PowerQuest – Drive Image Pro 3.01 review

fast disk duplication over a network
Photo of PowerQuest – Drive Image Pro 3.01
£150 + VAT for 10 CD pack, £210 + VAT for 25 CD pack, £370 + VAT for 50 CD pack

The very first piece of software we ever reviewed on this site was Drive Image 2.0 (read our review here for a gentle twinge of nostalgia), but the Pro version is a different kettle of fish altogether. Aimed at systems administrators and network gurus, it’s a powerful piece of kit that allows several workstations to be updated with the same operating system and software simultaneously. ‘Several’, in this case, means a maximum of 999.

At the core of the program is a utility that can store an entire hard drive partition in a single file. Just about any operating system is supported, with SmartSector copying (copying the file layout exactly, rather than just copying the files) on offer for Linux, FAT, FAT32, NTFS and HPFS partitions. Partition images can be stored on hard drives or removable media such as Iomega Jaz disks or even CD-R/RWs. Partitions can be resized during the restore process to fit drives with more or less space available than the source drive.

So the potential here is pretty immense. An IT bod can create a generic Windows 2000 partition, complete with applications and any other tweaks, on a single PC. Then, using boot disks and the DOS-based Drive Image Pro software on the client machines, a single network broadcast of the partition can be made to all other machines simultaneously. Obviously, this is only practical for identical systems, otherwise driver errors and other conflicts will occur, but in medium to large companies where bulk buying of identical systems is commonplace, this could be a Godsend.

Additionally, if tweaks are to be made – such as the installation of new applications – at a later date, a feature called DeltaDeploy can be used. This checks for file, registry and other changes on the host machine, then bundles up those new files and changes into a single executable file, which can then easily be run on the client machines. Single files or directories can be extracted from image files, too.

Also included in the box is a copy of PartitionMagic Pro 5.0, for creating, resizing, deleting, converting and otherwise editing hard drive partitions, plus a boot disk creation tool to make the network imaging (called ‘PowerCasting’) easier. DriveMapper and MagicMover, which re-assign drive letters and move applications en masse, are also included in the box. The ’1′ after the ’3.0′ in the version name denotes a little tweak to the program – available as a download from the Web site – that allows the SmartSector technique to be used with Linux Ext2 and Swap partitions – PowerQuest recognises a growing market when it sees one.

Company: PowerQuest

Contact: 0118 975 5955

This is a timely product, given the recent launch of Windows 2000. It does its job very well, and will save IT staff time and effort, especially as its PowerCast feature updates systems simultaneously, rather than sequentially. Considering what it does, it will pay for itself in most medium to large organisations overnight.