A cost-effective way to replicate and mirror files

Data replication is an important technology. Many replication products are hardware clustering solutions that rely on costly hardware components and OS add-ons. Software Pursuits' SureSync Real-Time is a software solution for file replication and mirroring.

I installed SureSync Real-Time on servers running Windows 2000 Server (Win2K Server) beta 3. The installation was simple and uneventful except for a minor error with a call to ole2.dll. The error message said the system couldn't access this file, but the error didn't affect the installation or the product's overall operation. Software Pursuits' Technical Support is evaluating the error. Considering that only one glitch occurred in software running on an OS's beta version, the product's overall operation was smooth and intuitive. The product's options for local and network installations simplify installation to other servers.

Configuring the software was as easy as installing it. To replicate files between two or more systems, you use a variety of methods, or rules, that determine when and how the product will update files. SureSync Real-Time can process open files, and the product forces the closure of an open file, if necessary.

Software Pursuits almost achieved its stated goal of creating a product that doesn't require a user's manual. (The product comes with a printed manual.) For example, wizards walk you through each setting for creating a new relation (the SureSync Real-Time term for file replication configuration). Screen 1 shows the configuration options for a new relation. Wizards let you test your relation, and extensive online Help answers most configuration questions. On my first attempt at creating a relation, I guessed at the options for mirroring shared folders on two servers. I received a successful configuration message, but I also received a SureSync Real-Time license error. Using the online Help, I discovered I was using a workstation license on Windows NT Server. Adding the proper license cleared the error.

SureSync Real-Time has a robust scheduling service that is useful during off-hours for replication over WAN and other slow links. Because administrators accomplish most tasks in realtime, I tested the software's realtime replication capabilities. I set the test relation to mirror two shares. Initially, the program added a few text files to the master (i.e., source) folder. When SureSync Real-Time detected the added file, the program replicated the file to the destination. The changes consistently took 50 to 55 seconds to replicate—fairly good results but not necessarily realtime. A prompt email message from Technical Support stated that changing the synchronization priority to high (from normal) decreases replication times. When I changed the synchronization priority, the file updates replicated quickly. I created a script to generate random-named and different-sized files, and the program replicated the additional files almost as fast as I produced them. Other relations, such as Exchanging Copies, also worked well. In this relation, multiple copies of a file exist in multiple locations. When you modify any copy, the program replicates the changes to all other copies.

SureSync Real-Time is robust, well designed, and versatile. For example, different methods exist for replicating data files. In addition, this software has several features for event logging and generating email alerts.

SureSync Real-Time
Contact: Software Pursuits * 650-372-0900 or 800-367-4823
Web: http://www.suresync.com
Price: $900 per server; $159 per user
System Requirements: 486 processor or better, Windows NT 4.0, 16MB of RAM, 20MB of hard disk space