Blog for hpHosts, and whatever else I feel like writing about ....

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Paragon Hard Disk Manager Professional v12

How do you take a break from work, whilst still getting things ticked off of your to-do list? Well, if you’re like me – you quite simply, don’t take a break. I’ve been awake for almost 36 hours, working flat out, with the exception of the 2 hours I had to take earlier, and decided I needed a break. One of the things on my to-do list, was a review of Paragon’ Hard Disk Manager Professional.

One of the benefits of the WiFi not working all of the time, on my journey down to the other end of the country, earlier this month, was the fact I could get things done that didn’t require one – things such as this. Though I’m now re-writing this yet again. One of the benefits of being an MVP (I’m going somewhere with this, bear with me – if you’ve made it this far), is the fact you not only get access to Microsoft’ software, but you also get free licenses for certain third party software. Some such third parties, require a review, some request it, others don’t, they give you the licence regardless. I mention this, because had I not, it would’ve left this review open to scrutiny due to non-disclosure – so consider it mentioned – the reason I was able to use this at all, was due to Paragon giving me a license.

Now, before you all decide where this is going, as mentioned, bear with me. I’ve been using various programs from Paragon for a while now, some great, others not so great. For example, one program I couldn’t get used to, due to its only allowing backups to a USB drive, and not for example, a remote or UNC location, was System Backup 2010 (what was to become System Backup 11). System Backup 2010 a great program for the average user that has their machine constantly plugged in to an external backup drive (dedicated to backups only), but not for those of us that require something that allows additional backup locations to be specified, which is where Paragon’ other products come in.

HDM however, lies somewhere in between. It is a great piece of software if you like things quick, simple and without the usual options normally required by those of us a little more picky.

One of the features of this program, and by far its best feature, is the addition of a BartPE CD/DVD/USB, that comes with it. This however, is to be lost, due to changes in Windows licensing (see my blog). However, I am very happy to report, that the option to create a bootable media (CD/DVD/USB), is very much here to stay, and can be found within the program. This uses Linux, rather than BartPE.

This option, you will find under Tools > Recovery Media Builder.

To go through all of the features available, would take far more than the time I’ve got here, so I’ll keep it to the best features – those you’ll be most likely to need and use.

The recovery option speaks for itself, things do tend to go wrong occasionally, it’s a fact of well, everything – but if you’re doing things properly, then you should already have backups (and this is a bear minimum.);
  1. Locally stored
  2. Remotely stored
Ideally, you should have two locally stored, but I realise not everyone has an endless supply of available storage, especially for things such as this, given the amount of space they typically require.

Take a typical disk backup, if your hard drive is 500GB, then you need two other 500GB drives (one local, one remote), for a disk backup, in case the drive itself fails. This quite obviously, needs to be kept up to date. To do this with HDM, all you do is select Wizards > Schedule Hard Disk Copy.

You also however, ideally need a “clean state” backup. This compromises an image of either your system partition, or an image of the drive. For this, you can either select Wizards > Smart Backup, or right click the drive/partition you wish to image, and select Backup Hard Disk or Backup Partition. From here, you have the benefit of both backup worlds – you can select to store it locally, or on your network (i.e. a NAS), or on a remote server.

One thing to bear in mind, of storing backups on remote servers – the backup isn’t done on the local machine then transferred – it’s backed up remotely – on the fly. As such, unless you’re on a fast connection, you’ll likely want to backup to a NAS/backup machine, a second drive, or a separate spare partition, and then zip and transfer the image to your remote location.

When storing locally, simply select your desired backup location (ideally a dedicated backup partition), select your compression options, and away you go. I personally like to make sure it is using Paragon Hot Processing over Volume Shadow Copy, as it seems faster and more reliable, and of course, assigning a password to the backup is a given.

Which brings me to one of the downsides of the program. Even when un-ticking “Split image up to”, you’ll find you have multiple files for the image, which is contrary to most other imaging programs I’ve used (e.g. for those of us that prefer the single ISO or VHD option). Unless you’re as fickle as I am however, this isn’t too important, as they’re only for a backup, they’re not going to be used for virtual disks.

I’ll delve further into the program in future parts, for now, I must get back to work. In the meantime, if you'd like to take a look at the software yourself, you'll find it here;

Disclosure: Whilst there's no affiliate links or rubbish like that, I must disclose that I got the license for free.

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