New PC utilities want to save your data

by Alan Zisman (c) 1999. First published in Toronto Computes, May 1999

PowerQuest Lost and Found, US$70 (approx $105 CDN)
PowerQuest DataKeeper, US$50 (approx $75 CDN)

Here are two more utilities from PowerQuest, the PC utility company known for innovative products like Partition Magic and DriveCopy:

Lost & Found is designed to quickly recover lost data on your computer. I suppose you could use it if you just forgot the name or folder where you saved a file?but Windows users already have the Start Menu?s Find option for that.

But if you?ve deleted the file and emptied the Recycle Bin (oops!), suffered from virus infection, had a hard drive crash, or even reformatted your hard drive, Lost & Found may still be able to recover your critical data.

While other programs, like Symantec?s Norton Utilities or anti-virus programs can help with some of these problems, Lost & Found doesn?t need to be running in the background all the time, sapping system resources. In fact, you don?t need to install it until you actually need it.

When run, it analyses your drive and reports on the chances of data recovery, and then, if you choose to proceed, saves your selected files to another location. It runs under DOS, though it can be used on Windows 9x or NT systems running FAT16 or FAT32 file systems (though it doesn?t support NT?s NTFS file system). As a result, it can work on systems that are too damaged to load Windows, as long as they can boot to a DOS floppy.

Note that it while Lost & Found can seemingly work miracles, if you?ve written over your data, it?s gone for good. But short of that, the program does the same work that previously might have required sending your drive away to a data recovery centre.

DataKeeper aims to take most of the pain out of data backups. Backing up is one of those ?trip to the dentist? things? we all know we should, but most of us put it off until it hurts?and then it?s often too late.

DataKeeper offers real-time backup?it runs in the background, and backs up data files as you work. It compresses files using standard pkZip format, so files can be restored using any zip-compatible utility.  When you simply zip a bunch of files to a floppy diskette, a single bad sector can ruin the zip-file, an especially aggravating problem if your zip-file scans multiple floppies. DataKeeper protects against this problem, retrieving all files except the one actually residing on the bad sector. It can backup to any device recognized with a drive letter?ruling out most tape drives, but allowing use of removable drives like Iomega Zip or Jaz drives or recordable CD-Rs.

Originally developed by HighPoint Technologies, the program is now up to version 3.0. While it doesn?t replace a full-fledged backup program, it is a great way to painlessly backup your critical data. It is available as a modest, 2 meg download from Powerquest?s web site.

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Alan Zisman is a Vancouver educator, writer, and computer specialist. He can be reached at E-mail Alan