iomega is launching an interesting new free benefit to buying their external storage called v.Clone. The download site is not available yet, but should be sometime this month. Note that this software requires an iomega hard drive and a PC capable of running Microsoft Windows (including Windows 7, Vista or XP). iomega says that it lets you;

"Capture a complete virtual image of your PC — including the operating system, all applications, your settings, and all your files to your Iomega hard drive. Access the cloned copy and use it seamlessly on another computer*, just as if you're working from your own PC. When you reconnect, automatically sync your data to your primary PC - everything is always up to date. Iomega v.Clone is a patent-pending cutting-edge technology—only Iomega offers this powerful solution."

I think this is worth checking out for three reasons;

  1. It's free. Ok that's not always the best reason, but if you own an iomega drive why not try it?
  2. You get a full backup of your PC. Most people don't backup their computers, but everyone should.
  3. In the event your computer has a hard drive failure you can be up and running on any PC you connect your iomega drive to.

From the Datasheet and the Introduction documents it looks to be very simple to use. It basically makes a VMWare disk image of your drive and then uses a portable copy of VMWare Player to boot your v.Clone image. Client software on your PC will sync changes to the drive when you connect it so you can take it to a friend's house, work on a document and then come home and once connected that document as well as any other changes will be synced back to your computer. It should be noted however the sync software doesn't watch all of the v.Clone drive. It watches "key folders" so one negative is that if you backup to the drive for a year and then try to boot the v.Clone somewhere then get ready for a year of Microsoft updates that need to apply. There is a benefit in that when you make your v.Clone your computer worked. When you need your v.Clone maybe something went wrong with your computer, and maybe it went wrong weeks ago. So to have a point in time for the OS actually is more of a feature than a detriment.

For the small business owners out there you might consider this for backup if you have nothing else, and you have only a few computers to backup. The software allows you to backup more than one machine to a single drive. You are limited only by the space available on the drive. If you have 10 machines with 80Gb of data each then you need at least 800Gb of storage so you might buy 2 of the eGo Ruby Red PS drives at $85/each. To me that is a no brainer if you have no backup process in place already.

For the security folks among us, v.Clone can be used in conjunction with an iomega eGo(TM) Encrypt or Encrypt Plus Portable Hard Drive, which safely encrypt data stored on them. Security measures aside, because the user's environment is virtualized and stored on their Iomega external hard drive, personal data is not left behind on a computer used to run the v.Clone image.

This might be the year that iomega gets back in the game.

iomega v.Clone lets you have your PC and eat it too