The Offsite Feature is one of the CDP's gems. The 1440i and 2440i have single hard drives, and hard drives fail. Even on the higher end 3440i and 4440i devices that have RAID arrays, good disaster recovery planning dictates offsite storage of mission-critical data. SonicWALL automates offsite storage in the CDP with its subscription-based Offsite storage feature, eliminating the hassles of transporting and housing tapes or disks.
AES-256 bit encryption is used to securely send data from the folders selected by the administrator to one of SonicWALL’s three offsite data centers. (AES-256 bit encryption is an NSA-approved encryption method; it's faster and more secure than DES/3DES encryption.)
Once you've subscribed to the service, all you have to do is select which data is mission critical, and SonicWALL does the rest. Enabling a folder for Offsite backup is simply a matter of a check box in the Enterprise Manager.
Files and data in folders that are being backed up to the CDP and configured for Offsite backup will automatically be transmitted from the CDP to the SonicWALL data center. Transmission from the CDP to the data center happens shortly after the data is stored on the CDP. This activity is behind the scenes, though, and there are no controls or visibility for the network administrator to schedule or monitor the transmission of data from the CDP to the data center.
SonicWALL gave us a 5GB test subscription to the Offsite service, so I set three folders on three different PCs with about 280MB of data to be backed up Offsite. The Offsite functionality is an out of sight, out of mind feature. You don't see anything happening once configured, but the CDP is sending the data in small amounts to the selected data center.
When I looked at my CDP the next morning, the Offsite report confirmed the backup was complete and copies of my selected folders were offsite; see Figure 10. To retrieve the data per the SonicWALL documentation, you'll need to contact SonicWALL tech support. You also need to retain a copy of your unique 256-bit key, as this key makes your data secure from even SonicWALL’s engineers.
Figure 10: The Offsite Service report
Bare Metal Backup
Bill Meade writes that "Bare Metal" backup is a killer app for NAS devices in his recent review of the HP Media Vault Pro NAS. I agree with Bill on the value of this application. It appears SonicWALL does too, as they have made Bare Metal Backup a service along with its CDP solution.
Although a form of data protection, Bare Metal Backup is really a distinct function from file backups. Bare Metal Backup allows you to create an image of your system, selecting an entire drive or partition as the backup object instead of selecting folders as the backup object.
Creating an image means backing up an entire disk or file structure in one shot, including operating system, applications, and files. Having an image of your system is useful if you want to erase or replace your hard disk and reload from scratch, but save yourself the time of re-installing the OS and all your applications.
The 2440i includes two licenses for Bare Metal software from Acronis. I installed the Acronis software on an XP Pro machine loaded with about 50GB of applications and ran the software to create an image of my C drive. The resulting image was about 38GB in size.
I configured the Acronis software to save the image in a folder on the D drive, and then configured the Agent Tool software to back up that folder to the CDP. If I wanted this image to be stored offsite, I could also have configured that folder for offsite backup, but with the size of the image, this would have exceeded my test offsite subscription. Instead, I made a copy of the image to a network drive.
To restore my machine from this image, I would boot my machine to a bootable CD created using the Acronis recovery software; see Figure 11 below. Since the Acronis boot CD loads network functionality, I would then point the Acronis recovery software at the network location where I copied the image.
The end result is that Bare Metal Recovery functionality provides the ability to efficiently restore an entire Operating System and all the applications with a single boot disk and network connection.