Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 142 / JULY 1992 / PAGE 102

JUMBO Tape Backup System. (Evaluation)
by Rick Leinecker

When it comes to backing up information on floppies, my philosophy isn't exactly mainstream. I've found myself in a defensive-position when discussing the subject. You see, I hate backing up my hard drives because I already have hundreds of floppies in storage. Adding 50 more would compound my organizational difficulties. I only back up the few directories in which my current work is found.

This system works, even when I trash one of my work files--until the dreaded hard drive crash, that is. (And recently I've had more than my share, since I just wrote a disk utility that includes an optimizer.) At these catastrophic junctures, I realize everyone else was right: I should've backed up the entire drive. Rectifying things takes me hours--and reminds me how much I hate application-installation programs. Until recently, I continued my insane approach to data backups.

Enter the hero, Colorado Memory Systems' JUMBO Tape Backup System 120. Since it's been installed, I haven't had a single disaster that took more than 15 minutes to fix. And I haven't lost any data--just the small amount of time it took to restore things from tape.

How easy is it? Extremely. Once it's installed, the software is on your hard drive. For extra safety I copied the software to floppy in case the absolute worst happened. It never has, but it would've been easy enough to run the restore software from floppy.

To start the software, you just type TAPE. Just about everything you do is with function key-controlled menus. They're plain and simple in appearance but perfectly functional. When you're restoring your life's work, you don't really care what the menus look like.

The backup options cover all bases. You can back up an entire drive, an entire directory, selected directories, and selected files in directories. What's great is the unattended backup feature. If you enable this, your computer will automatically back itself up at the designated time. It's smart enough to know when the computer is in use and beeps at you if it's time to do the backup and you're in the way. I set mine for Saturday morning at 4:00, and it provided safety while I slept.

Restoring is just as easy as backing up. You can select which files and directories you want or restore the entire drive. The JUMBO system isn't lightning fast, though. An entire 65MB hard drive takes about 25 minutes to back up and about the same amount of time to restore.

Although complete instructions for installation are included, I wouldn't recommend doing it yourself unless you're totally at home inside your PC. I installed the JUMBO system in two different computers and experienced the same difficulties both times. The mounting hardware wasn't what my two systems expected. That meant I had to scrounge around among spare pieces to find what I needed. And the instructions for connecting the cables, while complete, didn't go the extra mile for beginners. I had no trouble installing the hardware, but it's easy to see that some people would. Don't let that discourage you from buying the device; just plan on getting a professional to install it.

If you hate backing up your hard drive, get one of these babies. It'll save you time, trouble, floppy disks, and hassles when your co-workers debate the merits of backing up your entire drive. I've seen the system advertised in the $200 range. Not bad, considering what it'll save you in the long run.