Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Hi -- I am a non-techie user, running XP Pro SP2 on a Dell Dimension 4600, with an 250GB external Seagate HD.  I would like to have the security of knowing I can restore everything quickly, and I am considering buying Desktop 3.1.

I read the very positive review at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2254465,00.asp#member_rating, but I am a little worried that this program is going to be over my head.  Also, based on something I read here in the forum, I am confused about whether it will simultaneously back up the system and the user data files -- and I want to be sure that it will get all data across all users in XP Pro.

Frankly, based on the screenshots in the review article, I think I might be better off with Norton Ghost 12, which seems easier to use for non-techies,  but it doesn't seem like users are finding it reliable.  Also, I have had Norton products on my computer before, and I didn't like them, and had a hard time uninstalling them.  Plus, I didn't find that Symantec gave good customer support.

 

Any suggestions?  I know I can download a trial, but am not sure I can manage restoring a trial backup without messing up my system.

 

Thanks!
 

Comments

STC-Nate

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Those are good and valid questions.  Let me start by addressing the question as to what exactly gets backed up.  ShadowProtect falls into the volume imaging category of backup product (vs. the other common camp which consists of the file-based backup products).  This means that ShadowProtect will backup EVERYTHING on the volumes (a volume is a logical area on a disk, and you probably know them as "drives" such as C:, D:, etc.) that you tell it to backup.  So, if you tell it to backup C:, it will backup everything on C:, all of your operating system and all files - every single used sector - on the C: drive.  Because it captures all of the in-use sectors on a volume, ShadowProtect is capable of doing so-call "bare metal" restores.  This means that as long as you have your backup safe on some other drive, if your primary hard disk completely fails this is okay because you can just buy a new blank (hence the word "bare") hard disk and then boot the ShadowProtect bootable CD Recovery Environment and restore your backup image to this new blank drive, and shezam! you're up and running again with all of the applications and data that you had at the time that the backup was created.  Now, many users find that it's useful to schedule regular automated backups, and this is easily done with ShadowProtect.  What's more, ShadowProtect is smart enough that it knows that if it has already backed up your drive(s), the next backup doesn't need to backup every sector, but merely needs to backup only the sectors that have changed since the previous backup.  This saves an enormous amount of disk space for storing your backup images, not to mention time.  Such an image, which contains only the sectors that have changed since the previous image, is called an incremental backup image file (as opposed to the initial full or base image file which contained ALL in-use sectors on the disk at the time the backup occurred).  ShadowProtect's incremental images are often generated in less that one minute, and yet because the capture all sectors that have changed since the previous backup, each incremental, combined with the previous image backup files, represents the FULL state of your disk at the time the incremental occurred.  You don't need to manually "combine" these incrementals when you decide to restore one of them - just specify the image (be it a base or an incremental) for the point-in-time that you wish to restore (or mount, if you just want to restore single file(s) and not the entire volume) and the product will take care of all of the work of combining the content of the specified file and any previous backups upon which it depends.  ShadowProtect also has the ability to restore your operating system volume backup image to a completely different computer, and make it boot.  This is the Hardware Independent Restore (HIR) feature.  It's pretty easy to use - you just check a box for HIR at the time you're setting up the restore job in the booted CD Recovery Environment.

As far as your concern about being able to successfully restore your system, my suggestion is that you first backup your system within the recovery environment.  ShadowProtect can both backup and restore images within your live windows operating environment, however, obviously you can't restore over your boot volume while the OS itself is actively in use, which means that for restores of the boot volume you have to boot the bootable CD recovery environment.  One nice thing is that you can also perform backups within the booted cd recovery environment, and I mention this because if you successfully backup within the booted cd recovery environment you can be assured that the cd recovery environment contains the proper drivers to see and work with your disks (the disks that store your OS and data, and the disks where you keep your backups).  Failure to properly support storage controllers is the only problem that would cause an issue for you, and so as long as you have this verification that the cd recovery environment can successfully see and use your disks, then you have very strong evidence that it can also restore your backups.  At any rate, if it can't, you won't be able to accidentally wipe out your OS because you won't even be able to see the disk itself.

If all you care about is backing up a few files, you should probably just use one of the *hundreds* of free file-based backup utilities.  If you need the ability to have regular and quick incremental backups, or the ability to do bare metal or HIR restore, then you should request the Full Evaluation (submit the web form) of ShadowProtect so that you can gain access to the Recovery Environment ISO image which you must use to burn the recovery environment CD, and perform the tests I mentioned.  Evaluate other products too and use the one that works best for you.

bsdice

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Three people go into a forest every day to chop wood. Person 1 uses a saw and is really tired at the end of the day. Person 2 uses an axe and every once in a while hits himself with the axe by accident. So far (knock on wood) nothing serious. Person 3 has bought a Husqvarna and usually is home by noon. The question is, what would you use? My Grams said it best: Serious jobs need serious tools.

PS: If you never owned a Husqvarna, you are seriously missing out. I kid you not. ;)

__________________

Jack of many trades, master of none.

newstore

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Hi, Nate -- and thank you for the detailed reply.  Yes, I would like to have the "bare metal" restore capability. I just would like to check to make sure I understand everything you've said... So, I ask for the Full Eval copy, which gives me access to the Recovery Environment ISO image (not exactly sure what that means), which I use to burn a recovery environment CD.  Then I use the recovery environment CD and create the backup using that CD.  If the backup is created successfully, then I can be sure that ShadowProtect is able to see all my disks and would be able to restore.  But I don't actually try to restore anything. Do I just browse the backup that is created to see if the files seem ok (eg, documents are readable)?

Did I get that right?

I hope it won't take me too long to figure out how to create the
recovery environment CD and test it ... I do have other work to get
done!  Would it be reasonable to try to save time by only creating a
partial trial backup from the recovery CD environment?

Thanks so much for the help.

 

STC-Nate

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Yeah, you got it right.  One step you could add would be to verify your image after the backup just to make sure that the image is good.  Select "Verify Image" on the task panel on the left hand side of the GUI to do this.

I wouldn't conclusively say that a partial backup is enough for you to know that everything is going to work out okay.  You really need to spend the time to thoroughly test this stuff (this is a general principle which you should apply to any backup product) otherwise you're asking for trouble down the road when a disaster actually occurs.

newstore

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Great!  I will try it as soon as I get a chance.

 Thanks for the help!
 

ktaggart

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Hi Nate,

I am writing to you because I found this string of posts with Google, and "newstore" sounds much like me with respect to our computers, operating systems, computer experience, and our having read the very positive review of ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 in PC Mag. I have been looking for a long time for a backup program that is simple to use, does not have a bunch of bells and whistles to contribute to things going wrong, and is very reliable without being bloatware, like most current backup programs today are. I share "newstore's" anxiety that we are possibly not technical enough to handle ShadowProtect Desktop.

 My computer is a Gateway 510X. It has an Intel Pentium 4, 3000 MHz processor. It has 1024MB physical RAM. It has an internal 120 GB maxtor HD and a Seagate 120 GB USB External HD. I was fascinated by your suggestion of first backing up the system within the recovery environment. Then I can be assured that I have all the drivers necessary to perform a successful backup and restore. I believe you have given me all the info necessary to proceed on my own to obtain the Recovery Environment ISO image.

It's getting late here and we old men need our sleep. I'll read over all the material you furnished again tomorrow. I hope that since this post is buried so far back in the forum, that you can find it and supply any additional info that may occur to you. It just seemed that "newstore" and I were coming from exactly the same place, so that I didn't need to tell my whole story.

 Looking forward to hearing from you Nate.

Sincerely,

Ken T

rnc

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Hi,

 I have been been looking for backup software and after reading about this on http://www.wilderssecurity.com/ and in the review mentioned by newstore in pcmag I have been reading this thread with interest. It answers quite a few of my questions and I have a few more if thats ok.

 I have a fairly old machine, albeit with 2Gb of memory, two internal hard drives and one external NAS. How much memory does ShadowProtect take? I presume it starts on system boot? (to handle the incremental backups). Does it also rely on the Volume Shadow Copy service (which I think is currently on Manual setting in my machine).

 
 In terms of my backup 'layout' I was thinking of have ShadowProtect incrementally image to the second internal hard drive. However, as I understand it, incremental backups depend upon previous, up to and including the last full backup. So is it possible to every so often to take a 'new base line' image and start incremental images again from there? I presume, if using incremental backups, there will always be something to 'do', however small, due to e.g. changes in web browser caches on disk etc.

I was also thinking of using a third-party sync tool / replicator tool (for example, Microsoft SyncToy) to  have a second copy of my photos/music on the NAS drive. Can the image files also be transferred / copied / synced to my NAS? 

On the knowledge base in the section, " What are Some Best Practices for ShadowProtect?", you mention disk defragementer software. Given what you say in that article it seems that, if I was to defragement at any point, the best time would be just before I do a new 'base line' image using full backup. Can defragement affect/corrupt the image files? (using only the built in Microsoft defragment tool).

Finally (!), is there any difference buying from you directly or from one of your resellers that is listed on your main page (e.g. http://www.greymatter.com) ? Could you explain the maintenance option please? If we don't buy it immediately can we purchase it later on?

 

Thanks,

 

Nick
 

1wrc

ShadowProtect vs Acronis

How would you compare Full Computer image backups of ShadowProtect with the latest version of Acronis?  

I have Successfully restored systems several times using Acronis.  However, even an incremental backup (or restore) is not speedy. 

Not sure how they do it, but Acronis also allows single file restores, as well as entire disk image restores, from the same image backup.

FTTester

Re: ShadowProtect vs Acronis

My personal experience...

ShadowProtect is faster and more reliable for both backup and restore. Most people do not test the restore option until they have a system problem so it is often difficult for people to judge how good the product is. But the restore really is the critical thing. Incrementals are very fast with ShadowProtect - most people do not even notice them if they are frequent enough.

ShadowProtect allows you to mount a backup image and copy files off. You can mount the backup as a drive and even delete, copy, write to the volume. The process is non-destructive and SP creates a small incremental backup file that contains any changes you made to the mounted backup image.

Choosing a backup product has a lot to do with personal preference. If you are using Acronis and happy with it, then there is no reason to change for the sake of it. If you are interested in a different backup product, test it out first and make sure that the restore works as expected. If the restore is relatively painless, then you can feel much more confident knowing you can handle any potential failure of your machine.   

 

NeilR

Re: ShadowProtect vs Acronis

 >> Not sure how they do it, but Acronis also allows single file restores,
as well as entire disk image restores, from the same image backup.

ShadowProtect allows you to "mount" an image as a drive.  That shows up in Explorer and other file browsers (any app), allowing you to copy data off.  You can even modify the mounted image and save the changes before dismounting as an incremental backup, which is an interesting feature I have never had a need to use.  There is a recent thread, though, discussing the concept of running Chkdsk against an SP backup of a drive that might have had file system corruption (nothing to do with SP), just showing how powerful the mount feature can be.

SP full and incremental backups and restores are very fast, essentially running at the max throughput of your drives.   I have never used Acronis so can't compare, but SP can't be faster. 

 The only process that is slow is a differential backup, where SP has to read the entire original full backup image in order to determine the changes that need to be processed.  That process runs at the full throughput of the image storage drive and is determined by the size of the image file.  Differential BUs are optional though.  I use them in a attempt to keep long histories of my drives and I'm not sure it was even the best strategy, in terms of efficient use of disk space for the images, given the nature of my own data. As I said, though, incrementals are almost instantaneous (unless a lot of data has changed) and runs in the background - you never know it happened.   I do daily incrementals and a weekly diff.  I don't even notice  the relatively long diffs, which is nice and makes it a non-issue once things are set up on auto pilot.

 

 

1wrc

Re: ShadowProtect vs Acronis

Thanks much for the info.  Sounds very good.  It notes incompatability with Acronis, so I'll have to uninstall that program, but I'll give it a try.

mdhimes57

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

That was a good detailed explanation(02-15-2008 6:38 PM:), Nate.  I am familiar with the term "shadowing drives" by sector, etc.

Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 ... compatible with .... Diskeeper. I have Diskeeper 2009 Pro Premier with I-FAAST, Auto-defrag (in background), Frag Shield and etc, etc.  What happens if ShadowProtect is doing a backup and Diskeeper "changes" sectors as part of defragging. Esp the incremental backup. Am I going to end up with a "collision" between the 2 programs. I can stop Diskeeper on a specific drive when I KNOW I am doing my 1st full backup, for example, but I can't keep going in and changing Diskeeper every day, or for every incremental backup.  Any feedback or experience here ??

FTTester

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

[quote user="mdhimes57"]

That was a good detailed explanation(02-15-2008 6:38 PM:), Nate.  I am familiar with the term "shadowing drives" by sector, etc.

Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 ... compatible with .... Diskeeper. I have Diskeeper 2009 Pro Premier with I-FAAST, Auto-defrag (in background), Frag Shield and etc, etc.  What happens if ShadowProtect is doing a backup and Diskeeper "changes" sectors as part of defragging. Esp the incremental backup. Am I going to end up with a "collision" between the 2 programs. I can stop Diskeeper on a specific drive when I KNOW I am doing my 1st full backup, for example, but I can't keep going in and changing Diskeeper every day, or for every incremental backup.  Any feedback or experience here ??

[/quote] Not Nate, but I'll answer your question.

It is not a good idea to use a continuous defrag with any kind of incremental, sector-based backup application. The defrag is going to be continually changing sectors, while the backup is going to continually try to track those changes. The result will be larger, and therefore slower, incremental backups. It is less of an issue if you choose to run the odd manual, full backup. If you search the forum for "defrag" you'll see a lot of posts with advice about this. Search for "Diskeeper" and you'll find some feedback on that also.

.

mwtucker

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Hi Nate,

I, too am looking for a backup solution and wanted to thank you for your detailed explanation...

 Mike

MarilynCat

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

 I'm now leaning towards Ghost as well since I've asked a
question both on this forum and sent the question to tech support and
now to sales. I've gotten no answer. I'm now concerned that there is
little support for ShadowProtect. If I don't hear anything by the end
of the day, I am definitely going to buyGhost.

Marilyn Krieger, CCBC  

bsdice

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

I think you did not get an answer on the forums here because no one has ever used your secondary backup software together with ShadowProtect. Or used it at all for that matter. Please take the time and evaluate the product using the free 30 day trial. I am sure anything bad would turn up during daily use within those 30 days. Have you tried giving support a ring? Oh and I have found support from the company producing Ghost to be just that.

__________________

Jack of many trades, master of none.

Cola

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

Marilyn...as a former user of Norton Ghost 14, I can tell you with absolute certainty that if you think you are going to get decent help and support from Symantec (Norton), you are going to be terribly disappointed. I spent over SIX hours trying to get someone at their tech support to get their product to work for me. Needless to say, they were inept, useless and in India. I finally gave up and from suggestion by an IT buddy, was pointed in this direction.

I downloaded the trial and put it through its paces and absolutely had no problems...it works as advertised.

I am not an employee or do I make a single penny from StorageCraft, just someone who was sick and tired of Norton...hey if you want, I will gladly sell you my copy of Ghost 14....CHEAP!!! 

 

MarilynCat

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

 I take your word for it! I downloaded the trial version of ShadowProtect and am starting to put it through it's paces!

Marilyn 

tuffshed

Re: Is ShadowProtect Desktop 3.1 the right product for me?

And I'll glady sell you my copy of Acronis True Image 10 software, the support on their forums is abismal, even for well documented problems asked by knowledgable professionals...