your music and content that iTunes so you can always check those out too. Whilst there are so many cool 100,000+ apps that you can download and as many as your iPhone will store you can't test, use or access them because iTunes only allows you to access eleven or so pages of apps (approx 96 max) from the UI. Now if you really want to go rogue you could always jailbreak your iPhone to overcome so of the Apple dictated limitations but doing this raises other potential challenges.

The iPhone OS lacks multitasking (hard to believe in a FreeBSD derivative) but I believe this will be addressed in the next major OS release. From what I have seen from other professional reviews the screen display quality of the iPhone is currently unsurpassed by any other competing platform and it leads most reviewers choice overall. Currently with AT&T as the only carrier is another consideration. For me they're fine (not perfect) but choice and cost are definitely considerations versus other carriers and phone platforms too.

The gap is narrowing on the hardware and OS and Apple will need to offer more features and functionality going forward. Still the apps are they key to the market but currently the way iTunes and the iPhone OS are designed to work users can't take full advantage of them (I'm an app junkie). So a tough call, I have to say I love the iPhone despite its current draw backs, the apps are awesome (free or paid for) and the phone is truly a joy to work with personally and for business. Go test the platforms you are choosing from as much as you can before you drop the $$.

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It took me years to find and locate a reliable drive imaging tool that could create editable read/writable) full and incremental disk images that could not only be mounted from ISO based bootable media like a USB drive and provide hardware independent restore capabilities but also use the backup images with virtual machine software like VMware Workstation if I needed to. For those who need something like this that tool is ShadowProtect Desktop from StorageCraft.com. During this quest I managed to also locate a separate but exceptional data recovery tool with an environment that not only has data recovery tools but one that can also be used as a temporary network connected working environment. That tool is [email protected] Boot Disk on livecd.com or Lsoft.net. Both of these tools are not very well known but easy to use and work very well. I've tried most commercial applications and both these applications have capabilities that provide functionality that I needed and basically put their more well publicized competition to shame.

Today the issue I have is, finding a tool that can backup and/or restore a variety of common or not so common third party application settings within Windows. For the average user finding the location of where the settings are stored is a monumental challenge for the most part. I am familiar with BackRex Expert Backup from Backsettings.com and Office 2007 Settings Backup Wizard Professional from Settingsbackup.com and a number of well known backup applications with application specific plug-in extensions such as Backup4all. I need to be able to backup and restore as many portable OS, Microsoft and other common application specific settings as possible to a newly installed OS image with newly installed applications.

Like ScreenshotCaptor, I am convinced that the excellent programmers here at DonationCoder are capable of producing something simpler and more effective than what is currently available in the market place that actually works! Your thoughts? Is there anything out there that you have seen that can do this in a comprehensive way?

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