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Prepare for the worst: portable tape drives put the "recovery" in mobile disaster recovery.

WHEN YOU THINK "DISASTER RECOVERY" you probably envision floods, fires, earthquakes, massive damage, and downed servers. But, disaster recovery isn't just for big back-office servers any more. Highly skilled professionals are storing more data on their laptops, risking major losses in time and information if their notebook hard drive fails. Perhaps we aren't talking about disasters of biblical proportion; but, most executives faced with losing a laptop full of data will have a hard time thinking it's anything less than the end of the world. Luckily, a new generation of portable USB tape drives offers disaster recovery options that can dramatically improve data security for mobile professionals.

The burden of backup

Although portable backup solutions have been available for some time, they've always left a lot to be desired. One approach, for laptops that have them, is to simply use the extra bay and install a second hard drive. But, if the original drive is damaged or lost, chances are the back-up drive will also be unavailable.

External tape back-up solutions provide a much safer approach because users can pack them separately from the laptop. But, portable tape drives have generally lagged behind mobile back-up needs in both capacity and speed. An even stickier problem has been the limited bandwidth of the available laptop ports used to connect the tape drive. The parallel ports that provided the fastest connectivity just a few years ago were typically limited to 38,400 bits per second--in most cases, too slow for mobile backup.

USB 2.0 to the rescue

USB 2.0--dubbed "Hi-Speed USB 2.0" in the marketplace by the USB Implementers Forum--increases the speed of the peripheral to PC connection from 12 Megabits per second to 480 Megabits per second, or 40 times faster than USB 1.0. The higher bandwidth is a major boost for external peripherals such as CD/DVD burners, scanners, cameras, and hard drives. It also supports demanding PC applications that run multiple high-speed devices simultaneously; for example, digital image creation and Web publishing.

Microsoft has made USB 2.0 support available to OEMs and system builders, so PC manufacturers can ship Windows XP-based systems with the USB 2.0 drivers already loaded. In addition, Windows XP users can now get USB 2.0 support via Windows updates, enabling higher-speed and simple connectivity to a wide range of peripheral devices from cameras to music devices to storage devices, and more.

Travan solutions

The proliferation of USB 2.0 has opened the door for a new generation of lightweight, high capacity tape drives with all the features you need to provide a back-up solution for laptops and desktops. To provide the most complete disaster recovery solution and simplify the process of restoring both applications and data, the tape drive needs to be able to store all the information on the laptop hard drive. New drive formats such as Travan 40 that pack larger amounts of storage capacity into smaller packages are addressing this issue.

Travan is a highly durable storage format that uses high-capacity cartridges, making it a great option for notebook backup and storage. It exceeds industry standards for testing and qualification, making it a reliable data protection tool.

These new tape drives make it practical to equip an organization's mobile professionals with a back-up solution that travels with them. If a user drops their laptop and loses the hard drive, for example, rather than wasting a trip and losing important data, they can buy a new laptop, restore their data onto the new hard drive, and be fully productive in a couple of hours. The speed of the USB connection means users can normally do a full drive image backup while they're having dinner, or an incremental file backup while grabbing a quick breakfast.

The IT department is usually responsible for developing a standardized backup process and training users in its use. With the right tools in place, you can supply employees with a tape drive and cartridges. Don't overlook the important detail of implementing strict policies requiring employees to perform backups on a daily basis when they're on the road.

Options

Most back-up software provides two options: drive-image-level and file-level backups. Drive-image backups create an exact copy of the drive or partition that is being backed up. The drive image is restored exactly as it was when the back-up image was created. All applications are installed, all preferences and options are set exactly as they were, and all data files are in exactly the right spot. Because drive-image back ups are copies of the physical disk partition and work directly with the physical device, users can't selectively restore specific files or folders.

The alternative is a file-by-file restore. This option lets users restore specific files and folders, as opposed to the entire drive. Users can selectively back up and restore files, exclude specific file types such as hidden or system files, and back up and restore the Windows registry using file-level backups. File by-file backups also let you take advantage of incremental or differential back-up methods to reduce back-up time requirements. You can also use a file-by-file backup to restore a new computer to a near-perfect likeness of the one that was lost or damaged.

Speed makes a difference

With 480 Megabits-per-second throughput, the new USB specification offers plenty of bandwidth to handle today's fastest tape drives and enough headroom to handle faster drives for years to come. The latest USB 2.0 drives take advantage of that specification to offer the portability, capacity, speed, and low cost necessary to make it practical to ensure the productivity of every mobile professional, while at the same time preserving valuable intellectual property.

MOBILE BUSINESS BENEFITS

Many companies Invest a considerable amount of time and money in disaster recovery solutions for data center and departmental servers. But, the fact is a surprisingly high proportion of a typical company's most valuable data is scattered around the world on laptops. Data and applications are put at risk when a tired traveler trips over the power cord of their laptop, sending it crashing to the ground. The quick fix is for the user to buy a new laptop to avoid a productivity hit. But in most cases, a new laptop provides little Immediate value because the user doesn't have access to the applications and data they need until they return to the office.

Robert Hawkins is the director of product line management for DDS and Travan tape d rives at Seagate Removable Storage Solutions. His responsibilities include the development, approval and implementation of product, business, and marketing plans, and special channel incentive programs. Mr. Hawkins also aids in the development of sales strategies and is responsible for the achievement of sales revenues, unit order performance, and gross margin objectives for all channels on assigned products. His accomplishments at Seagate include the successful launching of the first external Travan USB tape drive and TapeStor DAT autoloader solution. Immediately prior to joining Seagate, Mr. Hawkins served as the senior product marketing manager at Simple Technology, Inc., and earlier as the channel business development manager at Paradise Multimedia Products (now part of Philips Semiconductors). He is a graduate of San Diego State University in San Diego, California. http://rss.seagate.com.
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Title Annotation:Storage & Backup
Author:Hawkins, Robert
Publication:Mobile Business Advisor
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 1, 2003
Words:1207
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