By Terry Currier
Backup programs backup those files you want at appointed times. Shadow from NTI (Newtech Infosystems) is not a true backup program. It is used to mirror the contents of folders to wherever the user wants. Their target market is people who want to protect their data, but not necessarily backing up all of the computer. When you first start up Shadow click on new and you’re looking at a simple interface with five buttons on the left side: what, where, how, when, and summary.
Click on the add and it brings up a browser for you to check off which folders you want to backup. You can not select individual files only folders. It will copy all of those folders’ files and the subfolders beneath it. It mirrors my actions. If I change a file within the source folder it will copy it to the destination drive. If I copy a file to a source folder which it monitors, it puts a copy of the file in the mirrored folder. Be aware when you deleted a file Shadow will do the same on the mirrored folder. Works the same for corrupted or infected files. When Shadow sees that a file is changed it will copy that file. Shadow saves the files to the destination in its native format. This means there will be no encryption or compression, it is an exact copy of the original. Really nice that you don’t have to bring up another program to restore a file, just copy it back.
One thing I found out about the what and how using Shadow. When you pick a folder which has a number of subfolders to backup it copies them whole and intact. But what if you don’t want all of them. For example if you want to backup the My Documents folder since that has your Word and Excel files. Windows also puts under it: My eBooks, My Music, My Pictures, and My Videos. You know you have no files in My eBooks, and you don’t want to save My Video so you uncheck the boxes. What will happens is on the destination drive you will have separate folders for My Music, My Pictures, and any others folders you had. They are not grouped together. Further any of those Word and Excel files you wanted to save were not, since that top folder was not checked off. I found that out when I thought I would save my Windows folder, but not the Windows updates. Shadow put 50 folders on the destination drive with no grouping.
When you click on the Where button you’d think a browser would open up for you to choose where to put the backup. Actually you still have to click the change button. Why? If they can bring up a browser for What, they should have done the same for Where. You can backup to another drive, or to a folder on a drive. You can also backup to a USB flash/thumb drive.
Shadow put a hidden file on my USB flash drive which will identify it as being the one USB drive for it to copy the files to. NTI says – “Because driver letters are dynamically assigned to removable store devices by Windows, the applications should execute a backup job to a removable device only if that unique device was used when first configuring the job.”
In practice, not quite. I put one flash drive in and setup a job for it to backup my test folders. That worked fine, it did copy and delete what it was suppose to do while it was in. I then took it out and copied some other files to the source folders. Putting in a different flash drive. Shadow did not copy the added files to the new flash drive, but when I did a revision of a document in the source folder it did copy those to the new drive just as if the original device was in. Putting in the original flash drive Shadow updated it correctly.
This is where you can truly create backups. How lets you configure revisions to save. You can save none, unlimited, or up to 9 versions. So when you revise a file it will copy the saved version to the mirrored folder, but it also archive a copy (copies) in another folder labeled Revisions before overwriting it with the newer version. Shadow gives me the option of up to 9 copies.
You can use Filter to save just those certain files you want, saving you time and space for the backup. Filter will let you select all or;
I notice when I used the filters it did not copy my html files. You can choose to have Shadow show a progress window while copying. I used it and liked the pop up window showing when files are being backed up.
You can scheduled it to perform the actual backup operation immediately after data is modified, every certain number of minutes/hours/days, or on certain days at specified times. I chose immediately after I made a change, and it does copy the file right away.
Through each of the actions you click next till it gets you to the end where Shadow summarizes the job to you. If something is wrong you can go back and edit it. Actually you can edit or delete a job anytime you want. Beyond the before mentioned things what I found most problematic was Shadow not installing itself into startup. The user could setup a job and think they were protected. But, when the computer is restarted Shadow is not loaded and no backups are preformed. You will have to start it yourself to keep backed up. I sent an email to NTI saying “I see upon shutting down or rebooting the computer it does not restart itself. Is it suppose to be in startup?.” I received an automated response back from NTI, but no answer from them. They said give them 48 hours, but after two weeks no response.
Is Shadow a good program and worth the month. Well yes, because anything the helps the user protect and backup the computer is a good thing. Especially right now since NTI has a special price of 99 cents rather than $29.95. Go to http://www.ntius.com/ and click on the top banner. What I would recommend is taking the offer of 50% off of the Backup Now! suite for complete protection.
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