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December 8, 2006
Vol.28 Issue 49|
Page(s) 26 in print issue
Surviving A Crash
How Drive Imaging Software Can Aid Disaster Recovery
Disasters come in all shapes and sizes. From the virus attacks to flooding and fire, the bottom line is when the computer quits working, so does the user. In todays business world, especially for organizations that exist entirely online, an outage can lead to substantial losses, including that of the business entirely.
According to Maeve Cummings, Stephen Haag, and Donald J. McCubbrey, authors of Management Information Systems for the Information Age, organizations routinely spend up to 25% of their budgets on disaster recovery plans. While this figure may appear high, keep in mind that out of all companies that experience a major disaster in which their data is lost, 43% never reopen, 51% close within two years, and only 6% continue to operate for the long term.
For smaller organizations, disaster recovery solutions, such as BrightStor ARCserve from CA (www.ca.com), VeriSign Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity solutions (www.verisign.com), tape drives, and offsite backup facilities can be costly to install and maintain. A viable alternative is drive imaging software, which has existed since the days of DOS.
Drive imaging software has matured into a technology capable of delivering an affordable disaster recovery solution through new features such as centralized administration, network capabilities, security, support for multiple platforms, and granular control over backup and restoration options.
There are numerous solutions on the market, including many freeware utilities for drive imaging. However, organizations that depend on their data would be wise to stick with commercial products that have undergone extensive QA testing, as well as those that offer technical support and are specifically designed for a networked environment.
Initially designed for the desktop, drive imaging solutions have grown to include options for networked workstations and servers and multiple platforms and have added security features such as encryption, storage management, and drive wiping.
Timing Is Critical
Businesses are realizing that backing up their systems is just one step in being prepared for a disaster. In a real disaster situation, quick recovery of business-critical data is crucial, says Acronis CEO Walter Scott (www.acronis.com).
Recognizing this, the True Image solution from Acronis includes the capacity to create exact replicas of both servers and workstations, perform bare-metal restores within minutes, back up and restore individual folders and files, and provide centralized administration.
Unlike early drive imaging software that only allowed a full image to be copied to a parallel hard drive, you can now save images to a variety of locations, including virtual machines, networked hard drives, FTP servers, USB flash drives, or even CD/DVD without the use of third-party disk-burning software.
Automation & Security
While images of both server and workstation drives are a big step toward restoring business continuity in the event of a disaster, left unsecured, those same files pose a huge security risk that could lead to a different type of catastrophe—theft or tampering.
Norton Ghost (www.symantec.com) has been a heavyweight in the imaging market for the last decade. Over the years, Ghost has grown to include the ability to handle NTFS partitions, compress images, and attach passwords to protect images.
Building on the requirements for security, Symantec has integrated encryption into the latest release of Norton Ghost. This lets organizations bound by regulatory compliance meet stringent data protection requirements without spending a lot of money on expensive encryption technologies for backup files.
Another area in which Norton Ghost shines (as with all of Symantecs products) is with automation and ease of use. Novices (read: small companies with no IT departments) can easily install and set up Norton Ghost for regular automated backups to practically all media, including CD-R/RW and DVD±R/RW drives, USB, and FireWire devices. Restoration and managing images is as simple as using a standard file management tree. However, note that Norton Ghost only supports Microsoft operating systems.
In most environments, data is constantly changing. This means that the backup image created last week or last month may be dramatically different from the one made yesterday.
Addlogix SnapShot (www.addlogix.com) is an imaging product that allows users to create and manage snapshots of their systems. Using only a fraction of resources for images, users can save multiple images without depleting storage space.
What sets Addlogix apart from other imaging software is its ability to save or move files in a current snapshot to a previous snapshot during a restoration. Using the Advanced Data Synchronization feature, users can manually choose existing files to be transferred to a restored image.
Unlike imaging solutions that are constantly updated, Faronics Deep Freeze (www.faronics.com) maintains the status quo for drive images regardless of the changes a user makes to a workstation. Each time the system is rebooted, the entire drive is restored to the original state.
An excellent choice for environments where multiple users work on a single workstation, such as public machines and educational institutions, Deep Freeze rids all traces of malware, private user settings, unwanted applications such as P2P, chat, and games, as well as data.
Faronics supports both Microsoft and Mac platforms, with future plans for a Linux edition. There are two versions, Standard and Enterprise. The Enterprise version provides centralized management as well as advanced features for security and configuration.
Whether your computer has fallen victim to the whims of Mother Nature or the dreaded Blue Screen Of Death, drive imaging software can provide an affordable and easy disaster recovery solution.
by Sandra Kay Miller
Product Rundown |
|Product ||Features ||Price ||Web Site |
|Acronis True Image ||Images can be saved to an existing hard drive, FTP site, or virtual machine on the network as well as burned to DVD without third-party burning software ||Enterprise Server: $999 |
Windows or Linux Server: $699
|Addlogix SnapShot ||Extremely efficient; uses minimal resources, including dynamic space management, to offer a wide variety of backup and restoration options ||$44.99 ||www.addlogix.com |
|Faronics Deep Freeze ||Provides a baseline computer configuration upon restart, regardless of the changes that have been made during the previous session ||Windows version: $29.95 |
Mac ARD version: $44.95
|Norton Ghost ||The latest version includes encryption for more secure backups and the Back Up Now feature, providing single-click backup ||$69.99 ||www.symantec.com |