IBM software continually backs up files

Tivoli Continuous Data Protection is aimed primarily at mobile workers

IBM will release new software next month for automatically backing up files on laptop computers. The product will be aimed primarily at mobile workers and is intended to protect data in the event that files are accidentally deleted or become corrupted, or if a laptop is stolen, IBM said.

Called Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files, the software creates a local backup copy of files each time changes are made, said Steve Cliff, a U.K. regional sales manager for IBM's Tivoli storage software. When the laptop is connected to a network, via a Wi-Fi connection, for example, the software also backs up the data to a remote server.

The product will join an emerging field of so-called continuous data protection (CDP) products. Other vendors include Storactive Inc., of Marina del Rey, California, and startup Lasso Logic, in San Francisco. In addition, Veritas is currently beta-testing a CDP product called Backup Exec Panther.

Still, IBM claims its product is a novel one. Some other systems require a dedicated server to monitor and store file changes, the company said, while others back up files only periodically, every hour or so, rather than continually.

IBM is aiming its product at both large and small businesses. While IBM is marketing it primarily for laptops, it also works on desktop PCs and enterprise file servers. It will be available via Internet download from Sept. 16 and on CD the following month, priced at $35 per laptop or desktop and $995 per server processor, IBM said.

Most businesses today are focused on backing up their file servers and databases. However, laptop use has become more widespread in recent years, and increasing amounts of corporate data are stored on those machines, making it important to back up that data as well, Cliff said.

The software is reasonably priced and could prove popular, particularly among IBM's existing Tivoli Storage System customers, according to Mike Karp, senior analyst at Enterprise Management Associates, of Boulder, Colorado. "It spreads a lot of much-needed data protection out to the desktop, and particularly to laptops," he said.

The software can be set to back up all files, including Word, Excel and MP3 files, or to create backups only for particular applications and files, IBM's Cliff said. Users can choose where the local backup file is created. That can be done on the laptop's hard disk, or on a removable storage media such as a CD or USB (Universal Serial Bus) memory device, he said.

Applications typically record file changes frequently, even when users are not constantly saving their work. IBM's software records and time-stamps those discrete changes. When problems arise, users can go back and recover files at whatever point seems appropriate.

The software will be available initially for Windows, with Unix versions to follow within about six months, IBM said. The company will translate the software into other languages besides English later in the year, and it supports double-byte character sets.

The software was developed at IBM's labs in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and makes use of 10 technologies for which IBM has applied for patents. They have to do with capturing continuous changes to data and backing up those changes remotely, IBM said.

The CD will take users through the steps of deciding where the data should be saved on the laptop and configuring the remote server to receive copies. The product can be used on a stand-alone basis or with Tivoli Storage Manager, IBM said.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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