I always hesitate to write software reviews because I’ve always found hardcore technical content to be more beneficial to my readers. This week, however, one outstanding product (GoBack by Wild File) saved me hours of frustration. Since it’s such an outstanding piece of software, I broke down and decided to write a review of GoBack out of gratitude to the good people at Wild File.

GoBack is a utility that uses a portion of your hard disk space to keep a record of every change that’s made to your computer. These changes include anything from updating a single file to deleting a directory. If disaster strikes and you lose data, GoBack allows you to use its records to go back in time and revert your hard disk to a previous state.

The demo
I was introduced to GoBack at the Show Stoppers party one night after COMDEX. I had just had a very long day of looking at all sorts of technological marvels. Between being tired and having seen so much already, I really didn’t expect to see anything impressive at the party. Honestly, the only reason I went was for the food.

Upon visiting the Wild File booth, however, I saw a demo that I couldn’t ignore. A man booted a computer into MS-DOS mode and deleted the entire Windows directory and all of the subdirectories underneath. Then, he attempted to boot the computer to prove that it was indeed unbootable. But within moments, he had used GoBack to jump a few minutes into the past and had made it as though nothing had ever been changed. What was really fantastic was that Windows didn’t need to be functional for this man to use his product. Likewise, he didn’t have to resort to using boot floppies or any other external tools. It was very easy for him to recover Windows.

The incident
Needless to say, the demo impressed me thoroughly. However, I returned from COMDEX with four suitcases full of stuff that people wanted me to review. Although GoBack was definitely one of the better products, I soon forgot about it. I loaded it onto a coworker’s PC shortly after I came back from COMDEX, played with it a little, and then forgot that it was there—until yesterday.

As many of you know, I’ve always been a big command-prompt guy. Having grown up with DOS, I find that using the command prompt for simple file manipulation is quicker than using the graphical user interface. Yesterday, I was trying to erase some files from a temporary directory with the erase *.* command. What I didn’t notice was that I had misspelled the directory name in my CD command. I wasn’t in the right directory, and I deleted some critical payroll files. Since the deletion occurred at the DOS prompt, opening the Recycle Bin wasn’t an option. Fortunately, I was using the same PC onto which I had loaded GoBack so many months earlier.

Not even knowing if it would still work, I told GoBack to take me five minutes into the past. It was like pressing a magic OOPS button. My mistake had never occurred, and nobody ever knew that I had screwed up (until now). GoBack saved my reputation—and possibly my job.

The product
Now that I’ve told you how GoBack functions in the real world, you may be interested in all of the usual information that people expect to find in reviews. GoBack comes on a CD-ROM, and it includes a brief but comprehensive instruction manual. The installation program is very standard, and the program itself is extremely easy to use, even without reading the manual. GoBack isn’t jam-packed with complicated features. It serves one purpose, and it performs that service very well.

There are only two drawbacks to GoBack. First, it can consume a lot of hard disk space. It starts with 10% of your free hard disk space, but you can adjust that number. The more disk space you give it, the further you can go back in time. The second negative aspect is more of a wish on my part than anything else. For obvious reasons, the program doesn’t work with Windows NT or Windows 2000. If Wild File would create a Windows NT version, I’d be the first person in line to buy one.
If you’re interested in acquiring a copy of GoBack, you can contact Wild File at:Wild File, Inc.
3070 Ranchview Lane
PO Box 47038
Plymouth, MN 55447
Voice (763) 551-0881
Fax (763) 551-9998

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance technical writer and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. If you’d like to contact Brien, send him an e-mail. (Because of the large volume of e-mail he receives, it’s impossible for him to respond to every message. However, he does read them all.)

The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein, but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.