RestoreIT Professional 7

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, June 2006
Published by: FarStone Technology Inc.
Requires: Pentium (or equivalent) or higher processor, 256MB RAM, 400MB free hard drive space, Windows 2000 and XP 32-bit operating systems; software supports RAID 0 and 1
MSRP: US$59.99

RestoreIT Pro 7 is a utility which automatically backs up all files on a Windows PC specifically for the purpose of allowing you to restore the system or recover individual files in the event of damage caused by a virus, hack attack, faulty program installation, registry problem, a destructive operating system crash, or a DUE*. RestoreIT Pro is a core system utility which means that when you boot your computer, RestoreIt loads before Windows and most of the related drivers, background programs and services.

Some of you may be saying to yourselves, "Why do I need this? I've already got Windows Restore Points built into XP. I also own a copy of Lifeboat. Is RestoreIT Pro really necessary?" The short answer is, yes. The long answer depends entirely on how well Windows Restore Points have served you in the past, the fundamental stability of the PCs you use, and whether or not you frequently do things which have the potential to compromise your PCs. If the answer to any of the foregoing is yes, RestoreIT Pro is something you may want to consider.

For the record, I don't trust Windows Restore Points. Maybe it's because I frequently see software that tends to battle with Windows and corrupt it on a regular basis. That sort of software doesn't see the light of day on Kickstartnews because we just don't publish reviews of products which we can't recommend. In those situations, Windows has let me down on more than one occasion because of corrupt restore points which prevented me from easily restoring a messed up system to a previously stable state.


While reviewing RestoreIT Pro I was accosted by a friend and associate who took me to task over this category of software. His concern was that too many people gradually accumulate a raftload of system backup, repair and restore utilities without ever actually developing a consistent, habitual process for regularly protecting their home and business PCs. Of course he was/is right. So your first concern about RestoreIT Pro and all of the other utilities on the market right now is that you have to pick an appropriate selection and stick with them, consistently scheduling backups, the creation of restore points, and regularly updating your emergency boot CDs or DVDs. If you don't have a PC usage plan which includes (at least) weekly backups, daily restore points and monthly boot CD/DVD updates, you're cruisin' for a bruisin'. Windows will fail (though admittedly far less often than during those scary days of Windows 95 and Windows Me), hard drives will fail, registries will become corrupt, a software installation will render your PC unbootable, and a virus will devastate your system. If it hasn't happened yet, it will. This is the law of Windows, Mac and Linux computing. Years ago it was the law of DOS and Atari and Amiga computing. All that has happened is that the years have gone by and the old operating systems and hardware have disappeared. The problems remain. Smart PC users hope for the best, but plan for the worst. Make a PC backup and safety plan, purchase the software and hardware needed to implement the plan, and stick with it.

Installing RestoreIT Pro is multistep process. Make it go smoothly by first defragmenting your hard drive. If you don't, the RestoreIT installer may complain. On one of the five PCs on which we tried the software, the installer simply wouldn't work ostensibly because Windows was not installed in the usual "C:" drive location, an admittedly rare situation. Once we manually altered the installation path for RestoreIT, everything went smoothly. We first looked at RestoreIT 7 during December 2005/2006 and we're delighted to find that the program installer has been greatly improved.

RestoreIT Pro creates its own, secure, so-called real mode partition on your hard drive. This hidden partition is where the boot, restore and backup data is stored for the program's Real Mode interface which will appear every time you boot or reboot your computer. After the first part of the installation, the system shuts down Windows, automatically runs Windows CheckDisk, then reboots to complete the installation. The procedure is complicated for the installer software, but requires very little input from you unless you choose to do a custom installation.

Using RestoreIT Pro after installation is simple and efficient. Launch the program from the desktop and set up automatic creation of restore points, update emergency and restore CDs and DVDs, restore individual files or the entire system and access all of the configuration controls for the software. If you find yourself with an unstable system that's still up and running, and you've determined that you need to roll back the system to a previously stable date, all you have to do is launch RestoreIT Pro and choose one of the restore points. On the other hand, if your system is unbootable or only partially bootable, restart it and then use the Real Mode interface to access the same list of restore points. If Windows won't boot at all, use the RestoreIT Pro rescue disks to boot the computer and fix the problem.

Our favorite RestoreIT Pro 7 feature is the automatic system restore function. Just as you can use the built-in scheduler to set up the creation of regular restore points, you can also set up a schedule to automatically restore the system. For busy small offices which run software from and store data on servers, you can completely defeat all of the secretly installed poker software, dumb games, porn sites, malware and spyware on the local hard drive by scheduling the system to be fully restored to a clean state every morning for example. It's not going to prevent some people from doing things they shouldn't with your computers, but it's an easy and efficient way to ensure greater stability and productivity. The best way to change bad habits is to overawe them with good habits.

Cons: Unlike Recovery Manager, RestoreIt Pro does not add a snap-in to the Windows XP management console (MMC), so keep in mind that RestoreIT Pro really is a personal and SOHO/small office product rather than a business IS/IT product. The default timeout for the RestoreIT Pro boot time utility is really short (5 or 10 seconds). That's not enough time, initially, for some people to hit the spacebar in order to access the RestoreIt configuration options to change the timeout.

Pros: RestoreIT Professional 7 is reliable and works as advertised. The user interface is fresh, clean, and easy to use. Features, functions and actions are clearly explained within the user interface. The software operates efficiently and more important, seems to be a more reliable solution than Windows Restore Points built into Windows XP. I tried the software on a variety of computers using a variety of CD and DVD drives and did not have any problems creating emergency and system restore discs. The automatic system restore feature is a great idea that can be used by offices, people with busy home PCs used by more than one family member, and even software and hardware product testing environments which usually require an identical and clean state on all PCs at the beginning of each product testing cycle. RestoreIT Pro 7 is a great choice for individuals, SOHOs and small businesses that are putting together a reliable and secure PC backup, security and data protection plan. Recommended.

(*DUE = Dumb User Error)

KSN Product Rating:





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