When you can't avoid the crash
True to its word, Recover Pro 6 software works when Windows won't
|GCN Lab Reviewer's Choice|
- By Greg Crowe
- Jun 28, 2006
Every IT manager knows the importance of having a recovery plan in case of software failure. If a computer's data becomes corrupted, or a file crucial to running the operating system is deleted, you need some other way to boot the system and recover the data.
In many cases this means a startup or recovery CD, which holds the original operating system and can reinstall it. But if the version of the operating system on the CD isn't current, there could still be hours of updating to get the system up to snuff. Also, none of the user files that might have been corrupted will be fixed.
The only way to recover current copies of both the operating system and the local user files is to have an up-to-date backup, which itself can be an imperfect solution (otherwise, why wouldn't people regularly back up their PCs?). Saving a ghost copy of a hard drive to the network is an option, but as computer hard drives get larger, storing backups of all of them on a network drive can eat up network storage, which is often at a premium.
Recover Pro 6 from Phoenix Technologies overcomes many of those difficulties by storing recovery information right on the hard drive that needs recovering. It's different from other recovery solutions because it lets you boot the computer even if Windows is damaged and won't launch. And it will restore everything back to the way it was before the disaster occurred.
We found the installation of Recover Pro to be quick and simple. The company does recommend that in order to ensure it runs optimally you defragment your hard drive before installing Recover Pro. If there's still not enough space on your hard drive to install it, Recover Pro can optimize the drive so there is room for it.
From a straight recovery point of view, there are three different types of backup tools available. First is Quick Backup, which runs just prior to installing a new piece of software or a major upgrade. If something goes wrong, the Quick Backup can restore the system to the state it was in when the backup was made. Quick Backups can be scheduled to run at certain times or every time the system boots up.
You'd use the Complete Backup option if you want an additional layer of protection. With it you can back your entire hard drive to another local drive, a network drive, or even a bootable CD. You can also compress it, but at the cost of some restoration time.
The File Backup tool allows you to target specific files to back up to any place the other two options use.
Recovery options are similarly straightforward: You can restore the whole hard drive from either a Quick or Complete Backup, or just select files within the backup.
Now, because Phoenix is a long-time BIOS maker, the company knows a bit about those brief moments in time before Windows actually starts running. That expertise has gone into Recover Pro.
If something happens that prevents Windows from booting properly, you can access the Phoenix Always Instant-on recovery environment by pressing F4 during startup.
From there you have the same recovery options you would have when running the program from within Windows. A word of warning, though: This environment does not work on some older systems you might still have around, so it would be a good idea to test the software before you actually need it.
In our time with the product, Recover Pro managed to restore every file we changed or deleted since the last backup. The Phoenix Always Instant-on environment was easy to use, and with it we were able to restore files that were vital to running the Windows XP operating system we had on our test computer. We found Quick Backups to take up very little hard drive space, as they are block-level 'snapshots' of a drive's data.
The list price of $49.95 is a little more than we'd expect to pay for the product, especially considering how many copies a typical IT administrator might have to buy to protect all the computers under their protection. However, there's good news for government buyers. Recover Pro is on a GSA schedule (GS-35F-0330J) for $40.94, which we think is more reasonable.
Greg Crowe is a former GCN staff writer who covered mobile technology.