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Drive Image - Product Review

by Harald Freise

With 4.3GB hard disks selling in the mid $300.00 range I’m really tempted to get one for my overcrowded system. The thing stopping me is that I dread is the thought of reinstalling everything on the new drive. Many, many hours of tweaking, downloading and installing slipstream releases, new drivers and assorted other necessary stuff to make my system run just right and the way I want it to. With just a few simple steps, Drive Image can copy your current hard drive to your new drive while keeping every setting and byte of data safely in place.

When I mentioned that I was about to use Drive Image, a colleague scoffed and said "why not use XCOPY, it does the same thing." Well actually, no, it doesn’t. Drive Image includes PartitionMagic’s resize technology so you can resize your partitions after copying them to the destination drive. XCOPY can only copy files from point A to Point B.

Going from a couple of 1.6 GB disks to a pair of 4.3GB disks allows me several options that I didn’t have with "just copying the files over to the new drive." I can choose to resize my partitions in several different ways. I can have Drive Image automatically resize my partitions to take up the remaining free space on the destination drive. I could have Drive Image leave the remaining free space unused or I could choose to resize the partitions manually. I could also choose to do disk to disk copies with file system error and bad sector checking to prevent copy problems. Since Drive Image only copies used sectors it would also be a lot faster on a fragmented drive.

Drive Image is a DOS program with a straightforward interface. The manual is very good in explaining the steps necessary to prepare and replicate a drive or any portion of it. If nothing else the appendices are worth reading as they provide an excellent tutorial on hard drives, formatting, file systems and understanding partitions. There is some very good drive related resource material and valuable troubleshooting tips there as well.

Removable media is supported so that you could back up your drive any to spanned Floppy, Jazz, Zip, network, secondary or whatever drives you’ve got handy a the time. It supports Win 95, NT, Win 3.x, DOS, OS/2 including Fat, Fat32, NTFS, and HPFS partition types. According to the manual it even understands and to a limited amount supports NetWare, Linux and UNIX.

How long would it take you to recreate an exact copy of your computer, the way it is set up now, if you lost a hard drive? Further, How long would it take to recreate all the data that you have stored on your drive? Got any fax or mail lists? Do you use a PIM? Taking risks with your data is something you shouldn’t do. You know you should take the steps to protect it (like performing regular backups) but doing so is often relegated to "I’ll do it next week" process.

With Drive Image, you could create and store a compressed backup file of your entire hard drive, or just the partitions you specify, to the storage medium of your choice. The image file can be downloaded from the backup source to completely restore your operating systems, applications, and data exactly as it was when you first copied the image. Think about it.

Included with Drive Image are two utilities that can be helpful in finding and changing drive letters assignments for partitions and CD-ROM drives. DriveMapper changes one drive letter at a time to reflect a new drive letter references. MagicMover helps in moving applications from one partition to another with their associated files and system settings.

Drive Image isn’t for everyone but it sure does make a job of creating disk images a lot easier than without it. If you can use the services it can provide, it is worth every penny.

Bottom Line:

Drive Image

Originally published: February, 1998

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