Being a longtime user of Paragon software, it’s kind of hard to do this, but anyone who thinks about getting a Paragon backup product should think twice. And here’s why. There are two main facets to data security: keeping the data backed up for the case of hardware failure or other disasters and keeping the data safe from the prying eyes of others.
Backup products, commercial or not, cater for the first. Or at least they should. For the latter there are several options, but by far the most popular is TrueCrypt. Time for a little “detour”.
TrueCrypt allows to encrypt whole partitions/disks or store files encrypted in containers which themselves take the form of files. Either way, TrueCrypt volumes are mounted transparently for the user and virtually all programs on the system. Mind you, we’re talking about a mounted volume here. There is no magic involved1.
And that’s where Paragon Hard Disk Manager 12 (HDM12, and related backup products) fail miserably. Their marketing department claims that one can backup any files. So I tried to back up files from within my mounted volumes. Alas, HDM12 doesn’t even list the mounted volumes for backup. Having a little insight from both the kernel and user mode developer perspective, I decided to contact their support and explained the problem in great length and detail. The result was that the use case with a mounted TrueCrypt volume is a very specific case that they won’t support in the future either. Shame, I’ve been a customer for over a decade. Now I’ll think thrice before purchasing anything again from them. Moreover I’ll thoroughly test their products for similar subtle defects before I purchase or upgrade anything more from them. It’s not about the defect itself – we all create bugs, to err is human – it’s about the unwillingness to take action when confronted with a defect.
Is accessing a transparently mounted volume of any kind, be it TrueCrypt or PGP Disk or whatever, such an arcane or special use case? Being a Windows kernel and user mode developer I can tell you it’s not. And certainly there is no good technical reason to not support the use case at hand. Alas, they’re unwilling to fix an obvious defect, therefore I revoke my previous recommendations of the products (and will subsequently do so with all the people I recommended their products to by word of mouth or otherwise). Consider this an advance notice.
- unlike with many a camera, where a shell namespace extension takes care of showing the files under “My Computer” whereas they are not mounted transparently as a volume anywhere. In such case if you open the photo file in a viewer by double-clicking, what actually happens is that the shell extension will copy the file over into a temporary location and then pass that to the viewer. Of course the alternative that it doesn’t work at all also exists. Implementations vary. [↩]