Disaster Recovery Test and

By Nick Stam  |  Posted 2002-11-06 Print this article Print

Summary"> What good would a backup solution be if it didnt live up to its claims? The CMS ABSplus claims to be able to directly replace your existing notebook drive in the event it dies. We took the PC Card-attached drive out of the enclosure and installed it in our ThinkPad T20. Note that CMS provides PDF-based drive installation and removal instructions on the provided software CD for numerous popular notebooks – a great touch, as long as you have a computer handy to look at them. In our tests, the drive booted, data was accessible, and many applications were usable, including wired and wireless networking and Internet Explorer. However, in attempts to use Microsoft Office XP applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook, we got the warning below that new hardware was discovered and the software would require reactivation. Can you imagine getting this problem when on the road and you have no access to your Office XP Professional CD? Thanks Microsoft.
We spoke with CMS, and they said its a known issue, and but doesnt happen very often. Unfortunately, CMS documentation doesnt mention this situation either. We noticed an Office XP Activation Update was included in Office XP Service Pack 1 that supposedly assists with avoiding reactivation processes when certain hardware is switched. Heck, were used to Windows XP, where weve tested up to six hardware changes before reactivation was required. We ran the updates and voila, we didnt receive the reactivation message.
But we had another major problem. The ABSplus backup drive did not have a recent replicated copy of our offline Outlook mail file (with the .OST extension). When entering Outlook we were asked both for our mail password and personal folders password, which was a bad signal. Then when trying to enter Online Mode, we received the following message in the middle of the screen: We tried Offline mode and could see our Inbox entries, but we received an error when trying to synchronize with the server. Thanks again, Microsoft. It wouldnt be pleasant to replicate about 200MB worth of email when on the road. We thought maybe we could disable our Offline File, and then access mail in Online mode. Searching on OST in Outlook Help came up with the answer. We did disable the Offline file (with the expectation that it could be re-enabled per the help file), and we were able to shutdown and restart Outlook, then access mail on Online mode. However, we tried to re-enable the Offline file, and as far as we could tell, the menu selections to do so did not exist, as instructed in the help file. We had no more patience to pursue. Thanks again MS. Other than the two Microsoft-related problems above, the six months spent living with the CMS ABSplus has been a pleasure. Its been highly reliable, simple to use, and its provided much needed disaster insurance for all our important notebook data. CMS will be improving their documentation to ease any nervousness of first time users, while also providing more usage tips and tricks. You should note that the CMS backup software does not use disk compression, unlike typical tape backup solutions, so you should get a capacity point that matches or exceeds your notebook drive size if you want a full mirror image.

Nick Stam Co-Founder, ExtremeTech
Ex-Director, PC Magazine Labs

Nick is a founder of the ExtremeTech website. He worked with co-founder Bill Machrone designing the site, staffing up, and getting initial content developed for ET's formal launch on June 12, 2001. Nick was Senior Technical Director of ET until mid-2003, while concurrently performing duties in PC Magazine Labs.

Nick was a technical director in PC Labs from late 1991 through mid-2002, and was Lab Director from mid-2002 until March 2005. Prior to PC Magazine, Nick was in the computer industry in various development, systems engineering, and management roles since mid-1980, and he received an MS in Computer Science from SUNY Binghamton.

In March 2005, Nick decided it was time to leave Ziff Davis Media (parent of PC Magazine and ExtremeTech) to pursue other opportunities, but wishes all the best to the ET and PC Magazine staff and reader communities!

Nick can be contacted at nickstam@comcast.net


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