One consistent backup nightmare that IT professionals face is the casually connected or mobile user. Many companies have a field force of professionals who do their work on notebook computers and obviously need to maintain a current backup of their data. The difficulties involved in doing so, however, mean that in most organizations, backing up mobile users is a haphazard process. Typically, this process involves attempting to catch a backup of a user's notebook computer when he or she makes a stop at the main or remote office locations, using an enterprise backup solution optimized for low-bandwidth connections.

Such is the problem that FASTORA believes it has solved with its ExBoot EXB-0111 and EXB-0121 backup appliances. These USB 2.0-connected drive enclosures (the 0111 for 1.8" drives, the 0121 for 2.5" drives) offer up to 80GB of data protection in a very small package that's easily carried in a notebook case along with other standard notebook accessories.

By simply pressing the button on the EXB's case, you launch the included ExBoot automated backup software, which backs up the entire system, doing a complete backup the first time it's run and incremental backups after the complete backup has been done. This means that in most cases, a mobile user need only connect the EXB device for a few minutes to back up his or her day's work over the 480Mbps USB 2.0 connection.

With its single-button backup, the included ExBoot backup application is designed for simplicity, but you can also set it up to do scheduled backups (if the computer remains connected). ExBoot lets you recover single files, including previous versions of existing files. So, for example, if you decide that you need an earlier revision of a document or spreadsheet, you can easily recover that version from the EXB drive.

In the event of a complete hard disk failure, you can use the EXB as an external boot device (most current system BIOSs support booting from USB devices). This means that mobile users have no downtime while they await a replacement hard drive. When the new hard drive or replacement notebook arrives, you connect the EXB device to it, and the EXB does a complete restore of the system to the new drive or notebook. You lose little or no time dealing with the crashed hard drive (presuming that a replacement notebook is the same model as the original).

This also gives mobile users the benefits of what is basically a complete system restore point. If a new application is installed that causes system problems, or a new patch or application upgrade causes problems, you can restore the system from the backup device. Conversely, patches and applications could first be installed to the backup unit (after booting from the EXB) to determine whether they're likely to cause any problems.

FASTORA also offers a desktop version of the ExBoot, the EXB-0131, which uses a normal 3.5" drive enclosure and supports up to 400GB of backup storage. This device could be useful if you support telecommuting users who need their remote desktop systems backed up, but it isn't a replacement for an enterprise backup solution for internal users.