n All-Encompassing Review of StorageCraft Software
Data backup and storage is one of the most important duties for any systems manager or independent operator.
When your entire business or organization runs on digital information – and most do these days – making sure all user data is safe and secure can be a frightening responsibility.
There’s plenty of software on the market of various sizes and needs, from the baby photo back-up to data storage for multinational corporations.
So how does StorageCraft stack up in a crowded marketplace?
What Exactly Is StorageCraft?
StorageCraft is a data backup and storage solution, but it isn’t like Google Drive or Dropbox, where certain files or folders are synced to an external backup.
Instead, StorageCraft specializes in making full-system images for devices, the kind that allows a full restore. We’re not talking about just important spreadsheets and Word documents.
A full-system image is a snapshot of a device, and it includes files, programs, and all the software architecture that makes up the computer.
It’s the ultimate form of backing up, not only because you’re less likely to lose or forget to sync something, but because it saves you from reinstalling all of your programs and drivers as well.
StorageCraft software facilitates every piece of this process, from backup to storage, protection, and recovery.
StorageCraft also sells servers both physical and virtual, alongside cloud services, disaster recovery, encryption software, and more. It’s truly a full-service company that can aid with any (and all) steps in the data backup and protection process.
A History Of StorageCraft
StorageCraft as it stands now is actually the combination of two different companies: StorageCraft, Inc, and ShadowStor. They merged in 2003 to create the “StorageCraft Technology Corporation.” The company headquarters are still in Draper, Utah.
StorageCraft originally began making storage tools and drivers in the 1990s. They slowly created their own software, both to rely less on outside vendors and to improve upon the current technology. They specialized (then, as now) in taking full snapshots of the drive (like images) and keeping them safe and protected should the worst happen.
ShadowProtect, the flagship product of the company, was created from whole cloth and released in 2005 and has been dominating its corner of the marketplace ever since.
StorageCraft is a large company with many products and services, so the features are dependent on what you need. We’ll break down the most popular options here, and talk about how well they work, what they do, and most of all what these products are capable of.
Converged Scale-Out Storage (OneXafe)
StorageCraft’s answer to converged scale-out storage is OneXafe, a data protection software that combines SLA-driven data protection, VirtualBoot, advanced verification, and inflight-verification to create a converged secondary.
OneXafe has a simplified licensing model that reduces costs. It also has encryption both in transfer and at rest, alongside an SLA-driven workflow.
As for data recovery, OneXafe has several features to ease the process. Retained metadata, cold-file access, smart retries, automated verification of images, and PKI encrypted channel communication all ensure a safe and healthy data recovery process, should the worst happen. It can even do instant recovery in milliseconds using intelligent read-ahead technology called VirtualBoot.
OneXafe has integrated DRaaS (disaster recovery as a service) as part of the product, and best of all it includes a portal that the user can access to initialize recovery. That means that they won’t have to call and wait for a technician at StorageCraft when disaster strikes – instead, you can just do it yourself, no matter the day or hour.
Data Protection Solutions
StorageCraft’s primary product, “ShadowProtect” is their first focus and one of the most versatile services they offer.
ShadowProtect boasts itself as the only cross-platform protection service and prides itself on working with any network environment, no matter how hybridized. It works with any kind of storage and claims to be “agnostic” to the platform.
ShadowProtect also helps migrate systems without downtime, be they virtual or actual systems.
“ShadowXafe” is another data protection solution created by StorageCraft and is their next-generation solution to today’s complicated data storage schema. With VMware integration, StorageCraft Cloud Service integration, and a unified data protection lifecycle, ShadowXafe might be the “next big thing” in data protection products.
Data Storage Solutions
With data always increasing, it’s been the wisdom up until now to just keep adding more hard drives on your server. And while that’s always going to be important, it may not always be the prudent way to keep up with inflating data sizes.
StorageCraft offers “OneBlox” a data storage solution that builds out rather than up. The idea is that instead of adding more and more storage to your physical space, instead you can use cloud solutions and OneBlox servers to manage all that data for you.
What Does StorageCraft Cost?
That’s a difficult question to answer, simply because there are so many products and features that StorageCraft is known for. However, while we can provide a few rough samples, it would be wise to reach out to StorageCraft for a quote for your particular needs.
If you’re more interested in licensing software, the costs vary. For instance, a 2-year subscription to StorageCraft ShadowProtect SPX Virtual – Standard edition is going to run around $1,831, with only the basic support package. With premium support tacked on, it’ll cost $2,105 total.
The StorageCraft ShadowProtect Virtual service (for server bundles) licenses for anywhere from $400 for a server 1-pack to $8,000 for a server 50-pack, with four other options in between those two extremes.
ShadowCraft ShadowProtect for Small Business costs about $549 with 1-year of maintenance and no premium support. Adding additional years costs about $100 per year, with premium maintenance costing another $80 added on top.
The cost of ShadowProtect servers comes in multiple tiers, from $930 for 1-9 users to $579 for 200-399 users, with multiple options in between.
What Do Users Think Of StorageCraft?
StorageCraft has great reviews all around the industry, from high-end tech magazines to everyday IT guys.
User Michael7281 on Spiceworks said the following about StorageCraft: “They supported us getting everything up and running before we even purchased the product. After it was running it worked so perfectly that we didn’t want to change.”
Another user, Justin McConkey, called it an “amazing product” that is “decently priced,” and said “the customer service is great. I’d recommend this for any company.”
Over at G2 Crowd, users had similarly positive things to say about StorageCraft’s “ShadowProtect” solution. One user called it “useful and smooth,” and that it “provides a very easy to use experience, with all aspects of the service clearly laid out.”
Users frequently praised the user interface, the robust customer support services, the simplicity of set-up, and the ability to make changes on a server without having to take everything down beforehand. Preserving continuity of service for users can be a huge boon, and users across the board seem to mostly have good things to say about StorageCraft’s abilities.
Awards and Recognition
StorageCraft has also won both awards and recognition in several mediums. They’ve won awards for “Best Cloud Backup and Disaster Recovery” from ChannelPro Network, “Capacity Storage Vendor” from “Storage Magazine“, “Best Channel Vendor” by Business Solutions, “Editor’s Choice Award” by Redmond Channel Partner, “Best of VMWorld” by VMworld, and the list of “Coolest Cloud Computing Vendors” by CRN.
StorageCraft has also been featured in dozens of popular publications like Storage Magazine, This Week in Enterprise Tech (podcast), Windows report, eSecurity Planet, Enterprise Storage Forum, and literally dozens more.
It’s clear the professional world is in love with StorageCraft just as much as most of its users are.
Are There Alternatives To StorageCraft?
There are plenty of alternatives to StorageCraft software. Data protection and backup is big business.
When it comes to free options, Clonezilla can do some of the things that ShadowProtect can do.
Clonezilla can create disk images, recover, and backup all data. It supports almost all file systems, can encrypt images and can encrypt with a 256 bit AES key. Plus, the encryption isn’t just on transfer – it’s for access and storage as well. For free, it’s a solid alternative, but it can’t do nearly all of the things that ShadowProtect can do and may only work for small businesses and simple applications.
For a more full-featured alternative, Carbonite is one of the largest in the business. It provides most (if not all) of the features that StorageCraft does, at various stages of execution. They’re generally considered pretty equal, with StorageCraft taking a small lead in comparisons.
Carbonite prices are generally lower but can’t do everything that StorageCraft does.
What We Think About StorageCraft
image via pixabay
When it comes down to it, StorageCraft data solutions and products are reliable, easy to set up, and seem to be agile enough to adapt to constantly-changing circumstances.
Ease of Use
Obviously, many ShadowProtect options (and other StorageCraft products) aren’t for everyday use by the layman. However, for IT professionals, their products are relatively straightforward to use. If you’re a normal person using one of the scaled-down desktop versions, this doesn’t hold as true.
Even their “consumer” options aren’t terribly user-friendly and require some knowhow. They definitely don’t hold your hand, even when they probably should, if they’re shooting for a general market.
A category where StorageCraft products do not fail is the robust features.
ShadowProtect (whether the desktop version or the professional IT version) is extremely robust, with options for any-sized business. Most StorageCraft software can run on Windows or Linux, and considering how often servers are running off Linux, that’s a handy bit of compatibility.
The software is also extremely communicative, which is a necessity for backup and data recovery software. The dashboard shows all activity, including a useful error notification chart that can tell you exactly where a backup or file went wrong.
The backup speed isn’t the fastest. With larger backups, it could take a noticeable amount of time to get everything synced. The software is often making full-image backups though (and replacing the old ones), so some slack in the speed makes sense.
However, data recovery is relatively smooth, and since it often only requires the push of a button it’s very easy to pull off.
StorageCraft prices are firmly in the middle of the pack – you can pay a lot more if you like, but there are cheaper alternatives.
However, for all of the features and security you get, we’d say it’s a price that’s more than fair. The servers are reasonably priced, the licensure for services is competitive, and even the Cloud credits aren’t too far off from competitors.
The Final Word On StorageCraft
Whether you’re going with ShadowProtect, XSafe, OneBlox, or just buying servers and equipment from StorageCraft, it’s hard to go wrong.
We recommend StorageCraft for IT professionals exclusively. While StorageCraft does have consumer-aimed products, they don’t quite make the cut when it comes to usability. In fact, you could safely think of their desktop options as “personal backup recovery for IT professionals,” maybe something a system administrator would set up for their personal data at home.
But, for large businesses dealing with a lot of data, you really can’t go wrong with StorageCraft products. Solid encryption, one-click solutions, good support, reasonable prices, and constantly-evolving features?
Data protection and backup simply can’t be neglected. Whether you’re looking to create a new program or are just tired of your old software, we hardily recommend StorageCraft to anyone in charge of their organization’s network.