We all know the importance of data back-up, but in these days of regular OS security patches, CAD application service patches, application complexity, worms and viruses, means of rapid and reliable system restores can be crucial.
While HyperOS enables system images to be created in combination with multiple operational OS set-ups, Drive Image 7 from PowerQuest, publishers of the excellent Partition Magic, allows conventional single OS PC's to be imaged.
This release offers built-in network and removable drive support for protection from hard disk failure and the active boot partition can be imaged without needing to drop out to DOS and reboot.
The clean interface offers two alternative views, basic providing quick and easy access to the commonly used features and the advanced view with tabs of additional information and tools to schedule backup jobs.
Four levels of compression rates can be set to control the balance between image size and speed.
My live system partition of 1.4Gb used space was backed up to another partition on the same physical disk in just under four minutes using standard compression creating an image file of 954Kb and 13 minutes at the highest compression to 749Kb.
The former restored in a similar 3 and a half minutes and was immediately re-bootable.
Drive Image 7 is only compatible with Windows 2000 SP2 and XP although a copy of Drive Image 2002 is bundled for use with other Windows versions.
The Microsoft .NET framework is installed and the V2i virtual volume imaging service started providing the right clicking option for an image file be mounted as a virtual disk with a local drive letter to access individual files or folders using the normal Windows explorer.
Regular back-ups can be scheduled, making file browsing an excellent means of recovering those files often overlooked when restoring a clean drive image such as a custom dictionary, favourites etc.
In-built security features also control the ability to create, read, or restore backups.
Should the reason for resorting to an image be a catastrophic system failure, the PQRE, PowerQuest Recovery Environment bootable CD can be used to access the system and identify an image or critical files to be restored from the local machine or a UNC network location using a windows style interface.
PQRE identifies the ethernet adaptor and allows an IP address to be assigned.
Using a network or spanning image files onto USB or firewire storage devices including CD / DVD burners, Drive Image can also be used to transfer data when upgrading to a new hard disk.
Following the restore of a clean OS, the speed increase over a clogged system can be a revelation.
If you install lots of software, are concerned about the potential detrimental effects of patches or want a quick and secure means of recovering from a virus attack, Drive Image represents a valuable utility.
With disks currently dropping to £83 for 160Gb of storage, and Drive Image at a street price of £35 there is little reason not to have a sound system back-up strategy as well as the essential provisions for data.