R-Drive Image 4.7
While some companies spend a lot of time and effort adding fringe features that few users will ever need, or gussying up the interface and calling it a major upgrade, R-Tools Technology spends its time making sure its programs are fast and work correctly. Case in point: R-Drive Image 4.7. While the GUI is simple (but easy to learn and use), the feature-list is not: full, incremental, and differential backups; compression; disk cloning; encryption; and support for Windows Dynamic Disks (a bugaboo with some imaging programs) and BSD slices (Linux partitions); split files; optical media support; file system conversion.
Every feature worked fine in my testing. The program is fast, and I particularly liked the way R-Drive Image mounts a backup image. With R-Drive Image, you use the program itself to mount the image as a read-only virtual drive with its own drive letter. This eliminates a background process when you don't need it, and renders the backup complete searchable using standard Windows methods. I can't begin to tell you how much time I've wasted restoring True Image backups simply so I could search them for a vital file a customer had to have right away.
The Linux-based, bootable CD (or floppies if you wish) that R-Drive Image creates hearkens back to the 80's and early 90's with a character-based interface. It looks quaint, but it has the latest drivers for USB and SATA, as well as mouse support. Also, because it doesn't have to deal with graphics drivers or a bitmapped GUI, R-Drive image boots very quickly.
Networking support is this program's weak point. Using the boot disc to back up over the network involves configuring your Ethernet adapter, entering server IP addresses as well as the share name of the location you're imaging to, plus any applicable passwords. There's no network browsing, even after configuring the adapter so you must have this info on hand. Also, the help file is curiously lacking, well... help on the topic. Hence, if you don't understand what I just wrote, don't buy this program for imaging across a network.
R-Drive Image has gained entry to my IT toolbox, alongside the Active@ Boot DisK and True Image. Since both R-Drive Image's Windows and boot disc components are very fast and have been rock solid in my testing, it might just wind up my favorite. The stone-age networking on the boot disc doesn't bother me and to be honest, I get a kick out of people's puzzled looks when they see the retro interface.