Security products'software: With UltraBac, recovery is good as Gold
- By John Breeden II
- Mar 17, 2004
When disaster strikes, image can be everything.
That's the approach UltraBac Software of Bellevue, Wash., takes. The company's UltraBac Disaster Recovery Gold uses disk-imaging technology to create a backup of Microsoft Windows servers and PCs.
Rather than perform a traditional file-by-file backup, UBDR Gold takes a snapshot of a hard drive or storage medium. In the event of a hard drive crash, a user or systems administrator simply boots the failed machine from the UltraBac Gold CD to pull the last known good image of the drive across the network.
Because the backup is an image and not a file-by-file backup, the restoration process can be completed in minutes, UltraBac officials said.
'We recently redesigned the buffering algorithm, and we have dramatically improved the performance,' said Paul Bunn, UltraBac's chief technology officer. 'We are now restoring on a typical server between 1G and 1.2G a minute over the network. Your typical system partition might represent 6G to 8G of data, so that's a six- to eight-minute restore.'
The snapshot doesn't create a physical copy of all the data on a drive but rather constructs pointers that map files and directories to specific disk blocks. The process is often called copy-on-write technology.
'It's been around in the mainframe and VMS world for eons, since at least the late '60s and early '70s,' Bunn said. 'We just updated that technology and rewrote it for the Windows environment. What our snapshot does is freeze the view of the drive as we're backing it up.'
One federal agency that has been testing UBDR expects to save time and expense by using the software to backup its drives at remote sites around the world.
When a server crashes at a site, agency officials often have to dispatch a technician to the site'at a cost of thousands of dollars'to rebuild the drive and recover mission-critical data. Now, UBDR software will let on-site personnel restore a drive simply by inserting the backup CD.
UBDR Gold runs under all Windows operating systems, including XP, 2000 and 2003.
The software also can be used for hardware deployment. Users can image one machine and clone that machine to others, UltraBac officials said.
UBDR Gold offers Blowfish encryption to ensure that backups protect proprietary and confidential data.
Other enhancements to the latest release are backup and restore from a File Transfer Protocol server and an IBM Tivoli storage manager device, Bunn said.
'For FTP you can actually do an image backup to an FTP server and restore directly from the FTP server,' he said. 'All you need is TCP/IP connectivity, and you're good to go.'
UBDR Gold also incorporates a new restore wizard that walks the user or system administrator through a step-by-step restore process.
A user simply boots the failed machine from the UBDR Gold disk and uses the wizard to grab the latest backup image of the drive. When the transfer is complete, the user reboots the machine and is back in business.
When a machine fails, 'it's a very stressful time so we try to make [the restoration process] as simple and logical as possible,' Bunn said.
UltraBac officials said General Services Administration schedule pricing for UBDR Gold starts at $696.50.
John Breeden II is a freelance technology writer for GCN.