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The next big thing in backup

May 12, 20033 mins
Backup and RecoveryRouters

DVD backup and archive systems will become widespread before long.

DVD backup and archive systems will become widespread before long

Last time we looked at a product that backs up your data files to read and write DVD disks (DVD-RW). Now, let’s go a step further and explore DVD archiving.

Assured Solutions contacted me after reading an earlier column in which I mentioned DVD as a backup medium. Based in Dallas, the three-person virtual company (all office procedures go through a Web portal they programmed) sells backup and archive solutions to graphics departments in large companies and advertising agencies.

Assured’s Auto-Bot software process watches a company network and grabs each new file or file modification, then writes it to a DVD burner in a dedicated archive server the firm puts onsite. Assured customizes each system, but the real value comes in tracking the captured data.

The system integrates its archive reports into a client’s digital asset management system, making it easier to find and reuse work. Advertising departments in particular are notorious for generating thousands of assets (mostly graphics), losing them and recreating them. Assured Solutions creates paper and digital indices of all captured images and documents, tracks the DVDs in a carousel drive attached to the archive server and fetches files quickly on demand.

The installations are pricey because of the customized software, hardware and integration involved. On average, they run more than $30,000, but customers can make that up pretty quickly by eliminating lost images and rework. Assured is also working on an Internet-based version, which will offer more features, reduce some costs and offer revenue possibilities to customers by making it easier to license archived images to other companies.

If you want to take on this archiving project yourself, the DVD writers and changers Assured uses come from PowerFile. The company sells through integrators and dealers. However, if you go this route, you’ll likely need some help from a firm like Assured to best utilize the high-end optical storage library products.

For now, smaller network-attached DVD servers remain the province of niche manufacturers, resellers and consultants. One such vendor is Advance Media Services. Your local dealer may be able to build you a system because the technology isn’t much different from the read-only CD towers that have been around for years. To find others, do a search on some combination of “optical storage library network software.”

If you want to stay with one or two DVD writers on a personal computer acting as your backup manager, invest in a DVD burner (around $300), some blank DVDs ($1 to $2 each), and some intelligent backup and archive software. Internal models will always be cheaper than external models, but external units make it easy to backup multiple non-connected systems. Software may or may not be included with such drives, so be prepared to buy it separately. Even if software is included, specialized backup and archiving software will provide more control over resulting backups and be worth the extra money.