These are the Super Tars: tar compatible, but capable of much
more. They are backup solutions that go beyond the builtin tar and
cpio. All of these are very similar, and although list prices vary,
the "street" price (what dealers usually sell them for) are just
about the same for all of them. Generally, you can get versions for
SCO, for Solaris, for Linux, and more.
THESE ARE NOT PROPRIETARY FORMATS. These are completely tar
compatible: if you had to, you could read their archives with
standard tar. They do MORE than standard tar, but they are
compatible. Even if you use their compression features (standard
tar has no compression), you could use standard Unix "uncompress"
on restored files.
That paragraph isn't entirely true anymore. These products have
changed and added more features. They still use a tar like format,
but maqy not be directly restorable with tar. You can ALWAYS freely
download a binary that WILL restore them.
The importance of running one of these on Unix/Linux systems
cannot be over emphasized. Most of us who support Unix systems
professionally INSIST that our customers use one of these
YOU CAN'T DUPLICATE THESE FEATURES WITH HOME GROWN SCRIPTS AND
STANDARD UTILITIES. If you clobbered together a bunch of open
source software and spent a long time working at it, you might come
close, but consider this: there are thousands and thousands of
engineering man hours in these products. They have built in support
for problems you have never even thought of. The products have been
field tested by thousands of users over decades of use and the
experience gained there goes right back into the engineering. Can
you match that?
All of the below use a similar base. Each vendor approaches the
backup system slightly differently, and while most features are
identical, specifics vary from time to time. Remember too that
these folks compete strongly with each other: a feature one lacks
today may very well be there tomorrow.
See Microlite BackupEDGE
and Lone-tar Version
for recent reviews of two of these.
Note: BOTH of those reviews are a bit old, so you REALLY need
to check out current specs from the vendors web page.
All of these are available for limited time period free trials.
You can download these trials directly from the web sites
What they do
- Backup everything, including device files, named pipes,
- Support for backing up raw partitions and sparse files
- Support for file locking
- Intelligent support for media errors (both disk and tape)
- Non-proprietary compression optional
- Backup across the network
- Use multiple tape drives
- True bit-level verification
- Menu driven operation
- Point and click restores (assuming GUI available)
- Tape labeling
- Tape indexing for fast restores
- Boot recovery diskettes that can recreate disk partitions and
divisions for simple restore without reinstallation.
There is more: see the web pages above for detailed
Be very careful when comparing features- these
vendors leap-frog each other constantly. Don't assume that a
feature one of them didn't have last month isn't in there now- it
Can you do all this yourself with cpio and some scripting? Sure,
most of it anyway, but it won't be as neat and clean, it won't be
as fast, and this stuff is not expensive: the street price for
these is usually under $300.00 including the crash recovery
features (sometimes priced separately).
There are even personal use versions available for about
But if you need support for sparse files, or raw partitions, or
need very fast individual file restore, then you'll definitely
spend more than $300.00 worth of your time getting these features,
assuming you have the necessary skills at all.
Moreover, these are much simpler to use. I've actually had
non-technical customers restore crashed hard drives by themselves,
I strongly suggest that one of these should be installed on
every Unix system.
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