December 19, 2000, 3:08 PM — With server failures a frightening part of life in any computing environment, the only option for network professionals is a good defense.
Aelita Software is trying to help build that defense with the release last week of ERDisk 4.0, a utility for backup and recovery of Windows-based servers and workstations, including NT and Windows 2000. ERDisk is similar to Microsoft's utility for creating recovery disks, but it can automatically update recovery files and perform repair operations remotely over a network.
In addition, recovery files can be copied to a network drive or CD-ROM, therefore eliminating storage limitations of diskettes and allowing for complete backup of recovery data.
The copying options will be important for users of Windows 2000, which has the ability to update system configuration and registry data but cannot copy that information. "Enterprises with lots and lots of NT servers have boxes and boxes of repair disk floppies, and there has to be a better way," says John Kretz, president of Enlighten Point Consulting Group in Phoenix. "It's good to see new tools that make it easier and automated."
The newest version of ERDisk includes an Emergency Repair Console, a central location for copying system configuration files and Windows Registry data. The repair console agent copies data in parallel from all network servers. Creating recovery disks for 60 servers takes approximately 30 minutes, according to Aelita officials. In contrast, the Windows NT RDisk feature for creating recovery disks forces administrators to collect data manually from each server.
The console also acts as an "emergency room" in which administrators can remotely repair downed servers. The console's command-line interface allows full access to server volumes mounted during boot-up. Aelita also has added a feature called Computer Collections, which lets administrators group servers by type, location, time zone or other parameters. The collections can be used by ERDisk's Scheduler feature to ensure that the groups are updated on the same timetable.
"This is not a replacement for a full backup, but ERDisk can restore systems in minutes while backup can take hours," says Ratmir Timashev, president of Aelita.
ERDisk is available now and is priced at $60 to $100 per machine, depending on the number of machines.