SonicWall combines automatic data archiving with off-site backup option

CDP 1440i offers choice between disk and data vault storage for application backups

We all know that we should back up our priceless data, but we always seem to forget just how valuable that data is until the next crash or stolen laptop. Another sticking point is that although off-site storage has become the de facto standard recommendation for most auditing agencies, the price of that personal salt mine for off-site media storage just hasn’t gotten any cheaper.

SonicWall’s new CDP 1440i is the first of what may be a new wave of personal and small-business automated backup solutions with optional off-site storage just a click away.

Designed to sit quietly on a bookshelf in the trusted network behind your SOHO or SOBO firewall, the SonicWall CDP 1440i is an SMB-backup solution just a bit bigger than my favorite Tom Clancy hardback. It’s also easy to set up. The two-step process is standard SonicWall fare, involving a one-time static network configuration through a browser.

However, the rest of the configuration can be completed only from a thick Windows Administrator client, which automatically installs a client whether you like it or not. (There is a client-only installation option available.)

I installed my review unit off the trusted interface of my firewall, but the CDP doesn’t have to be on the same subnet as the target workstations. I backed up documents multiple times through my SSL-VPN connection over my home cable modem connection and over my Sony Ericsson Edge modem. SonicWall just recommends that the initial “seeding” (first-time backup) of the backup be performed locally to avoid bottlenecking potentially slow remote connections.

SonicWall’s disk-based system is actually multiple backup systems in one. First, you can use it for traditional archiving of selected folders and files. Second, it can perform complete system backups and is licensed with varying numbers of bare-metal restore licenses for workstations and servers. The sleeper third option is a little check mark to turn on optional off-site backup.

Data is first sent locally to the CDP through an encrypted link for instant backup and recovery. Then you can choose to send all data, some data, or nothing to the off-site datacenter with the off-site service. Protection for your off-site data is done with an AES-256 bit encryption key created for each agent during installation.

Annual subscriptions are available in 5GB steps. You get an e-mail notice when you reach 80 percent of this hard cap so that you can either increase your subscription or start grooming out old versions. However, the hard ceiling is just that — don’t expect quick five-minute bursts to 105 percent when reorganizing.

The CDP Enterprise Manager Tool is where you set up policies to govern how much of the internal disk and how much of the off-site subscription each user can gobble up. Configuring the default policy gives the admin a chance to set up required applications and/or folders while still giving users the option to add additional items.

The CDP Agent Tool is the interface for users to add folders and/or applications within the scope of the policies defined in the Enterprise Manager. It is through the Agent Tool that users can find misplaced files with a truly flexible search tool and the ability to roll back their work to any of the versions backed up either on the internal disk or off-site.

It should be noted that the Agent Tool interfaces directly with MS-SQL and will back up logs, differentials, and fulls. It does the same thing with Microsoft Exchange, and neither SQL nor Exchange requires special agents.

The bare-metal restore option completes CDP’s data-protection arsenal. SonicWall’s Bare Metal/Local Archiving solution for servers and workstations is based on the True Image technology from Acronis. The CDP1440i I tested had a single bare-metal workstation license, but you can back up as many workstations as will fit on the internal 160GB disk and/or the off-site subscription. The icing on the cake is a surprisingly complete selection of standard reports to help keep track of off-site storage usage, disk usage by agent, through the now expected executive summary breakdown by file type.

My greatest hope for this product was to keep a constant backup of the e-mail and key folders on my laptop while traveling. SonicWall strongly suggests that you perform the initial seeding while on a network local to the CDP; of course, I just had to try it remotely, and yes, it sucked up just about all of my SSL VPN’s bandwidth. (As long as I followed SonicWall’s advice, I was able to keep a usable connection with the agent synchronizing on a hotel connection or over my Edge modem.) Because of that, I’d like to see this product include some sort of meter in the GUI that would clue me in to agent activity.

The smallest member of the CDP family, the 1440i is designed to grow with your SMB. Even if you just use the internal hard disk, you can still perform local automated backup and get a pretty darn nice restore system. Add the off-site storage, and you get a truly inspired end-to-end backup-and-restore system to help keep those pesky auditors at bay while retaining the smile on your CFO’s face.

In this article, the size of the SonicWall CDP 1440i's internal disk should have been 160GB. InfoWorld regrets the error, which has been corrected.

InfoWorld Scorecard
Setup (25.0%)
Security (25.0%)
Value (10.0%)
Manageability (20.0%)
Interoperability (20.0%)
Overall Score (100%)
SonicWall CDP 1440i 9.0 9.0 9.0 7.0 7.0 8.2