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Microlite BackupEDGE SS Release 01.02.00

© September 2001 Tony Lawrence
September 2001
Microlite has taken a major step forward with this new version of their time honored backup software.

This is, by the way, the first version since 1995 where there has been any charge for upgrades- and even now, the charge is very reasonable (approximately $100.00 for an upgrade from 01.01 versions). For new installations, Microlite offers a reduced price ( $90.00 US) for a personal use, non-commercial installation. The non-upgrade commercial Intel Unix version has a suggested retail of $300.00. Given the new features available here, I think it would be worth paying that for just the upgrade!

To my mind, one of the most important features in this release is support for Re-writable DVD-RAM drives. With BackupEDGE SS, this inexpensive, high capacity (4.7 GB native, appx. 9 GB compressed) media can be bootable and contain the complete recovery tools in addition to the backup itself. No more wondering if floppies are still bootable, no more worrying about a tape snapping. I've started using DVD-RAM for my own personal machine, and I can tell you it's just plain wonderful.

Of course, there's a lot more. The installation process has seen extensive work. Most devices are now detected and configured completely automatically (though you retain full ability to change parameters or manually add devices, of course). There is full, context sensitive help available at all points of the install, and of course after the install also. I can't say that that I pressed F1 (the help key) at every point in the program, but where I did, the supplied text was to the point and actually helpful.

The installation and actual use menus are the same CHARM-like interface as used by Scoadmin in character mode. I still don't like that interface, but I suppose it's good to be consistent, and the addition of context sensitive help will be appreciated by non-SCO users who have never seen this interface before. At least it's not slow like the Scoadmin interfaces.

Wildcards are now supported for backup, restoring, and excluding files. This is a welcome change. There is also a new point and shoot restore interface on the menu; this will be a big help for non-technical users- they can just find their file and restore it by pointing at it. The command line restore is much improved: for example, suppose you are sitting in /tmp and accidentally erase the "IMPORTANT" file that you really need. All it takes is "edge.restore -f yourbackupdevice IMPORTANT". The restore assumes that you must want /tmp/IMPORTANT so that's what it goes and gets. If you have indexed the media, it will find it and restore it in a matter of seconds- almost instantly from DVD-RAM or other random access devices.

That "IMPORTANT" file can be a directory, of course, and the command line restore will go get the entire thing. Even better, wild cards work too- even when "IMPORTANT" is gone- the wildcards are matched against the archive (of course that requires that the shell hasn't already expanded them, so single quote wildcards: edge.restore -f drive0 'IMP*').

BackupEDGE has had Fast File Restore (indexing of tape and using fast seek positioning to advance quickly to the proper spot) for some time now. Fast File Restore is smart- it decides automatically (based on tape position) if the quickest access is to do a fast seek or just a normal read- this means it never has to rewind the tape. But for CD-RW and DVD-RAM media, they now have an Instant File Restore [tm] ; this is possible when the devices are capable of true random access seek.

A new feature for backups is the concept of Schedules and Jobs. This is fairly complex, but don't worry- it's still very easy to create a basic nightly backup. However, it's now possible to create much more complex schemes, defining different jobs that may back up different data, use different media, or use Incremental or Differential selection of files. Additionally, scheduled background jobs can be selected to be run from the menu interface, and the status of those jobs can be viewed at any time. I particularly like this because it lets an un-trained operator do a manual backup without being exposed to questions that they may not understand.

The new Jobs capability means a slight change to the lists on disk, also. Under /usr/lib/edge/lists you'll find new subdirectories for each job you create. There will also be a "menu" subdirectory for backups, listings and restores run from the menu interface. The names of the files created have also changed somewhat; here's my /usr/lib/edge/lists/menu directory:

-rw-r--r--   1 root     sys      25438708 Sep 16 13:11 backup_master.log
-rw-r--r--   1 root     sys         2029 Sep 16 15:51 changedfiles_master.log
-rw-------   1 root     sys           31 Sep 16 13:11 exclude_files.lst
-rw-------   1 root     sys           30 Aug 28 07:58 ffr_list.dat
-rw-------   1 root     sys            2 Sep 16 12:04 include_files.lst
-rw-r--r--   1 root     sys      5792485 Aug 28 15:11 listing_log
-rw-r--r--   1 root     sys          641 Aug 28 07:58 restore_master.log
-rw-r--r--   1 root     sys      24010023 Sep 16 16:44 verify_master.log

I like that much better than the previous "Last_Master" etc. that was so hard to type or access with wildcards.

Of course, crash recovery is still an important feature. As mentioned above, the recovery tools are now possible to put on bootable DVD-RAM media. Additionally, ODBR tape boots, CD-RW and the traditional floppies are also supported. Recovery tools can be run from network or modem connections (which means that a knowledgeable technician can control a recovery remotely when necessary), and can access archives on other machines over the network. There's a "root-only" restore option that could save a lot of time in many crash situations.

For really large data sets, over-run backup devices can be specified, and of course autochangers (tape juke boxes) are supported. Optical autochangers/towers are also supported.

There are versions for SCO (Openserver and Unixware), Linux, and many other Unix platforms.

As always, you can download a demo copy from https://www.microlite.com and you can buy new or upgrade product directly from Microlite, from A.P. Lawrence, and from many of the folks listed at the Consultants page.

Got something to add? Send me email.

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-> Microlite BackupEDGE SS Release 01.02.00

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Great product!! I have had a few minor problems but when I emailed BackupEDGE support they responded within minutes. Great product and great support.

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