PowerQuest Drive Image
utility for hard drive backups. Version 2002 reviewed,
included with version 7.
consumer package of PowerQuest's current version
of their Drive Image software
has support for very large hard drives, built-in partitioning
tools, an automation option,
(some) network functionality,
and a redesigned user interface.
It enables certain
types of operations to be
completed from the Windows interface, but for the main one
(backing up your system drive) you'll still be spending time in
DOS. That's okay though. We consider that a feature,
and PowerQuest includes a working version of the old command
interpreter for the DOS impaired
Floppy boot recovery
Some reviewers talk as though the DOS
requirement is some kind of problem, but we strongly disagree.
When it comes to the point of recovery from a failed hard drive,
DOS is your best and oldest friend. It enables you to
accomplish something useful (run this software for example) when
Windows is missing in action. And nothing has to be
installed to use it. In our opinion, backup software that
does not operate from this level is useless in a real emergency.
that increasing numbers of prospective customers will not have
ever seen a DOS prompt, and the software requires no knowledge of
the command line interface. The boot disk (created in the
Windows interface), automatically presents the user with a
familiar "mouse and icon" environment sufficiently intuitive for
anyone to operate.
Although it does a
whole lot more, this software exists to make it easy for you to
restore a backed up system to an otherwise blank hard drive, a job
it does extremely well. For that alone it's worth it's
More about backups...
A spitting image...
Unlike other backup software,
Drive Image does not deal primarily in selected files and folders.
Rather, it takes the far more inclusive (and far more reliable)
approach of backing up your whole hard drive. An "image"
file contains every block and sector of the imaged drive,
including information often left behind by other programs.
Drive Image's basic
unit of manipulation is not the file or folder, nor even the drive
itself- it's the hard drive partition, a section of the
hard drive's disk that houses the information that comprises what
we generally mean when we talk about a drive- the full
logical structure of all the information it contains: software,
application data, and most significantly, system data.
More about partitions...
This is a very simple, and extremely
powerful, concept- one that reaches full utility with systems that
have been partitioned into multiple logical drives.
Each of these may be imaged or restored independently of any
others. Properly thought out and arranged, these can greatly
simplify and streamline computer maintenance and backup
operations. Not the least of considerations: an image can be
restored to a new location, a different drive, even a different
computer. Think about that, and what it could mean for you.
For those times when
you need only to restore a few files or folders, the package
includes "Image Explorer". As its name implies, this
Explorer-like interface allows you to pick and choose specific
items to pluck from an image file, rather than engage a full-scale
Although 2002 includes
some useful partitioning tools, we'd recommend PowerQuest's
advanced partitioning capabilities.
Drive Image copies one partition to another, or to a file which
may be stored on any kind of media. This allows you a great
deal of flexibility. You can use it to copy an old hard
drive to its new replacement, copy a data drive from one location
to another, restore your system partition without disturbing
others, and a lot of other nifty things.
Image files can be
compressed, so they won't require as much space as the original,
and split, so they'll fit onto CD's. Drive Image 2002 can
record directly to almost any modern CD writer, but with the size
of modern hard drives, even DVD's can start stacking up.
You can copy to CD,
another partition, another hard drive, or to a mapped network
drive. The latter is very useful for a notebook system,
though the customized boot disk required can be difficult to set
up- you must identify and install a suitable DOS mode driver for
your notebook's network card.
partitions or (especially) a network, you can schedule periodic
automated images of any but your system's boot partition.
For a very structured, modular setup, this can be extremely
useful. We'll confess to not having reached that level of
organization. We're not sure whether we aspire to it.
In fact, we use a
simple batch file to copy our current data to the network, but for
a real, archival, recover-from-disaster type of backup, it needs
to be stored offline- on something that will be removed from the
system and kept safely from harm's way.
We've installed a
removable hard drive rack, and temporarily insert a second
physical drive for doing these kinds of backups. This is
much quicker, much more convenient, and in the long run less
expensive than other storage options.
Removable hard drive racks are available online here...
Handily, when creating
an image file on expansive media, Drive Image has an option to
split it into multiple files, the size of which the user can
determine. We use this to provide the option of archival to
CD from our secondary backup drive.
For the truly
motivated, Drive Image 2002 includes a "virtual floppy" editor,
which enables booting a recovery session directly from CD or a
specially prepared partition on your hard drive.
Building on its
previous releases, Drive Image 2002 has evolved into a tool that's
easy enough for novices, yet advanced enough for experts- with
some potentially extremely useful tools included.
The current version
includes unobtrusive "wizards" and inline instructions, together
with an excellent and informative help section- making it a good
choice for beginner or intermediate users, as well as
partitioning, automation, and network facilities for the more
The network support is
limited- you can create an image on a mapped network drive, but
you cannot capture a partition that resides outside your machine.
For that, you'll need the more expensive corporate edition, Drive
For the typical home
or small office user, this is not a serious limitation.
Overall, this software receives our strongest recommendation.
More about Drive Image...