NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
Drive Image Version 2.0 by PowerQuest
A Review by John M. Hunt, June 98
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At the May 98 meeting of the NWA-PCUG I was given for review the recently released Version 2.0 of Powerquest's Drive Image. Version 1.0 is in the group's software library; this new version will be added to the library for trial by our members.

Version 1.0 was reviewed in the December 97 issue of our newsletter by Doug MacDonald. This excellent review is available from the group Web site at www.pcgroup.nwark.com (Ed. Note: the www. may not be required) and should be downloaded for reference as virtually all of the information in the original review applies directly to Version 2.0 as well. I will confine my remarks to differences in the newer edition, together with the viewpoint of a different user. Since I have never used the older version, I probably take for granted many of the improvements in the new edition..

Drive Image is a very specialized program and is not for everybody. Although it is marginally useful as a full backup program and provides a few other functions, its principal claim to fame, and one which should make it irreplaceable to some users, is the ability to create a file which is a total replication of the contents of a single partition (Drive Letter), with totally faithful replication of the directory structure and with the ability to handle long file names as well as folders having long names. Needless to say, there is a complementary function which permits the restoration of a complete partition from a previously created image file.

These backup and restore functions are run from a modified version of DOS7, not from WIN95. This is accomplished, for either of the two operations, by booting from one of a pair of floppies which are created during installation of Drive Image. By running from the special boot floppy instead of WIN95 the problem of backing up or restoring files which are open during WIN95 operation is avoided. As a matter of interest, on a recent check I had 74 files open in WIN95 immediately after bootup, with no applications running!

The destination of the image file created during the backup process can be any drive or partition except the partition for which an image files is being created. This can be a hard drive, or any of the several types of removable storage such as Jaz or Zip drives or magneto-optical. It cannot write the image to tape or to writable CD Roms, however.

Why would anyone want such a simplistic program, especially if they have fully functional backup hardware and software? Read On!

If you are continuously installing and uninstalling new software, hardware, and hardware firmware upgrades, as some of us in the group are, you undoubtedly have encountered registry and configuration problems, the disappearance of formerly functional devices such as modems and scanners, complaints from WIN95 about missing or improper software, etc. All of these problems are related to an attempt to change the configuration of your computer which you have innocently blundered into. While these problems presumably can be solved by analytic reasoning, it requires an incredible degree of professional knowledge to attack the problem. The lazy solution is to simply erase the entire C: drive, as the problem may be lurking in many places beside the myriad of WIN95 system files themselves.

The not so lazy price of this solution is restoring the C: drive without any DOS or WIN95 system files. Early WIN95 users will recall the almost two year wait for truly functional "emergency restore" functions to be provided in any available backup system, and even now these operations are slow and clumsy. For example, Seagate Backup Exec for WIN95, possibly the best of the available backups, insists on slowly rewriting the entire hard drive if invoked from the "disaster recovery" floppies.

An example of how easy it is to accomplish this process with Drive Image is given below. I have 2592 files totaling 166 megabytes in my C: drive, as I make a really serious effort to keep everything in other partitions. Drive Image offers three different levels of compression, these being none, some, and maximum, the speed of operation being inversely proportional to the degree of compression. I used the maximum compression to obtain an image file of 82 megabytes in 94 seconds; less compression would have been faster but obviously not needed.

The restoration process (which in the real world would of course have taken place at a later time after disaster struck) required about 30 seconds to format the 400 megabyte C: drive, admittedly with a fairly fast SCSI drive, followed by restoration from the hard drive image file in 86 seconds.

The desktop after restart is identical to that at the time the image file was made; even the icons are all in their original positions.

I can be very brave about employing such a seemingly draconian solution because of previous experience with the much slower CodeBlue2. The first time you try the "bleach and replace" process it is a bit worrisome!

I tried the image file creation to a magneto-optical drive directly but is seemed to be slow so I terminated the process before completion. Unless you are very short of hard drive space it is easier to create the image on a hard drive, then restart WIN95 and store the image to the removable media. In my case it took 65 seconds to transfer the image to magop.

Presumably a similar situation prevails with Jaz and Zip drives. There is no reason not to simply save one or more historic images on a hard drive and never transfer them. The advantage of the removable copy is of course the possibility of total hard drive failure. A removable image also is useful for the installation of a new hard drive in the system.

To those who insist on operating a system with a single partition, the quick fix outlined above is somewhat less alluring, but only because of the size of the image file created.

The Drive Image manual (which is an unusually clear and visually attractive publication) states that the floppy operation aspects of the program can be run with FAT 32, with Windows NT, and with OS/2. I doubt that it can support the advanced file management systems of NT and OS/2, however. I do not foresee any problems under WIN98. I doubt that it runs under any version of Unix, but be aware that my ignorance of Unix is awesome.

To those of us early masochists who reinstalled WIN95 from scratch about five times during late 1995, this program surely would have been a lifesaver. If similar frustrations arise with the update to WIN98, be prepared with Drive Image!

Drive Image offers several other useful but not unique functions. See the library copy of the Drive Image manual, as they are too numerous to describe here.

Powerquest, the makers of Drive Image, has a special offer, good until July 31st, to members of groups such as NWA-PCUG for $35.00 for the full retail product, which lists for $69.95. (Ed. Note: Orders must be made on the "brochure form", or on PowerQuest's secure order form on their web page using the special order code and URL printed on the "brochure form", distributed at the May 16th meeting).

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