Paragon Software has been offering backup and disk management tools since 1994 and the company's expertise is evident in its newest product, Paragon Backup and Recovery 10 Suite.
Paragon Backup and Recovery 10 Suite comes in both 64- and 32-bit versions; we downloaded both for testing. The application has an attractive interface that's clearly aimed at making the product easy to use. First-time users can quickly identify how to perform backups, restore files without a manual.
Large descriptive menu buttons make it easy to launch wizards that make backup, restoration, file selection, creating rescue media and building schedules relatively straightforward. A tabbed interface located on the left side allows users to drill down into some of the more advanced features, such as converting images to virtual hard drives or browsing existing images to copy individual files.
Most users will find using the Smart Backup the best option. It's very easy to use and offers a good level of customisation during the definition process. Options let you target email, media files or documents; or to manually select specific files. The product offers multiple options for the location of a backup files, including network drives, DVD-R and upload to FTP site.
Some users may be confused by Paragon Backup and Recovery 10 Suite's virtual mode. Basically, all operations are ‘stored' and do not occur until you hit an Apply button to activate the task - in other words, a sort of a full dress rehearsal. Advanced users can forgo the virtual mode in the program's preferences.
One very nifty feature is the product's ability to convert an image into a virtual hard drive. That way, if you system fails altogether, you can run that image as a virtual hard drive on a system that has desktop virtualization. This could prove a fast way to retrieve important data or run applications during a system disaster.
You can also create a WinPE 2.0 (preinstallation environment), a bootable recovery platform that can be made into a recovery disc.
The app includes a component that sits in the Windows system tray, which automates backups using a snapshot process: a static version of the current data on the hard drive is created. When the application detects changes on the hard drive by comparing snapshots, an incremental backup is executed.
We were able to back up 70GB of data to a USB external hard drive in about two hours and 15 minutes. Subsequent backups using the incremental setting only took a few minutes, depending upon how much had changed on the hard drive.
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