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EMC Retrospect Express HD - Simple and Effective but Lacks Bells and Whistles

written by: •edited by: Bill Fulks•updated: 8/25/2009
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EMC Retrospect Express HD is a simplified backup-and-restore package launched by EMC after the success of Retrospect Professional. However, while Retrospect Express delivers simplicity in this basic point-and-click program, it lacks advanced configurability.

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    Introduction

    EMC Retrospect Express HD is a simple yet intuitive standalone program that makes backup and recovery an almost autonomous process. For novice and intermediate users, Retrospect Express HD provides all of the functionality needed for backup and retrieval of data, with a slick interface that delivers a basic set of EMC backup tools. The Retrospect Express solution is not cheap for such a basic backup and recovery application, but it certainly is effective.

    For this review I have evaluated EMC Retrospect Express HD on four different platforms of varying speeds and capacity: two desktop PCs (a 1.1 GHz AMD Athlon with 256 MB of RAM and a 2.26 GHz Intel P4 with 1 GB of RAM) and two laptop PCs (a 1.5 GHz Intel Celeron with 512 MB of RAM and a 2.0 GHz Dell Inspiron with 2 GB of RAM).

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    Installation & Setup

    Rating Average
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    User Interface

    Rating Average
    • The GUI is vibrant and concise with no "techno-jargon" to mislead or confuse users.
    • The user interface is both simple and effective at creating schedules for backup and recovery and for performing backup and copy tasks immediately. [See image 4]
    • The system warnings and errors are concise and simple to understand, meaning quicker resolution of issues. [See image 12]
    • Retrospect Express does not deliver advanced features or settings, specifically for disaster recovery, development requirements, or DLL version control.
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    Product Features

    Rating Average
    • Setup and scheduled maintenance allows users to create backup (restore points) or copy contents to a specified location. [See image 5]
    • The user can select individual or multiple locations to back up and copy from and to; i.e., internal or external drives, directories, folders, or files. [See image 6]
    • It's possible to interrogate and back up from and to any connected networks. [See image 7]
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    Performance

    Rating Average
    • Excellent resource management, removes outdated backups and copies to free up disk space.
    • Excellent speed and reliability when backing up large drives (1 TB/500 GB). Backup restore points were all accessible and clean, and all copied data in correct format. [See image 13]
    • Creates one full backup then expertly catalogues incremental sets of data with each subsequent backup, thus saving disk space and time.
    • Works equally well with Vista and XP.
    • In disaster recovery testing, EMC Retropsect Express HD needed to be reinstalled just to browse the compressed backup.
    • Completely overwhelmed the CPU of the Fujitsu Siemens Celeron-driven laptop when interrogating what devices and file structures were available for backup. [See image 8]
    • The application was system intensive on both this laptop and on the P4-driven desktop when loaded in the System Tray, even in an idle state.
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    Price to Value

    Rating AverageRetrospect Express delivers excellent backup and copy features, but at $40, this is an expensive piece of software for such a basic utility. There are cheaper products in this category on the market, some of which also deliver better depth and more advanced features.
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    Security & Privacy

    Rating Average
    • The software provides clear instruction in the event of failure to perform actions. [See image 9]
    • Excellent integration with firewall software; I tested it with ZoneAlarm, Nod32, and Norton. [See image 10]
    • Locks down access to password-protected network drives. [See image 11]
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    Help & Support

    Rating Average
    • The user documentation is very basic, but it is of an appropriate depth and level of technicality for such an entry-level backup and restore application.
    • Product documentation and online support lacks technical troubleshooting references.
    • Technical help calls and issues cost $69 for one-off incidents, or an annual subscription is available for a fee. Both are expensive for a program that only costs $40.
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    Images

    EMC Installation WizardEMC WelcomeEMC Backup or CopyEMC SchedulingEMC Backup optionsEMC Drive optionsEMC Network accessEMC cpu issueEMC disk fullEMC firewall accessEMC warningEMC restore points
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    Suggested Features

    Even though EMC's Express edition is not meant for advanced users, I’d like to see the following features included in the program, as they would enrich Retrospect Express HD and be understandable to a novice:
    • More depth to the onscreen options and user documentation.
    • Advanced settings for expert user mode; e.g., auditing and version control.
    • Slicker handling of disaster recovery and setup of ad hoc backup and copy tasks.
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    Conclusion

    While EMC Retrospect Express HD is simple in design and quick and easy to set up and operate, the overriding conclusion is that this product costs a lot of money for what was previously bundled (free) on the Maxtor OneTouch HD. Certainly it maintains the professional look and feel of its multifaceted big brother (EMC Retrospect Professional) and it is robust, reliable, and accurate in creating restore points, backing up files, and copying any format of data. But $40 for a basic utility program is too much, compared to what you can do on Windows Explorer, or with numerous freeware products, with a little knowledge and time management.
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    Related Products

    Norton Save & Restore, Memeo AutoBackup, Symantic Backup Exec, Veritas Backup, Drive Backup!, StuffIt Deluxe, StompSoft PC Back Up