Create ERDs over the network

If you are a Windows NT systems administrator, maintaining current copies of your Emergency Repair Disks (ERDs) may be the one job that always remains undone, especially if you have NT servers in several locations. No matter how often you say, "I'll update the ERDs tomorrow," you never do. Before you know it, you are hastily attempting to reconstruct a system without an ERD. If this scenario sounds familiar, you can probably benefit from Aelita Software Group's ERDisk 2.2.

With ERDisk, you can create ERDs for multiple servers and workstations simultaneously. Unlike the standard NT utility, rdisk.exe, ERDisk lets you create these disks remotely across your network by saving the necessary files to a central location.

The ERDisk program is contained on one 3.5" disk. The product has three components: ERDisk (which lets you maintain ERDs), ApplyERD (which lets you remotely restore all or part of a failed NT system Registry), and an online Help file (which contains detailed instructions about how to use the software).

You only have to install ERDisk on one of your network's computers, and you don't have to install any services or special operating system (OS) hooks on your remote systems. Because ERDisk uses all native NT services and features, you can use the product immediately after installation (i.e., you don't have to reboot). The software installs with the most commonly used configuration values, so in many instances, you won't need to change the software's default configuration.

Creating and Using Emergency Repair Disks
Using the software is simple. Screen 1 shows the NT host screen that appears when you launch the main erdisk.exe program. After you highlight the machines you want to create ERDs for, click Create ERD and OK. By default, the software will set up a series of directories within the ERDisk directory using the NT host as the directory name. You can customize this name to include the NT host name plus a date to keep a running history of ERDs. These directories will store all the files necessary to create an ERD.

To create a physical ERD for a server, you can go into that server's directory and copy the files to a disk. If the directory contains too many files to copy to one disk, you can copy select files, depending on the repair function you need to invoke on the remote machine (e.g., Security Accounts Manager­SAM database or Registry repair).

With the software's scheduling feature, you can set ERDisk to run automatically at regular intervals and create ERDs for you. For example, you can schedule the program to run each night at 11:00 p.m. to create ERDs for every host on your network. With this feature, you won't ever have to manually create ERDs again.

The Verdict
Overall, ERDisk is useful, especially because it performs a systems administration chore that most administrators like to avoid. ERDisk provides effective system protection with minimal administrator involvement. ERDisk creates ERDs for you. All you do is go to the disk storage directory when you need an ERD.

For those of you who have both Intel- and Alpha-based NT servers or workstations, Aelita Software Group has a special version of ERDisk that includes an Alpha agent so that you can create ERDs for your servers from a single Intel-based host. The company also offers an NT workstation version of the product.

ERDisk 2.2
Contact: Aelita Software Group 614-336-9223
Price: $395 (server version) and $295 (workstation version)
System Requirements: Windows NT Server or Workstation 3.51 or 4.0, 64MB of RAM, 3.5" drive