Mirror your data

Diligent systems administrators try to protect their Windows NT servers from data loss by performing daily backups. However, crucial data can remain unprotected on workstations' local drives. You might have a policy requiring local users to back up their data, but are your users backing up consistently? Even if your users are on the ball, you'll find that most backups are static (i.e., they don't back up delta changes or files users created since the last backup), which might result in a loss of important files when you need to restore a system.

Uptime! Pro, which Xpoint Technologies targets at systems administrators and network managers, offers a solution. Uptime! provides backup and realtime hard disk mirroring that dynamically replicates the contents of designated folders or the client's entire hard disk.

The software arrives on one CD-ROM and includes two components: Uptime! Manager and Uptime! Client. I installed both components on my test server and installed the client component on an NT workstation connected to the network. The installation was straightforward and featured easy-to-follow wizards. Before you can configure Uptime! clients, you need to create a share in which Uptime! will store mirrored and backed-up data. You can create this share on a server, network-attached storage device, peer workstation, or separate local hard disk. I created a share called databack and set the preferred server to point to the databack share on the main server.

To add clients (i.e., workstations or servers whose data or drives you'll back up to the storage share you created), you simply right-click the main group, select Add Client, type the system's name in the dialog box, and click OK.

Uptime! provides three backup types: Path Backup, Full Drive Backup, and Mirroring. To configure a backup, you right-click the client, select a backup type from the pop-up menu, and click Settings. If you select Path Backup, you enter the path to the files you want to back up, as Screen 1 shows. The Browse button didn't work in my test, so I had to enter paths manually. (I contacted Xpoint's technical support, but the representative couldn't provide a reason for my problem.) When you finish configuring settings, you right-click the client again, then click Start from the appropriate backup menu. Within 5 minutes, I configured and ran a Path Backup and Mirroring on my test workstation. The Path Backup started and finished in a few minutes. The Mirroring process ran continuously, waiting for files to update.

Next, I tested Uptime!'s Revive option. Revive lets you create an alternative boot partition (i.e., an exact duplicate of the original) that you can boot from if the original partition fails. Users can continue to work using the alternative boot partition, which results in less downtime.

The product's One Button Restore option lets you restore a client's entire system with the click of a button. You'll need a Wired for Management (WfM)-compliant motherboard and a NIC before you can use One Button Restore. Uptime! also supports Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology (SMART) hard disks, which save data to a predefined storage resource when system failure is imminent. The SMART-enabled hard disk notifies the Uptime! Manager about unreliable client PCs so that you can take proactive action.

Uptime! Pro is more expensive than other realtime backup tools (e.g., Software Pursuits' SureSync). But if you're using SMART disks and systems enabled with WfM, the extra cost is worth the time you'll save.

Uptime! Pro
Contact: Xpoint Technologies * 561-241-8447
Web: http://www.instantrecovery.com
Price: Starts at $3725 (for 25 client licenses)
System Requirements: x86 processor or better, Windows NT Server 4.0 or NT Workstation 4.0, 16MB of RAM, 5MB of hard disk space, Java-enabled Web browser