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I wanted to see if the CDP was really able to detect activity on my hard disk and write to the CDP device in real time. To do so, I devised a highly complex, sophisticated test. I created a new text file with a single sentence (called testfile.txt) and saved it in a folder being monitored by the SonicWALL Agent Tool. Then, I added a second sentence to my text file, saved it again, added a third sentence, and saved it again. 

Figure 7 is a screen shot from the SonicWALL Agent Tool Restore File Menu. You can see that there are three versions of the file. All three were automatically created on the CDP each time I saved my work to disk. Version 3 is the latest copy of the file with all three sentences. Version 2 is the second copy with two sentences and Version 1 is the original copy of the file with just one sentence. 

OK, so that wasn't all that complex or sophisticated of a test, but it did the job and verified the continuous backup functionality. In the event I was working on an important spreadsheet, presentation, or report, each version would be saved to the CDP, something that could be missed by a nightly backup.

Text file versions

Figure 7: Three versions of a changed text file

With continuous version backups, and my test CDP only having a 250GB Hard Drive, I was curious about the compression ratio being used to store data. SonicWALL does point out that this is a business class device. It isn't designed to back up MP3s, home movies, or huge stores of digital pictures, and the default profile will actually prevent storage of these file types. The CDP is intended to back up key applications, critical user files, and important data and emails. This explains how you could use this device for an office with 30 PCs and 5 Servers.

SonicWALL indicates the CDP runs overall data compression resulting in space savings of about 2-3.5X, depending on file types. To verify this compression, I looked at the Windows properties of eight folders on my laptop configured to back up to the CDP, and then looked at those folders' properties on the CDP using the Agent Tool. In both cases, right-clicking a folder and selecting properties provides the data. As you can see from Figure 8, the CDP actually compressed the data from my hard drive by about 4X. Overall, I backed up five PCs to the CDP and used about 33GB on the CDP.

Data compression chart

Figure 8: A chart showing the 2440i's data compression

Another useful aspect of the CDP is support for remote user laptops. Since the Agent Tool is connecting to the CDP via IP, any VPN connection that provides IP connectivity to the home office LAN should work. I was able to remotely send file updates from my laptop to the CDP located back on my LAN using the SonicWALL Global VPN Client software that connected to a recently-reviewed SonicWALL TZ190W.

In addition to file backup, the CDP will automatically back up application data, such as email. By default, it will monitor the default file locations for Outlook and Outlook Express and back up email folders on client PCs. In addition to email, SonicWALL provides backup support for key business applications including QuickBooks, Peachtree, ACT!, Goldmine, Great Plains, Solomon, and various Microsoft business applications. SonicWALL needs to update its software to support the new Vista Windows Mail, though.

The Enterprise Manager software is very useful for managing the CDP. Tools are provided that enable the network administrator to add/remove agents, configure application backups, define and configure policies, search and restore files, run reports, or configure alerts.

Policies enable configuration of storage limits and filters for client PCs, as well as defining folders you want backed up. The default policy limits each client to 80GB storage space as well as filtering backups of .mp3, .avi, and .mov files, as mentioned above. New policies can be created with different limits and filters, and the default policy can be edited as needed.

SonicWALL’s Report menu is a handy tool for the network administrator, providing nice displays on utilization and performance. Figure 9 shows the Executive Summary report, which lists file utilization by PC, as well as the top types of files stored on the CDP.

Executive Summary report
Click to enlarge image

Figure 9: The Executive Summary report

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