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Disaster Recovery

SonicWall provides two options for automatically storing data offsite.  First, the CDP can be configured to back itself up to another CDP, which it refers to as a Site-to-Site backup, as long as there is a network connection between them, typically a VPN or WAN connection as depicted in Figure 11.  Additional licenses have to be purchased to enable Site-to-Site functionality.  SonicWall lists a one node license for this feature at $500.

Site-to-site backup

Figure 11: Site-to-site backup

Second, the CDP can be configured to back up some or all of your data over the Internet to a secure offsite facility.  The data is encrypted in transmission and storage and is unreadable to everyone except the holder of your AES 256-bit encryption key, found in the Enterprise software.  If you're subscribing to this service, make sure you keep a copy of your key offsite.  You don't want a fire to destroy both your CDP and the key to retrieving the data.  This functionality remains unchanged from my previous review, along with the price, which runs $353 annually for 5 GB of offsite storage.

In addition to backing up user data, the CDP 110 provides backup services for common small business servers, such as Microsoft Exchange, Acitve Directory, and SQL Server.  Each of these services is backed up using the technology in the Agent tool to authenticate to the appropriate server and copy the critical data from the server to the CDP appliance.

Closing Thoughts

All this convenience and functionality comes with a high price tag—the CDP ain't cheap.  SonicWall sells its products through various partners, so you'll have to shop around for the best deal.  The CDP 110 lists for $1999, but I was able to find it as low as $1359 on Pricegrabber.

The CDP 110 comes with 1 Year Standard Hardware Support and 90 Days Dynamic Support.  For ongoing support, there are 1 year, 2 year, and 3 year support agreements.  SonicWall lists a 1 year 8x5 support agreement, which includes software upgrades, for $419.  If you want to upgrade to 24x7, the 1 year agreement will cost $459. 

There are other solutions.  I reviewed the Netgear ReadyNAS Duo a while back, which is a pretty solid NAS with redundant and replaceable hard drives.  The Duo runs only $375 with a single 1TB hard drive.  Adding a redundant 1TB drive to the Duo can be done easily for less than $100, a significant advantage over the CDP.

The ReadyNAS comes with a single license for NTI's Shadow backup software, which can be configured to perform continuous backups, similar to the SonicWall CDP.  To match the CDP 110 capacity of 15 PCs, 14 additional licenses of NTI Shadow at $39.99 each will run $560 bringing the total cost of the 15 PC Duo solution to about  $1035. 

Of course the Duo doesn’t provide as comprehensive a backup solution as the CDP with its Agent and Enterprise tools, Reporting functionality, and offsite backup capability.  Further, the NTI Shadow software requires multiple configuration steps at each PC which isn't as simple as using the CDP Agent application. 

To make their CDP solution less expensive, I wonder why SonicWall doesn't create a software-only version of this product.  Let the CDP Agent software write data to a NAS or allow the product to run as a Virtual Machine that writes to a Network Storage device.  This would still have SonicWall’s effectiveness and simplicity, but give customers more hardware options.  I asked this question of SonicWall's marketing folks, who stated they were working on the licensing requirements for some version of these approaches.

Two years ago I was impressed with the 2440i, and I remain impressed with the 110 for the same reasons.  CDP, or continuous data protection, makes reliable file backup easy.  Once set up, it requires no action on the part of the user or administrator.  There is no scheduling or delay in file backups.  Backups happen automatically and instantly. 

In fact, the 2440i I reviewed two years ago, which was donated to a local church, remains up and running today without issue.  The end users in the parish office continue to create and edit files on their PCs while the SonicWall software instantly makes backups of their files without interference or requiring any action on their part.  It has already been used multiple times to restore critical lost files due to PC hardware failures.

SonicWall states that 20-60% of small company critical data is on end users' hard drives.  The best solution for dealing with end users is to keep it simple, and SonicWall's CDP certainly does that.  I've found that SonicWall's CDP just works, with no down time during backup and restores, no worries about scheduling or backup management, and now the flexibility to back itself up to USB drives, other CDP devices, as well as an offsite storage facility.  If you're looking for a reliable no-brainer backup solution, the CDP is about as easy as it gets.

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