Other Products and Resources

Copyright 2009 by Stephen Vermeulen
Last updated: 2009 Nov 03


This is part of a series of articles on backing up computers. The top page is Design for an Archiving Backup System.

Existing Products

Here are some existing backup programs:
  • BackupPC (home page) is a network backup server that runs on a Linux host and can backup Windows and MacOS clients.
  • DoubleImage, from Host Interface, might only be $60
  • A collection of White Papers on backup technologies. Of course white papers are thinly disguised sales pitches, but this puts you in touch with some of the bigger commercial players in this field.
  • BackupServer a shareware product
  • NovaStor makers of a range of products
  • Computer Associates, looks like high end stuff
  • SoftwareWorld has a variety of programs for sale
  • Data-Backup-and-Storage.com
  • Knowledgestorm has reviews of a lot of products
  • Backup for Workgroups includes a number of links to competitors and shareware
  • DMOZ open directory project's backup software page has a lot of links
  • WinBackup
  • Backup On Demand from Caddais software
  • Listing of the top 10 market share holders in backup
  • A hardware/software combination to reduce the data redundancy in backups from DataDomain, a start-up company (this may be similar to what I am proposing)
  • Mirra is a storage appliance for your LAN that is used for backup. You don't access the files on it directly, there is some software you install on each client PC that gets at them. Slashdot discussion here and more recently here.
  • BackupPC is a sourceforce backup project. BackupPC is written in Perl and extracts backup data via SMB using Samba, tar over ssh/rsh/nfs, or rsync. It is robust, reliable, well documented and freely available as Open Source on SourceForge. A clever pooling scheme minimizes disk storage and disk I/O. Identical files across multiple backups of the same or different PCs are stored only once resulting in substantial savings in disk storage and disk I/O. One example of disk use: 95 laptops with each full backup averaging 3.6GB each, and each incremental averaging about 0.3GB. Storing three weekly full backups and six incremental backups per laptop is around 1200GB of raw data, but because of pooling and compression only 150GB is needed.
  • Datman is DOS driver that provides drive letter type access to a DAT or 8mm tape drive. Unfortunately only works for Windows 95/98/ME.
  • storgrid from Vembu, is a RSYNC based backup system for networks
  • Synchronize It!, from Grig Software is a directory synchronization tool
  • Bacula, network backup system is mentioned here
  • SyncBackSE, from 2BrightSparks
  • HandyBackup
  • BackupAssist, for Windows
  • CleverSafe makes a dispersed storage system which might be used for backup purposes
  • Amanda, is an open source network backup system that requires the server run on Linux but it can backup Linux, Solaris and Windows clients. An enterprise version (with better support) is available. A positive comment on it.
  • g4u, is a free hard drive imaging tool that is based on a NetBSD boot CDROM
  • Terabyte Unlimited has some drive imaging tools
  • ViceVersa Pro from TGRMN Software
  • DVDisaster, this software provides an additional layer of error detection and correction for DVD media.
  • Engadget discusses using ssh and rsync to backup laptops
  • Jan-Piet Mens writes a bit about experiences with Bacula and has a small review of the book: Backup & Recovery, by W. Curtis Preston, ISBN 978-0596102463.
  • The Mac Time Machine may not behave just the way you would like when it runs out of space on the backup drive.
  • GridBackup (mentioned here, the code is here) is attempting to build a network-distributed backup system based on the allmydata distributed storage system. The idea is to allow a group of friends or relatives to do safe off-site backups to each others' computers.

More Info Needed

Need to research the Sarbanes Oxley, Basel II and SEC Rule 17a requirements to see how they affect backups in an office environment.

Some useful links

  • the CTape class in this WFC Win32 Foundation Class library provides access to the windows tape subsystem, also referenced here
  • MMPC tape drive API and conversion software
  • TapeIO for Windows NT a freeware tape driver
  • MTX SCSI Media Changer control program
  • Source forge's backup projects
  • setacl for windows
  • MSDN tape backup API info, also includes references to GetFileAttributes and SetFileAttributes
  • the win32fileDemo.py (under python/site-packages/win32/demo) contains examples of using the win32 file api which should be able to do the tape commands that the MSDN article describes.
  • command line utilities to burn CDRs from within windows (cdrtools-1.11a12-win32-bin.zip), from the GNUWin project's cdrecord page also should be able to burn DVDs. The freshmeat.net home page for the cdrtools project. Some more info on using these to backup to CDR. Another similar project to bring GNU Software to Windows. And The OpenCD which is another similar project.
  • A Slashdot discussion of long term document archiving
  • Starting Dec'06 certain US companies will have to keep long-term archives of all electronic correspondence, for these an archiving backup to DVD-R media of selected directories might be the way to go. More on how this may benefit some companies.
  • Selecting DVD media for long term archiving
  • A guide to who makes what DVD media, with rough quality classification (good, decent, questionable and garbage)
  • fwbackups, a user backup program written in Python
  • Slashdot discusses backup software for small offices
  • Slashdot discusses selecting a file system for use in archival data storage
  • par2 is a redundant parity archive format, with this you split a single file into a set of par files, place the individual par files on different pieces of media, then if one of the media pieces gets damaged the other par files still contain enough information to recreate the original file. Sort of a way of doing RAID-5, except with physical media like DVDs.
  • A paper called: Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population, by E. Pinheiro, W.D. Weber and L.A. Barroso of Google Inc. examines drive failure rates and correlates these with SMART data. This is discussed here on Slashdot. Two interesting conclusions are drawn: high operating temperatures have little effect (at least up to 40C or so), in fact low temperatures might be more harmful and once the SMART data shows a drive has experienced a failed sector (either in use or in the background scan) it is at elevated risk of failing in the next 60 days (up to about 39 times as high).
  • Another paper: Disk failures in the real world: What does an MTTF of 1,000,000 hours mean to you? gets discussed here and here. It also gets referenced here and discussed again on Slashdot. This study says that hard drive failure rates may be as much as 15 times what the vendors are claiming.
  • The problems with archiving digital media
  • Here's a good example of why you want some redundancy in your backups. The case of the Alaska Department of Revenue formatting the hard drive that contained the only copy of their records pertaining to a 9 month period of the Alaska Permanent Fund.
  • Even Hollywood has problems with archiving digital media, see: Digital proves problematic, with followup on Slashdot. They really need to go for a mix of off-line redundancy and on-line RAID.
  • Business 2.0 magazine lost a whole issue due to a failed backup system, discussed here on Slashdot.
  • Air conditioners might be the cause of increased drive failure rates that are observed during the summer months

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