(Note: this post is late (and back-dated) because I was out of town over the weekend for my 20-year high school reunion and my mother is the only person in the country without an internet connection. Those of you subscribed to the e-mail list got your newsletter on time, though.)
Last week I promised to check out TrueImage and Retrospect for those who don’t want to go the Bart-PE route of creating a boot CD with Ghost 8 on it, but are also not too sure about Ghost 9.
I downloaded trial versions of both Dantz Retrospect 7 and TrueImage 8 to check them out. One thing I liked about TrueImage immediately (tipped off by a comment on the blog after my entry on Ghost 9) was the fact that you could create a bootable program CD and use it to back up from outside Windows. It goes like this:
1) Install TrueImage
2) Start TrueImage (you may notice that the icons and setup look surprisingly like DriveImage, the product which Symantec subsumed into Ghost 9)
3) Select “Create bootable Rescue Media” under “Tools” in the side panel or from the top menu
4) Insert a CD into a CD-R drive, or prepare 7 floppy disks for a machine with a floppy drive. I chose the CD.
5 ) Follow the remaining instructions to burn the CD.
6) Reboot your computer with the CD in the drive. After some time, TrueImage will start up, looking exactly like it did in Windows, except at a lower resolution. Click “Create Image.”
At this point two things happened: first, I got a notice that it would take 3 hours to back up my 20 GB hard drive, and second, I got a notice that with the trial version you have to make backups from within Windows. I wasn’t about to devote 3 hours of my day to doing that, or rather, to leave the computer for 3 hours when I needed it.
Yes, I know that in theory you can use your computer while a program like TrueImage, Ghost 9, or Retrospect is backing up. But my feeling is that the more a file is changing, the more likely there is to be an error in the copying, and I don’t want to take that kind of chance. This is one reason for scheduling backups to take place in the middle of the night, which is when the major systems backing up to tape usually do it. (If you’re nocturnal, like the Ur-Guru, then you would schedule the backup for the time the rest of us are getting out of bed.) I tend to start my Ghost 8 backups (which also, of course, mean not being able to use the computer) when I am going out to an appointment or taking a break for lunch.
Anyway, TrueImage looked pretty promising, and I would take it over Ghost 9 purely on the basis of being able to back up from outside Windows, though it takes longer. (Ghost 9, so far as I could tell, took about an hour and a half to back up, and part of that was due to the USB 1.1 connection speed—though I also had less on my drive at the time I used it.)
Then I installed the trial of Retrospect 7 and started it up. It opens to the “Backup Overview” screen and offers scheduled or immediate backups, and also progressive (incremental) or complete backups. There’s no way (that I could find) to create a CD that will make a backup, but it is possible to use an existing backup to make a CD, or rather a series of them, that you can restore from.
I went through the wizard and selected (I thought) my C drive to back up to my X drive (that’s the letter I gave to my external hard drive). The wizard gives you choices about what you want to back up: Documents and Settings, My Computer, My Computer and computers on my network, and Let me choose. Since I was aiming to make an image of the entire drive a la Ghost, I selected “My Computer.” The next screen asks you to select the types of files you want to back up; in this case they were all checked automatically. Then “Where do you want the backup to be stored?” and “When do you want to back up?” Following that you’re asked to name your backup set. It’s not just a backup, you see, it’s a backup set, because any incremental backups will be put in the same place. You’re then given the option to compress your data, which it’s almost always a good idea to do, and to encrypt it, ditto. (Encryption is one point very much in Retrospect’s favor.)
Then you click Start Now and find out that it will take 3 hours to back up your half-full 20 GB hard drive, or at least, that’s what happened to me.
After a while of this, my computer got bored and went to sleep. After a little while longer, so did I.
When I woke up in the morning, I found that Retrospect had finished with my C drive and was trying to copy my X drive onto itself. This was obviously not going to work, not least because the 80 GB X drive only had about 20 GB of room left on it, so I cancelled the backup.
I think I could avoid that particular problem by selecting “Let me choose” in the wizard, but one trial was enough for me. There wasn’t anything in Retrospect to suggest to me that it would be a better choice than TrueImage. There certainly wasn’t anything to suggest it would be a better solution than Ghost 8, which even on USB 1.1 made a complete drive copy in less than 90 minutes.
However, it’s Retrospect, or rather Retrospect Express, that gets bundled with the Maxtor One-Touch drives. I’m not sure how the Express version differs from the full version. At this point, I’m not sure I want to know, either, though I know people for whom it works just fine. It’s probably easiest to use if you aren’t used to something else. It’s also something that works on Macs as well as PCs, which is an obvious point in its favor for Mac users.
Me, I’m going to stick to Ghost 8.