R-Drive Image is a lightweight, but feature-rich, drive imaging program with very reliable performance and an improved boot disc.
The more R-Drive Image changes, the more it stays the same. Now up to version 5.1, it’s still very much the reliable drive imaging workhorse that it was as of our last review of version 4.7. Just better.
New for version R-Drive Image 5.1 are support for Windows 8, a nicer boot disc GUI to accompany the retro text-based interface, and a new imaging engine. The latter gave me pause, as I have a lot of older R-Drive Image backups. Happily, unlike some companies, R-Drive Image 5.1 supports restoring and reading its older formats. Also new is support for the ReFS (Resilient File System) used in Microsoft Server 2012.
The existing feature list includes a lot of useful tools: full, incremental, and differential image backups; compression; disk cloning; encryption; support for Windows Dynamic Disks (a bugaboo with some imaging programs) and BSD slices (Linux partitions); split files; optical media support; and even file system conversion.
R-Drive Image is lean and mean, and in all my time using, I’ve had exactly one problem (and that was on a disk that was dying, so it wasn’t really the programs fault). The program is fast, and I particularly like the way it mounts a backup image. You use the program to attach the image as a read-only virtual drive with its own drive letter, eliminating the always-on background service that most programs employ, and making it easier to find and recover specific files from the backup.
The program can create a bootable CD or USB flash drive that can help recover a system that won’t boot from the hard drive. The Linux-based, bootable CD or USB flash drive that R-Drive Image creates now features a GUI (the programmers call it a “pseudo-graphic mode”, 256MB required) that mimics the Windows version of the program. You can still use the 80’s and early 90’s-rememiscent, character-based interface if you wish, or if the system you’re using is short on memory (it can run in as little as 128MB in this mode). Both support a full-range of hardware and the same wide range of connection technologies as the Windows program.
My only gripe with the boot disc or drive is that you still can’t browse the network for a shared folder to back up to. You must know the IP address of the server and the shared folder name, in addition to the user name and password.
R-Drive Image is my main imaging program, and has been for a while. The inability to browse the network from the boot disc is small potatoes compared to the program’s versatility and reliability in my book. And I still get a kick out of people’s puzzled looks when they see the retro character-based interface.
Note: The Download button takes you to the vendor’s site, where you can download the latest version of the software.
Jon Jacobi is a musician, former x86/6800 programmer, and long-time computer enthusiast. He writes reviews on TVs, SSDs, dash cams, remote access software, Bluetooth speakers, and sundry other consumer-tech hardware and software.