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A new way to backup

Sep 25, 20034 mins
Backup and RecoveryData Center

* RocketVault offers local and off-site storage in one package

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I’m always on the lookout for better backup options – products that are easy to use, resistant to user mistakes and provide easy off-site storage. Enter RocketVault, the first product from start-up IntraDyn.

RocketVault looks like a large brushed-aluminum shoebox. The box – a complete PC with all ports – includes 240G bytes of local disk storage, as well as back-up software. RocketVault backs up files locally and also sends copies of designated files to remote, off-site storage locations – a feature I haven’t seen before.

Pricing starts at $1,495 for a system with 240G bytes of local storage and jumps to $3,295 for 1 terabyte of local storage. Although not inexpensive, RocketVault is the first product to bring enterprise-class server back-up automation within the price range of small businesses. And if the Version 1.0 glitches I found are fixed for Version 2.0, IntraDyn will have a world-class product.

Installation is fairly simple. When you plug RocketVault into your existing network, it appears as any Windows file-sharing computer. It accepts an IP address from your DHCP server and appears as RocketVault in Network Neighborhood or My Network Places.

RocketVault’s Web-based administration utility is clean and well designed. Find the RocketVault system on your network and click on RocketControl.exe to start the control program. The device supports an unlimited number of users, files and network shares.

All administration screens are password protected. This ensures someone who knows the password must help restore files, and prevents users from doing their own restores – a mixed blessing. Files are stored not by user, but by Windows disk shares, which can be servers or PCs.

While clean, the administration interface isn’t intuitive. I had to refer to the manual (a pretty good one, luckily) several times to configure the backups for disk on the network. Once you have the right username and password for every disk share you can set the back-up schedule.

Backups are kept as long as you want, and each schedule asks how many weeks to keep each share. Incremental backups lessen the time and amount of network traffic after the first backup of each share. You configure backup “groups” for convenience. Each backup will handle all the shares you defined for that group, so if your network is large, you might put accounting shares in one group, sales in another, shipping in another and so on. Another option is to lump them all into one group and schedule, but you might prefer to save and store specific disk shares off site, in a separate group or groups.

IntraDyn offers off-site storage ranging from $49 per month for 5G bytes, moving to $259 per month for 50G bytes. But if you need less space and have extra on one of your Web servers, you can easily configure RocketVault to use those backup locations instead.

To test RocketVault’s performance, I saved 45 digital photos in a special network share location to my Web site. I gave the system the remote server name, user name and password, then scheduled the backup. Quickly and without a snag RocketVault pulled the photos from my computer over to its local hard disk, compressed them, used a 256-bit encryption key to protect them and shipped them up to my Web site. On my site, the files appeared as a RocketVault file, which required another perusal through the User’s Guide. (I thought checking the Restore All Files box was enough, but you also need to check Add Files to Restore). But once I figured out what to do, the files restored in only 17 seconds. RocketVault probably compared the files stored on the local disk and realized they were the same, but that shows some pretty intelligent programming.

I’d like the next version to be more intuitive, with the ability to store files on remote systems in non-compressed and non-secure mode so I could restore them myself. Rocket Vault’s proprietary backup format could be limiting, should the company fail and leave me stranded with files I can’t reclaim.