DataSentinel -- a backup service with issues

DataSentinel -- a backup service with issues

It's not a service with an interface I quickly understood

How dataSentinel displays deleted files

How dataSentinel displays deleted files

To restore a file to your hard drive, you're supposed to double-click the file to open it in the associated application, then save the file to your hard drive. That's a simple procedure, but it's limited to data files that are associated with a program. For other files (configuration files or drivers, for example), there's no documented procedure, though I found that selecting the files, copying them and pasting them to my hard drive worked. Unfortunately, there's no drag-and-drop support to easily restore files -- a major drawback.

One feature I particularly like is the ability to plug the DataSentinel thumb drive into any PC and back up files for that system. With this feature you can backup a file from one computer and restore it to another.

Quirks and caveats

While day-to-day backup performance of files in selected folders worked well, it's not a program with an interface I quickly understood. Clicking on an icon on an elephant to select files wasn't immediately intuitive, for example, and the "Synchronization" screen that tells you how far along DataSentinel has progressed often closed before it had calculated the percent complete, and there was no way to "pause" the application so the window didn't close. Furthermore, even after de-selecting all files and subfolders in a folder (so nothing from the folder would be copied to the DataSentinel server), the program insisted on marking the folder as one containing files to be backed up -- which was simply wrong. It took several hours until I felt comfortable with how the program worked, but then I kept running into problems. The main window was sometimes slow to respond to mouse clicks or file selections. The program froze more than once and on more than one test machine, adding to my frustration.

When you open a file on the server directly (by double-clicking on it) and save it from an application, DataSentinel automatically assigns a version number to the file and keeps 10 versions of the file; you can't turn versioning off nor set the number of versions you want to keep, so directly editing large files can quickly grow your storage allotment. No versioning is provided for files automatically backed up from your hard drive.

The program had some other, albeit minor, quirks. For example, to end the program completely you must pull out the thumb drive -- there's no "File/Exit" command.

Perhaps future users will have an easier time once the company's promised documentation is complete, its performance improves and backup of large files can be relied on. Until then, I cannot recommend this hardware/software/service combo.

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