Backup software is widely sold as providing protection against Windows operating system failure or hardware failure. Recent research by IntroAnalytic found serious problems with some of the largest of the backup software packages.
Furthermore, many of the major vendor's built-in image integrity checking programs, which supposedly guarantee the backup image is recoverable, did not correctly forecast the image's ability to recover the operating system.
According to IntroAnalytic Author and Instructional Designer Shaun Snapp, there are several reasons for this:
"Companies making backup software are clearly emphasizing the user interface at the expense of actual recoverability. Several of the systems that failed ran in Windows during the recovery. Users generally prefer Windows over DOS, and vendors have responded by making their backup software work in Windows. However, from a design perspective, it makes more sense to recover from DOS. This is because during serious Windows errors, the Windows environment is not operational. This is why DOS based backup solutions will always be more usable and reliable."
"Users find themselves in a chicken or egg situation with regards to backup media and backup software. Windows cannot be used to reliably recover itself. However, DOS does not recognize external USB or Firewire connected drives. This is where backup images would logically be stored. The solution we found is to keep the backup image on the same disk as the operating system (allowing DOS to read the image) but keeping an extra copy of the backup image on an external disk in the event of a failure of the main disk. For those consumers and small businesses that want real operating system protection, it means testing a recovery to make sure it works. However, this is quite difficult using a computer with one disk. It would mean overwriting the operating system to find out. This is why we recommend purchasing, or building computers that have at least two internal hard disks. This is quite typical in the barebones market, and second hard drives are becoming more common as an option at major manufacturers."
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