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Content-based backup cuts PC storage needs

Eliminating redundant files reduces data volumes by up to 95%

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A new breed of content-based backup technology is on show at CeBIT. Designed for corporate PC networks, it can back up email and application data on individual PCs without requiring huge amounts of storage space on a server.

The idea is a simple one: if a file exists in several places, you only store one copy of it. This applies whether the file is a common Microsoft program, or a shared corporate document. Plus, when a file is altered, you only backup the changes.

"Lots of files are redundant, and eliminating those reduces the amount to backup by 95%, which makes it affordable," says Bob Brennan, the chairman and CEO of Connected.

He adds that it also allows an organisation to treat its PC disks as a reliable resource. This in turn means users can be permitted to store more email data locally, so the organisation requires fewer email servers.

Connected's DataProtector technology has been used for several years in remote backup services such as NetStore, as it allows a PC to be backed up over a modem link. Now the company has added EmailOptimiser which applies that same techniques to email attachments.

His company's client software is for Windows PCs only, but a Belgian competitor, DataCenterTechnologies, also supports Linux and Unix clients.

DCT's senior channel manager Marleen Bettens points out that content-based backup gets more effective the more PCs you have. "We are trying to educate users to a new view on backup. Most IT managers don't backup PCs because it is too difficult," she says. "We position it for organisations with 20 PCs and up, it's also very good for remote locations."

Files that never change are backed up only once as are identical files, thanks to metadata - data about data. Called DC-Protect, the DCT software fingerprints a PC and stores this metadata, allowing anything from file by file recovery by end users themselves, to bare-metal disaster recovery. ®

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