Phoenix FirstWare Recover Pro 2004

Quick look

Backup and recovery software

Price: $40

Web: www.phoenix.com

Phone: 800-446-9202

If you're like me, you rarely backed up your PC data until one day when your system crashed and you spent hours rebuilding it. So you started backing things up. Farther down the road, you were using your notebook on a business trip when it crashed. Good thing you backed up the data'but wait, you left the CD and recovery disk at home. Not to mention that Windows wouldn't boot up, so you couldn't access your backup software if you tried, nor could you use Windows Restore to reset your system to a previous state.

I'm not going to admit to any of this scenario specifically, but let's say I'm glad I received a copy of Recover Pro 2004 from Phoenix Technologies Ltd. of Milpitas, Calif. This invaluable software program is new and works great.

In a nutshell, Recover Pro 2004 makes backing up data easy'without needing removable media'and it can quickly reset a system to an earlier, precrash, previrus state even if Windows won't boot.

Recover Pro 2004 works by creating a safe, hidden partition on your hard drive for holding backup information. Installing the program is straightforward and can take from minutes to about an hour, depending on the state of your hard drive. (Phoenix recommends you defrag before loading the software.) The size of the partition will vary based on your system. Mine was about 20G.

During installation, Recover Pro installs Phoenix's Core Management Environment, which is a pre-Windows OS application, meaning you can access it by pressing F4 while the system is booting. You can also run it from the Windows desktop and choose to create either Quick Backups, which are essentially saved restore points, or Complete Backups, which you can use to reimage your hard drive if necessary. Not surprisingly, a Complete Backup eats up a big chunk of disk space.

Users can specify how often they want to create restore points, such as every time the system starts. I found that creating restore points took very little time and only delayed Windows start-up by seconds.

If there's a caveat, it's that Recover Pro 2004 currently works only with newer versions of Windows (XP SP1 or higher; 2000 SP3 or higher). And although the software supports backups to CDs and DVDs (I'd recommend doing so occasionally for additional protection), it doesn't currently work with USB- or FireWire-connected external hard drives.

Still, Recover Pro 2004 should be part of the systems management arsenal for individual users and the IT shops that support them.

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