StorageCraft ShadowProtect Server 4 review

Price when reviewed

Hard disk imaging is proving to be a popular means of data backup, and the latest ShadowProtect 4 from StorageCraft aims to offer a number of new features with fast system restoration and business continuity as key priorities.

On review is ShadowProtect Server 4, which offers the same imaging features as the Desktop version. At its foundation, ShadowProtect allows you to create full, differential and incremental point-in-time backups of selected volumes and schedule these to run as often as every 15 minutes.

In StorageCraft’s world, you load the full Server product on one system and deploy agents to other servers and desktops you want to protect. The management console provides quick access to the various functions in the left pane, with views alongside of managed systems and job activity.

Once agents have been deployed, the new systems appear in the main console ready for connection. A backup wizard makes light work of job creation, where you select any volumes on managed systems and create images on a local storage device or any network location such as a shared folder or NAS appliance.

Full and incremental backups can be scheduled regularly, image compression applied and encryption as well. We found the backup process swift: securing a 20GB system volume on a Server 2008 R2 system to a shared folder over a Gigabit network took 3mins 10secs. Similarly, a 10GB Server 2003 R2 system volume was secured to the same network location in only 2mins 30secs.

StorageCraft ShadowProtect Server 4

Restoring lost files and folders is a cinch. From the management console you can select any local or remote image, right-click and mount it with a drive letter for swift drag and drop copies. Bare-metal recovery is just as easy: you load the recipient with the ShadowProtect boot disk that takes you into a Windows recovery environment.

We tested this in our review of the IDSbox Mini and found it worked smoothly. The recovery environment loaded all required network drivers, so we could browse for and map an image on the appliance and restore the system drive in minutes.

Support for Oracle’s VirtualBox utility allows you to right-click a backup image and load it quickly as a virtual machine. We couldn’t use the latest version 3.2 since ShadowProtect didn’t support it properly and the instructions we were given for applying the patch were riddled with errors.

We tested with VirtualBox 3.1.6 and this worked fine. With this installed on the same system as ShadowProtect Server, we could select an image file taken from one of our test servers and load it immediately as a virtual machine.

The standard ImageManager tool is included in the main product and allows you to verify images, consolidate incrementals with the last full backup, or change compression and encryption settings. Images can also be saved off to use in Hyper-V or VMware environments, but ignore the option to save directly into an ESX Server datastore. This option is shown clearly in the manual, but was never implemented in version 4 due to problems.

At its foundation, ShadowProtect Server 4 offers an impressive range of disk imaging and data recovery features. Our main criticisms centre on the sloppy documentation and the fact that some of the new features are far from perfect.


Software subcategory Backup software

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