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3) Data Restore
Clicking on All Files pops up this dialogue box:
Before I did the All Files data restore, I deleted some files and folders in My Documents. The data restoration process occurs in Windows, and with under a gigabyte of data, it completed very quickly. A check showed that all the files were restored without any problems.
Next, I tried clicking on Selective Files Data Restore, which opened up a big dialog window, of which only the central part is shown below.
It is essentially identical to the Select Data Backup window, with the selectable files being determined by the QRestoreExt.ini file. All those .bat. .bin, .sys, and .ini files in the C: root directory are listed (and selectable) because I removed all the excluded file types in the QRestoreExt.ini file (so that all file types would be included in the backup). Each folder with a + icon can be expanded to show their contents, which are individually selectable.
This time, I selected various files to delete in a number of different folders, then selected the affected folders to be restored. Again, the process took place in Windows very quickly and without any fuss.
I discovered one oddity that could throw users off when recovering data. Once you have made a data backup, subsequent backups replace older files with newer ones of the same name and add new files created since the previous backup. However, files that you deleted since the last backup are not removed in the newest backup. Unlike the OS backup procedure, only one data backup is saved.
For example, if your first All Files backup consisted of 100 files, if you subsequently delete one file from your original data so that it gets reduced to 99 files, when you do the next backup, the procedure will rewrite 99 files -- and leave the one old file untouched. This means also that moving or renaming files and folders can result in multiple copies of the same files and folders in the Xtreme Files backup folder. This could turn into a headache, although not a serious one because at least no data is being lost.
There are some simple workarounds:
1) Assuming you do data backups regularly, just go into the Backup folder in the Xtreme Files Drive, drill down to the relevant folders, and view the files by date. Files that have been deleted in your main storage disks will not have been touched at all in the Backup folder and their date will identify them quickly. Do a comparison of folders in your main storage disks to be sure, then delete those files / folders from the Xtreme Files Drive Backup folder.
2) Since it's only when you need to restore data that this may become a problem, just make sure you always use the Selective Files data restore function and restore only the files you need. As long as there is adequate storage space in the Xtreme Files Drive, this method will probably work fine as well.
Coolmax set a tough goal in seeking a one-touch complete backup solution. Storage backup solutions have always been complex, and with few exceptions, for desktop applications, it has usually been a DIY combination of software from one vendor and hardware from another.
Coolmax did a good job in combining hardware and software for a one-button OS Backup solution for Windows. The Xtreme Files Drive works quite well in this applications as long as basic conditions are met. There may be competitive solutions from other brands, but this is the only one I know of, and I have to admit that it works much better than I expected it to.
As a one-touch data backup / restore solution, the Xtreme Files Drive has a few wrinkles to iron out, but it still works fairly well as long as you understand its limitations. Ironically, intelligent use of the device in this application requires much more than a single button push. The power user is much more likely to get good use from it than the casual data-anxious neophyte.
The manual can certainly be improved. Not only should more information be provided in greater precision, but it also be expressed in weighted, relevant ways for the user to understand the true functionality of the product. The function I described as Emergency OS Restore, for example, was all but buried, and it required a very close reading of the manual to understand its function, which turns out to be quite impressive, and perhaps unique.
Happily the noise of the drive used is moderate with a benign sonic signature, so the Xtreme Files Drive does not impose too harsh a price for quiet-loving users. The handy power switch makes it easy to silence when not needed as well.
For a sophisticated PC user, a separate software + hardware combination is probably going to be more flexible, reliable and useful. But it's certainly an interesting product that is useful for the intended market of casual PC users seeking a simple but functional backup system. The Coolmax Xtreme Files Drive is a pretty good product that is bound to improve with future upgrades.
* Handy all-in-one backup solution
* OS Backup / Restore works well for Windows XP
* Data Backups are useful
* Power switch is nice
* Not too noisy
* USB 2.0 connection
* Comes complete
* Data Backups need more refinement
* Scheduling of backups missing
* Customizable backup functions would be nice
* No way to use on more than one system
* No software switches to initiate operations
* Poor manual
* No soft rubber feet (or feet of any kind!)
Our thanks to Coolmax
for the opportunity to review the Extreme Files F1-B Drive.
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