ShadowProtect Desktop 4 is the latest backup and imaging software from StorageCraft. It takes backup images at regular intervals to provide constant protection against data loss. Also included is VirtualBoot, which can boot backup images as a virtual machine in only minutes.
- Continuous data backup
- Full disk imaging
- Sleek interface
- At $90, more expensive than competitors
- No auto verify after backup completion
- Complicated rescue media creation
The Bottom Line
ShadowProtect is powerful, full disk imaging software best suited to power users.
Installation and Setup
To install ShadowProtect, run the installer and click Next through the menus. When it’s finished, you’ll need to restart your computer.
I love the simplicity of the ShadowProtect interface. It is large, attractive, and functional. When you first start the program, you’ll be presented with three simple wizards to backup or restore your computer.
Running the backup wizard, it asks you to specify one or more volumes to backup. Choose a destination to store your backups on. Select a backup schedule such as weekly, monthly, or “continuous incrementals.”
You can choose which days to take full and incremental backups on. For example, you may elect to take a full backup on the 1st and 15th of every month, and incremental backups during every other day. This would ensure you never go more than two weeks without a full backup. Additionally, you can choose how often to take backups throughout the day. Such as every 60 minutes, starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 6 p.m.
This style of continuous data protection is what separates ShadowProtect from other backup software.
Next, set up compression and encryption options. There are also a few advanced options under the hood. Settings such as performance throttling, using a retention policy (to automatically delete old backups), and custom commands. You’ll be given the option to review all your settings before running your backup.
To restore a backup, use the Restore wizard. To recover a system volume, you’ll need to boot into the Recovery Environment CD.
The recovery CD is created using the ISOTool program bundled with ShadowProtect. The whole process for creating rescue media is way more complicated than it needs to be. It entails entering your serial number, downloading a .iso file, and then using that file in ISOTool to burn the CD. Rescue media creation is not available in the trial version either. I hope StorageCraft addresses this in future versions.
The recovery environment is almost identical to the desktop version.
The recovery environment includes network support and many other tools you can find in the desktop version. I felt the whole process was very intuitive and it’s clear StorageCraft has put a lot of effort into their software.
The main feature of ShadowProtect is to constantly back up your computer. The default interval of “every 60 minutes” can be adjusted to suit your needs.
Recovery from dissimilar hardware
Sometimes the computer you’re restoring to is different than the computer you originally backed up. This can cause problems with the OS, which still has the old PC hardware stored in registry values and such. ShadowProtect allows recovery even when the hardware in your computer changes.
Mount your backups as spare drives with this feature.
VirtualBoot lets users boot a backup image in a Virtual Machine environment. This allows you to “test” a backup image by booting into it first, without restoring. This is also useful in situations where immediate access to applications and data is important, because restoring can take a long time.
Another use could be this: Say you need access to data in an old backup image, but the data can only be read by software that you no longer have. You could boot into the image, launch the software, and read the data from within the software – all without restoring.
Image Conversion Tool
This allows you to modify options for an existing backup image. Options such as: compression, encryption, split/combine image, and collapse all incremental backups into a full backup. It can also convert backup images into VMDK (VMware) and VHD (Microsoft Virtual PC) images.
This will let you manage installations of ShadowProtect on other computers. Say you have family members or coworkers running ShadowProtect. You could use this single window to manage them all. I like that StorageCraft decided to include this feature. With other backup software, you sometimes have to buy additional add ons for remote management capabilities.
Free support is included for the first year. This provides a two hour response time for emergency-level cases.
StorageCraft has three levels of paid support:
Standard Support which covers the above two hour response time for any ticket submitted between 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Premium Support which will get you 24/7 service with a one hour response time via telephone.
Incident Support which is for single issue support (use anytime), with the same 24/7 service as Premium.
StorageCraft has a guide for which types of tickets are of low, medium, high, and Emergency level importance. The support request I submitted was of Low importance which has a response time of 48 hours or less. I received my response in less than two hours.
|Product Name||ShadowProtect Desktop|
|Files and Folders|
|Full Disk Image|