Recently I received this release:-

Research shows Backup Software to be Unreliable

Palo Alto: Feb 22nd 2006 - Backup software is widely sold as providing protection against Windows operating system failure or hardware failure. Recent research by IntroAnalytic found serious problems with some of the largest of the backup software packages. ...

I read it avidly. Great news (for a hack!). Veritas, Legato, Dantz, CA, Tivoli etc. backup products were unreliable. Amazing. Well, it would have been if they were. But they weren't. In fact, they weren't even mentioned.

Ther report was about DriveImage, Norton Ghost, Microsoft System Restore and Acronis True Image.

I asked IntroAnalytic why it had used a misleading release headline. The reply is instructive:-

What IntroAnalytic said
We see it as what the typical person selects for their backup software.

You are correct; we did not test every PC backup software package in the market. However, what are the backup software packages that most people use? You will find a very high combined market share for the software that we tested, much higher than for the software that you mention. Thus for the majority of PC users their backup software is in real terms unreliable.

1. We are pointing out that it is actually software companies who are confusing people with their marketing material, which gives the impression that software backup is simple and easy to do. This is what we call "the single software solution." However, our research shows that not only are there considerable problems with the technical ability of the some of most popular packages, but the actual practical ability of a typical user to recover an operating system is at issue. This is related to the software's inherent usability vs. its theoretical potential.

2. Beyond specific packages, we point out a general trend towards less reliability in this type of software. That is they are moving towards recovery in Windows. This is inherently flawed because when you need to recover the most, Windows is not operational. This demonstrates a focus on marketing (consumers like Windows over DOS apps) over recoverability (having the recovery performed with DOS diskettes directing the computer to a recovery image).

3. If you look at the results you will find one package that recovered with high reliability. However, it is a no longer sold. Imagine that, the most reliable software package of those we tested and its must be purchased second hand or in the OEM marketplace.

4. The entire methodology of the research is available on-line in an easily downloadable form. Anyone with the interest can find what software was tested, how often it was tested, the hardware it was tested upon and any other relevant details.

5. The title of the media release could have been “Norton Ghost 9.0, Acronis True Image, etc….Shown to be Unreliable.” However, I think that would have been considered inflammatory to Symantec and others. We have to walk the editorial line here between giving consumers information and singling firms out in our media release titles.

The Backup reliability report
It is a good reply and points up the difference between PC backup needs and products and the server ones. To read the IntroAnalytic backup reliability report then click here.