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File Restore

I love the fact that the CDP allows end users to recover their own files.  Instead of asking an admin or another employee to retrieve a file, an end user simply has to open the Agent application, click on the file they are trying to retrieve, and select the desired version.  The latest 15 versions of a file are retrievable, and are displayed by date and time of change as shown in the Figure 7 below.  According to SonicWall, the majority of file restores are for single files, so it is certainly efficient to put this capability into the hands of the end users.

File versions

Figure 7: File versions

In addition to file and folder backups, the Agent can back up user data from various "live" applications.  A key application that creates data that should be continuous backed up is email and the CDP supports  Microsoft Outlook and Outlook Express email backup.  Unfortunately, other email applications like Vista Mail or Mozilla Thunderbird are not supported. 

Management

The SonicWall CDP Enterprise Manager application is the administration tool for viewing system status, managing Agents, Applications, Policies, finding files, generating Reports, configuring system Alerts, and Archiving data.

Anything an end user can configure on the Agent application can also be configured via the Enterprise Manager.  With this tool, an admin from his or her PC can ensure that all the necessary folders on each end user's PCs are being backed up, and select which ones get backed up offsite.  (I'll touch on the offsite backup capability later.)

The Policy tool allows an Administrator to create groups of custom settings for various end users.  Policies can be created specifying different folders, applications, and off site settings destined for backup.

The Enterprise tool provides nine useful reports including Executive Summary, Agent Summary, Disk Space utilization by File Type and Agent, Policy Summaries and Agents by Policy, Server and Client Application Summaries and a report on Offsite data storage. 

For example, the Executive Summary in Figure 8 shows that I have five agents configured to back up files to the CDP appliance and provides a breakdown of files stored on the appliance.  Notice in the bottom line that the total file size of 859.93MB has been “revised” or compressed to 482.81MB.

Executive Summary
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Figure 8: Executive Summary

Other Features

A new feature from my last review is the ability to back up data from the CDP to a USB drive.  I tested this with a simple USB thumb drive and a 40 GB hard drive.  In both cases, archiving data from the CDP to the USB storage device was a matter of selecting the PCs and folders to be backed up from the Appliance Archive menu, shown in Figure 9.

Appliance Archive
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Figure 9: Appliance Archive

I had previously set up the CDP to send email Alerts on various conditions.  By default, the system will send an email alert on completion of an Archive, so I received the following message when the archive successfully completed:

On 9/28/2009 11:07:17 PM, local archiving on snwl is completed: 1 agent(s), 569 file(s) were archived successfully, 0 file(s) were skipped.”

Along with the addition of creating CDP archives on USB, SonicWall includes a CDP Local Archive Restoration application that enables the restoral of files from USB.   Let's say your CDP has crashed and you need to restore files from the USB drive that you used to back up the files.  Simply connect the USB 2.0 drive to a PC and run the Local Archive Restoration application; it is as simple as using Windows Explorer to find and copy files.

Also included with the CDP 110 is a single license for the Bare Metal Recovery and Local Archiving software.  The software is actually the True Image product from Acronis.  Additional licenses of this software are available on SonicWall's website for $30 per PC and $299 per Server. 

With the Acronis software loaded on my Vista PC, I made a full image of my laptop C: drive to a shared drive on my network as shown in Figure 10.  My laptop's C drive was using about 73GB of space.  The resulting image file was only 42GB in size.

Imaging a C drive
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Figure 10: Imaging a C drive

Also built into the Bare Metal software is the ability to create a bootable restoral disk.  In the event the hard drive on my laptop fails, I could replace the drive, boot with the restoral disk, and restore the image of my entire operating system and applications.  I could then use the Agent application to restore lost files.

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