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ShadowProtect ($80, 30-day free trial) is a physical or local network backup and system restore solution, and it's all included in the program: no monthly fee or service is required. It has a friendly user interface: Within a couple of clicks, you can set up a recurring backup or even an incremental one, and you don't have to close any running programs to do it. ShadowProtect runs in the background, and unlike, say, a virus scan, it doesn't slow the system down much or take up much CPU. ShadowProtect supports "bare metal" system recovery, meaning it can restore one backup to a completely different drive on a completely different PC, if necessary. Note that you must have backed up with ShadowProtect in order to use it for system recovery.
There are numerous options available, such as encrypting the backup, setting a schedule, and fine-tuning incremental backup. The latter requires a separate program called ImageManager, and it lets you manage the storage space that the backups use. ImageManager requires a separate install after ShadowProtect is installed. I tested a backup of an entire external USB hard drive and stored it on a much larger internal drive. The backup took just under two hours for 150 GB of data, and restoration took the same amount of time. The restored drive behaved just as it did before, with no glitches.
One nice extra feature that ShadowProtect has is support for virtual environments. In other words, if you've got VMWare virtual machine software set up on your machine and multiple operating systems running inside it, then ShadowProtect will restore onto any of those virtual machines easily. In fact, VMWare specifically includes support for ShadowProtect.
ShadowProtect comes with a backup CD that can be booted from in case of a system failure. The physical version of ShadowProtect comes with the CD itself, while the digital download includes a large .ISO file that must be burned to a CD. You can't choose between the two until you've completed your order; keep in mind that the physical version has a shipping cost as well.
Eighty bucks is reasonable for an unlimited single-user license, even though upgrades are extra. Compare ShadowProtect with its main competitor. Norton Save and Restore costs $60 with its own backup CD ($50 without), and upgrades cost $40 with no maintenance option. Also, Norton doesn't support virtual environments.
The world of backups seems to be moving toward online backups, which backup your system to a remote server location through the Internet. For those that still need a physical or local network backup solution, though, ShadowProtect is a good choice.
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