How to recover your 'unrecoverable' laptop
Backup solutions you can rely on
Compliance raises its ugly head - solution two needed
Failure to comply with regulations is the spectre that seems to lurk everywhere these days. Laptops frequently get stolen (or just left somewhere). Even more serious than no hardware recovery being possible is that, in this case, all the laptop's sensitive information could quickly move into the public domain.
Apart from this perhaps revealing sensitive competitive information, there could be major legal penalties for information going AWOL. For instance, the US Sarbanes-Oxley Act says that backing-up data is not enough protection (as this demonstrates), while the Data Protection Act's penalties on an organisation can be steep if, for example, client records "escape" into the public domain - leading to potentially huge fines.
CMS has another solution, ABS-Secure, to address this issue. In this case the SATA drives come factory-preloaded with CMS CE-Secure 256-bit AES encryption. Importantly, the information on the laptop is pre-encrypted before data is copied to it or any backup is done, and the contents of ABS-Secure always remain encrypted from then on. So someone subsequently trying to access the laptop is confronted with a GUI requiring an entry of a pass-phrase of up to 64 characters; likewise, if accessing the encrypted backup unit. So whether the laptop or the portable drive is stolen, a thief will not be able to make sense of the information itself.
Central control concerns and the backup push
One other small feature is worth mentioning since it tackles a problem common to most of us; namely, that we tend to neglect taking regular system backups. The BounceBack software includes a user-defined parameter of elapsed time since last backup after which it will keep reminding the user that a backup is overdue. Say this is set to three days. The message automatically appears if the user has not carried out a backup for three days; then, all the user has to do to make the message go away - until the next time - is to connect the backup unit and let it do a backup. This simplicity means that companies who have a large number of ABS users have discovered almost all of them happily keeping to good backup schedules. (This parameter can, by option, be set and controlled centrally for the whole enterprise).
Finally, I will mention here an unpublished bonus. A restore with this approach is effectively a reinstall for the operating system and files. Users often experience Windows desktops getting steadily slower over time with things like the registry getting clogged up so, for instance, a Bloor colleague has told me he re-installs Windows on his own desktop every six months so as to bring the speed back up; others recommend even shorter periods. The idea of avoiding this fiddly process and instead triggering an automatic restore from the ABS device appeals to me. (I hasten to add that I have not compared the two methods of reinstalling to see how the speed improvement compares.)
Partly because the device is so simple to use, it is easy to think of this as a consumer product rather than built primarily for the enterprise. This is not the case. The biggest benefit comes through its automated approach assisting workforce productivity and reducing the risks from corporate data loss.
CMS's BounceBack Enterprise solution is a recent addition. This adds the ability to monitor and control client device backups centrally and can save critical data to a central storage device in addition to the ABS unit, and so, for instance, can be used as part of a coordinated enterprise backup and DR plan. The success of the product is because it fills a need, making it simple to use. However, do not underestimate the behind-the-scenes complexity of the BounceBack software - and it is that which makes ABS unique at present.
Note: CMS ABS unit capacity is up to 250GB for laptops or 1TB for desktops. BounceBack supports Mac, Windows 2000, XP and VISTA versions.
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