Best of open source software awards: Storage

Bossie winners for network and online backup, NAS server, file and directory comparison, disk monitoring, and storage administration

The InfoWorld Bossies are chosen annually by Test Center editors, analysts, and reviewers. The winners represent the best free and open source software we've used. As always, our picks for the best of open source storage was led by senior analyst Mario Apicella.

Got an open source favorite we missed? Please send us a note.

Network Backup


Amanda provides a way to back up a variety of enterprise data sources and applications, supporting multiple flavors of Unix and Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X. Amanda can encrypt data in transit from client to server, or encrypt data at rest on tape or disk or both simultaneously. Because the software doesn't use proprietary device drivers, it can work with any device supported by the host operating system. And it stores information via native dump or tar utilities, allowing it to be reconstructed even without the Amanda client. Storage Server


Even as the capacity of physical disks soars, storage vendors continue to charge a small fortune for network filers. An open source alternative on the lower end is FreeNAS, which has support for CIFS, NFS, rsync, SSH, iSCSI. and FTP, as well as software RAID. It can handle several authentication methods (including local, Active Directory, NIS, and RADIUS), and sports a Web GUI, all while taking less than 32MB after installation. This means you can use it on USB keys and portable hard drives. It’s also available in the form of a VMware appliance. Online Backup

Free Online Backup

At the office your backup procedures protect users’ data from disk drive crashes and other disasters, but can you offer the same reassurance when your users are traveling? Free Online Backup promises a similar level of protection through the use of a simple script that identifies which files have changed and beams them to the corporate network. The backup target is an FTP server that you must provide. As long as Web access is possible, mobile users can capture data changes and store them safely behind the corporate firewall while on the road. File Management


If you ever need to find the differences between two apparently identical files or seemingly cloned directories on a Windows system, WinMerge can be a huge timesaver. WinMerge binary comparison can tell if two files are identical regardless of their format. Moreover it can pinpoint differences, line by line, for test files such as scripts, program code, and system logs. The clarity of its instant reports and the ability to swiftly move the focus of the comparison up and down the directory tree should satisfy even the most demanding critics. Disk Monitoring


Disk drives have been around for more than 50 years, and so have data errors. That’s where the SMART Monitoring tools, or smartmontools for short, come to the rescue. These two tiny applications, Smartctl and Smartd, can interact with the SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology System) features of modern drives and controllers, and extract a reassuring “all’s well” or confirm the suspicion of degraded media and error conditions. More important, smartmontools can alert admins to creeping damage before data corruption occurs. Available for just about any OS, these tools are a great complement to servers’ built-in features. Storage Administration


This beta version of StorageIM offers an easy to install and easy to use client capable of discovering and reporting the status of machines compliant with the CIM and SMI-S management standards. StorageIM will automatically install a MySQL database to store details of each discovered device and an Apache server to support the administrative GUI. At this stage StorageIM may not provide an answer to all storage management questions, and it could benefit from an online help system, but the developers are accepting suggestions on features to include in future versions.