Contents | < Browse | Browse >

===========================================================================
                         Review: Quarterback v6.1
                            By:  William Near 
===========================================================================

I'll admit it; I'm guilty of using the original HDBackup program that comes
with Workbench for quite some time now.  That is, until Quarterback v6.1
came my way a few weeks ago.  I guess I was just too lazy to check out more
than a few of the Shareware/PD offerings in this area.  After all, HDBackup
had done an acceptable job of backing up my data onto floppy disks.  When I
bought my SyQuest EZ135S drive, all that changed.

HDBackup would not recognize my EZ drive as a valid device to backup my
data to; although it would recognize it as a valid source device to backup!
Go figure. 

Enter Quarterback from Quasar Distribution. [Note: For those of you
confused by this, keep in mind that Quasar obtained Quarterback from the
liquidated New Horizons assets. -Jason]

Quarterback installs easily onto your hard drive using the Commodore
(should I still use such a profane word?) Installer.  Upon first starting
the program, you are presented with the main Quarterback screen that
consists of: a listing of all devices and assigns, four buttons (Backup,
Restore, Enter, and Back), and a series of pulldown menus.

The first thing you must do is configure Quarterback to your liking by
setting a series of options from the pulldown menus.  The Backup options
are the first in line.  You must select whether you would like to make a
Selective or Complete backup of the data, what media you would like to use
to backup the data on, e.g., floppy, removable media, tape, or an AmigaDOS
file.  You must also select what type of Compression you wish to use (none,
12-16 bit, or device compression).  Keep in mind, the higher the
compression value the less space you will need to make the backup, but the
longer time it will take to make the backup.  There are also settings for:
password protection, setting archive flags, verifying data after write,
warning if destination is an AmigaDOS volume, and if you'd like the entire
directory structure backed up. 

The Restore options are next.  You can choose between Restore, Compare, and
Test as possible restore options.  The Compare option will check the
content of the destination against the source's content after a backup is
completed, showing any discrepancies in the data.  The Test option will
read all data from the destination device and make sure that there are no
errors present.  The same options for selecting the various device types
are present, as well as: replacing files with earlier or later dates (yes,
no, or ask), set file dates (current date, backup date, or original date),
restore empty drawers, restore archive flags, and whether to keep the
directory structure intact when restoring data.  This last option is
critical, as it can cause a restore of data to be placed entirely in the
root directory of the destination device!  This could make for quite a mess
as none of the original directories will be used for the restored data.
Making sure that this option is set will save you from having to delete
possibly thousands of files from your root directory.

Quarterback generates a Catalog of activities when making a backup.  This
Catalog is saved to the beginning and end of the backup data so that if one
Catalog becomes unreadable then the other one can be accessed by the
program.  There are several configuration options available to control what
is included in the Catalog and how the information will look.  The options
are: file information (show file size, protection flags, date modified, and
time modified), time format (show seconds and/or AM PM), sort by (name,
size, date, group drawers first), and the date format.

During a Backup or Restore a Session Log is generated in the output window
of Quarterback.  You can select what will be displayed in the Session Log
from these options: errors only, errors with drawer names, errors with
drawer and file names, rate in megabytes per minute, compression
efficiency, no Session Log displayed while the operation is in progress,
and options for saving the Session Log.

There are settings for the Buffer options too.  These include: backup and
restore buffer sizes ranging from 1K to 8192K, what type of memory to use
for the buffers (graphics, 24-bit, or any), and whether to use asynchronous
I/O (this is faster, but some SCSI controllers do not fully support it.)
The thing to keep in mind here is just how much memory do you have to spare
for making the program run faster?  I used 1024K for both buffers on my
machine.

Tape backup options for auto-retensioning inserted tapes and rewinding
after a backup or restore are also present.  I could not test either of
these, though, since I don't have a tape backup drive.

Finally, there are Preferences for flashing the screen and playing the
system alert sound upon disk completion and/or error notification.  Also
included are preferences for including icons with Quarterback files,
warning on invalid filenames, and if you would like assigned directories
included in the device listings.  Printer preferences are included in
another menu for outputting the Session Logs or Catalogs generated by
Quarterback to your printer.

Quarterback also includes some other utilities.  Tape Control options for
rewinding, tensioning, erasing, and advancing a tape are included.  A SCSI
Interrogator utility allows you to get information about any SCSI device
attached to your computer, e.g., device type, vendor, model, revision,
block size, and media size.  Up to ten macros can be called from the
Function keys or by pulldown menu choices to execute ARexx scripts that the
user has defined.  The list of Macro Language Commands available in
Quarterback seems to be quite extensive and two example scripts are
included too.

Enough of the boring details, let's make a backup!

The first step is to click on a device name in the window that you wish to
backup.  After doing so, the number of disks required for the backup will
be shown in the window if you are backing up to floppy.  Clicking on Start
will begin the process.  A list of all files and directories will begin to
appear in the window and the progress will be indicated by way of
files/bytes tagged and files/bytes completed status lines, and a percentage
completed line.  If you chose a complete backup then Quarterback will jump
directly into the backup process; otherwise, Quarterback will scan the
entire source device and present you with a list of directories and files
from which to tag only those you wish to backup.  Jumping into a directory
to tag just a few files is as simple as double-clicking on the directory
name and tagging the desired files.  The are also buttons to enter and exit
directories.

When using the floppy backup option an indicator will unghost representing
each of the drives available to the system.  These indicators show the
status of all floppy drives on the system at all times.  You are shown when
a new disk needs to be inserted and into which drive it belongs.  The
floppy swapping routine seems to be pretty much idiot-proof.  I also used
my EZ drive to backup my hard drive partitions.  While the manual states
that the backup process will work across volumes, I found this not to be
true in the case of the EZ drive.  I had to use the AmigaDOS file backup
option to use my EZ drive.  This option just creates one huge file on the
destination device.  This worked just fine, but I would have rather used
the tape/removable option with my EZ drive.  I contacted Quasar and they
are working on the problem with recognizing the SyQuest EZ drive in this
particular mode.

When the backup is completed, the backup rate, compression reduction,
number of errors, and date/time of the backup are displayed in the window.
If you enabled the verify-data-after-write option then the newly completed
backup will have already been tested for errors.  Of course, you could do
the verifying and comparing (Test and Compare) as a separate step from the
Restore menu if you so choose.  It took 3:30 hours to complete the backup
and compare of my WORK partition (173 Mb of data) to the SyQuest drive.
The only thing I didn't like about using the AmigaDOS file backup option is
that if you run out of room on the disk, Quarterback will just tell you
that the volume is full and commences with deleting the entire archive!
Who cares if you have just waited two hours for the backup?   Quarterback
should have a way of estimating the needed space when using the AmigaDOS
file option.

Restoring a backup is a simple process.  Just click on the device to
restore to and set the options for source device, etc.  You can also select
which files to restore or just restore the whole backup to the destination
device.   All the same on-screen information that was presented while
backing up a device will also be shown during a restore.  It took 1:41
hours to do a complete restore of my WORK partition from the SyQuest drive.

One other note: you can pause a backup or restore at any time by clicking
on the pause button.

Just for your curiosity, here is the data from my hard drive archive:

* Restore rate: 0.- megabytes per minute
* Compression reduction: 28%
* Number of errors: 0
* Restore finished Apr 14, 1996 at 7:33:22 PM

Quarterback also includes a separate program called Schedule Pro.  This is
a program that allows Quarterback to perform automatic backups on a
one-time basis or on a preset schedule.  I have Schedule Pro's icon in my
WBStartup drawer and I have it set to remind me to backup the hard drive on
the first day of each month.  You can also use Schedule Pro to remind you
of birthdays and other special events, as well as having the program
execute any AmigaDOS program or ARexx macros at any time you specify.   It
makes for a nice addition to the Quarterback program.

Quarterback seems to be a very complete archival program.  It is very
intuitive to use and you shouldn't really need the manual all that much.  
Speaking of the manual, it's well written and includes many screenshots
too, but it lacks an index, which makes it hard to find specific items.
The table of contents is usable, but it doesn't really show you where some
of the finer details of the program's functions are located in the manual.
There is a nice section explaining incremental backup strategies and a
troubleshooting section. 

Generally, Quarterback v6.1 seems to be a fine piece of work and it's well
worth the money, especially if you're still using HDBackup!  Once the
problem with the EZ drive not being recognized under the tape/removable
option is fixed (remember, you can still use the EZ drive -- you just have
to use the AmigaDOS file option, providing you have enough free space on
the cartridge ahead of time!) and an index is added to the manual, I won't
have any complaints.