DigitaLifeline Business Continuity Services

One Of The Last Full Service Companies In A Self-Service World

Offsite backup, remote backup

Digital Fortress

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On-Line, Hands-On Remote Support

We do have the option of providing on-line support. We send you a special email message with a link and instructions. By clicking on the link, you will first be prompted to allow an ActiveX plug-in to be installed in your computer, and then to download and run one small executable program. The program contacts the server and waits for our support tech to connect to your computer.

Only our support tech can connect and only for this one session. You can watch everything the tech does and talk to them on the phone simultaneously if needed.

After the session is terminated, the program is removed automatically from your computer leaving nothing behind other than the ActiveX plug-in to save time if you ever need this type of support in the future.

This on-line, hands-on support option is only available for Windows users (most versions from W95 through 2003 supported) running Internet Explorer (version 5.0 or higher). Firefox and other browsers are not supported for this option.

Remote HelpClick on the Red "remote help" button to request Remote Help from Digital Fortress, only if you have been directed to do so by a Digital Fortress Support Technician. If the Digital Fortress Support Technician is not on-line, you will not receive any response.

Here are some of the Frequently Asked Questions we've been asked from time to time:

Question: Does the software provides the encryption key? How secure is the encryption? What happens if the encryption key is lost by the client?

Answer: Our clients create their own encryption keys. The software allows them to use encryption levels as low as 64 and 96 bits - we do NOT recommend these levels. We recommend either 128- or 256-bit encryption, and the use of strong pass-phrases, such as "I_liKe-2_uZe---paNosonIc_FaXX_machinEs!" If our client loses their key, they are in BIG trouble. We recommend that the pass-phrase be recorded on several pieces of paper, placed in sealed, tamper-evident envelopes, and distributed among several trusted officers and employees to prevent such loss.

Digital Fortress DOES NOT and WILL NOT ever have access to your data. The encryption starts on your computer, and your data stays encrypted while transmitted, and then while stored on our server.

We cannot read your data and do not want to read your data. If we were to be subpoenaed, we would be required to give the court a copy of your encrypted data, but would be unable to provide the key to unencrypt that data. Only you have the key to your data and that's the way we intend to keep it.

 

Question: Where and when will my data will be stored? Where and when do you back up your servers? What happen with my data if your data center is attacked or suffers a disaster?

Answer: We'll answer all three questions with one answer. Our clients' data will be stored first in our primary data center, and from there to our off-site secondary storage facility. If our data center is destroyed, your data is safe in our secondary facility.

We chose our location for our primary data center for the same reasons that other major corporations chose it. Stability. Stable power, stable weather. In 2007, Microsoft announced they would be building a new data center in this area, as had Lowes Hardware, Washington Mutual and Rackspace. Toyota recently built a new manufacturing plant nearby, showing their trust in this location.

We also have the ability to create local mini-data centers in distributed locations where needed to serve larger clients who need to backup and transmit extreme amounts of changed data, more than what their local Internet Service Provider can handle. Digital Fortress developed a solution for some clients who needed to backup close to 100 terrabytes of data, amounts which cannot be feasibly backed up over normal business connections.

 

Question: Who else uses your software?

Answer: The software which we use, is also utilized by the U.S. Airforce to backup their bases and locations from around the USA, on to computers in their data center located here in the same area of Texas where our primary data center is located.

 

Question: If I have several computers, do I need to have as many accounts as computers? Does it cost extra? Do the computers have to be networked?, What if they are not?

Answer: If you have several computers, and they are networked, then only one computer is required to have the Software Client program running on it, as it will be able to back up the other computers by viewing them as shared drives on the network.

If they are not networked, such as, say, 5 executives with laptops, each laptop would require the Software Client to be running on it.

We only charge by the total volume of data backed up, not by the number of Software Client installations.

NOTE - Let's say that the client's network is very large, say, 200 computers that have to be backed up. If we tried to have just one computer back up all 200 over the network, then we would be creating a choke-point. In that case, we would use the general rule that the maximum number of computers that a single computer could backup over the network would be 20, so 10 computers would need to have the Software Client installed. If the backups were still found to be running too slowly, we could change the ratio to, say, 5:1. In that case, there would still be no extra cost.

 

Question: Can multiple computers be backed up simultaneously?

Answer: Yes

 

Question: What happen if my computer stops or crashes during back up? And if the communication is interrupted during back up?

Answer: If your computer stops or crashes during backup, or communications are interrupted, the backup will be interrupted. However, when you installed the Software Client, you specified what action to take in the case of such interruption.

 

Question: Is there a limit on the number of files or GB backed up by a customer?

Answer: The only limit is what package you order.

 

Question: How often can I back up?

Answer: Generally, the regular backup is set to occur once a day, after the business has closed, but if there are files, such as a SQL database, that are critical, then they can be put into a separate backup set and backed up several times during the day.

Question: How many backup versions are held in your servers and for how long?

Answer: During the Software Client setup process, the customer specifies how many generations of data are retained. In theory, the data could remain on our servers forever, but after a certain amount of time, one would guess that the customer would either consider the data to be out-of-date and delete it himself, or ask that it be put into archival storage at a lower price per GB.

 

Question: How does the back up program handles open files?

Answer: Some open files, such as Microsoft SQL, can be backed up with no problem. Others, such as Quickbooks, require the installation of File Access Manager, which allows normally locked files to be backed up.

 

Question: Does your back up system works with different connections: Modem, DSL, Cable, LAN, etc.?

Answer: Any high-speed connection to the Internet will do, but we consider DSL or Cable to be the minimum preferred method.

 

Question: In case of Firewalls, does the client has to configure the firewall to allow the back up?

Answer: No, since all of the traffic is outbound. The Software Client initiates the backup process to our data center, rather than our data center reaching in through your firewall to grab data. This ensures higher security levels by not leaving extra ports opened in the firewall.

 

Question: Do you have a support line? Do you charge for support?

Answer: Our preferred method of support is e-mail, but if necessary, the customer can call us direct. However, our toll-free line may not support calls from outside the US. At this time, we do not charge for support. See our Contact Page.

 

Guidelines for Reusing Backup Tapes - Theory or Hoax?

Question: What are the guidelines around reusing backup tapes? How many times can I reuse a tape?


Dealer InquiryAnswer: First let us share with you a real true-life story. About a year ago, Digital Fortress reps visited a local (San Antonio, TX) customer on a sales call and their office manager proudly proclaimed that they didn't need our off-site backup services for their local offices because they had a tape backup system installed. Of course when we physically glanced at the tape backup unit, the inserted tape's label clearly said "MONDAY" but the actual date of our visit was "Wednesday".

We asked who was responsible for changing out their tapes? The office manager replied "Our receptionist is supposed to change it every evening before leaving, but she was on vacation this week." We suggested he change the tape while we were there, and asked him to allow us to inspect his backup log. The log revealed that they had not had a good backup in over 9 months. It seems they were reusing the same Dealerset of 5 tapes week after week after week. The tape's magnetic oxide coating had been worn completely clear.

Just more proof that simply having a tape backup system isn't sufficient in and by itself. If you don't have trained staff checking the backup logs to verify data backup and perform test restores on a regular basis, you might have a false sense of security.

Now the answer to your question. This is a highly disputed question. Let's start with the fact that tapesadvertise numbers like 30,000 passes before a tape should be discarded. One use per week might sound like it translates into 576 years (30,000 passes divided by 52 weeks). However, a pass is not the same as a use. A pass is the movement of a given section of media across a section of media. If you are sending less data to the drive than it wants (e.g., sending 20 MBps to an 80 MBps drive), then you're shoeshining. The more you shoeshine, the more you move the same part of media across the media multiple times. If you could figure out how many times you're shoeshining a given section of media, you could divide 30,000 by that number and have your answer.

Unfortunately, you'll never get that number, so it's really up to you. We know of one company who uses a fresh piece of media every time they does a backup. In our opinion, that's a ridiculous waste of a company's money, but perhaps they had a private money printing machine in the back room. We also know people that keep reusing their media without any tracking of the usage (see tru-life story above). That's quite risky. Based on the numbers above, we don't think anyone will reach the "real" life of their media on a regular basis, so we don't throw away media based on that. We would just throw away media the second it gives me a write error -- zero tolerance, and we do use our own off-site backup method to protect our our computers and our own data center servers, the ones that our clients have their data stored on as well.

Question: Does DigitaLifeline perform incremental backups?

Answer: Yes, after the first complete backup, DigitaLifeline will only backup the changed delta blocks of a changed file instead of re-backing up the entire file. This tremendously speeds up the backup process, reduces storage, and reduces bandwidth.

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Question: Does DigitaLifeline offer encryption and compression?

Answer: Yes, all data is encrypted and compressed before it leaves a computer. A built in advanced compression option, block level de-duplication, is also included in the DigitaLifeline client.

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Question: What is de-duplication?

Answer: De-duplication, also known as common file elimination, is the process of comparing blocks of one file to the other blocks on the DigitaLifeline server and only re-backing up blocks that aren’t already on the server. So, for example if you have 100 machines that are backing up calculator.exe (which has lets say 2 blocks), only the first machine will backup that file with the 99 others simply skipping the 2 blocks due to them already residing on the DigitaLifeline server. 

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Question: What happens if I have a large sum of initial data to move offsite? 

Answer: This is not a problem. DigitaLifeline allows the DigitaLifeline client to make an initial backup to local disk for later physical transportation to the offsite DigitaLifeline server.

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Question: Are my backups going to be fast?

Answer: Yes! Backups are multi threaded, use de-duplication, and compression to make your backups as quick as possible. In the case of extremely large backups, your backup can be spanned over several days only running for any amount of hours per day.

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Question: Are my restores going to be fast? 

Answer: Yes! Restores are handled very efficiently as the system is database driven. Select only certain data to restore, or all data across your network in a single restore operation.

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Question: Does DigitaLifeline work with a dial up connection?

Answer: Even though it is not recommended, DigitaLifeline does work with a dial up connection.

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Question: Does DigitaLifeline support Windows Vista?

Answer: Yes, DigitaLifeline supports Win 2000 +, including Vista

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Question: How does the DigitaLifeline client update process work?

Answer: When there is an update, the DigitaLifeline server administrator applies the hot fix to the DigitaLifeline server which will then auto update all its associated clients. There is no need to issue updates to clients that connect to the DigitaLifeline server manually.

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Question: What if my Internet connection goes out during a backup?

Answer: Not a problem. The DigitaLifeline client will automatically try to reconnect until the Internet connection is restored or as specified by the client. 

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Question: Can DigitaLifeline backup MAC, Linux and Unix?

Answer: Yes, DigitaLifeline can backup MAC, Linux and Unix if the DigitaLifeline client is installed on a Windows O/S. This is accomplished through FTP, FTPS, SFTP, or Samba.

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Question: Does DigitaLifeline backup MSSQL?

Answer: Yes, DigitaLifeline has the ability to backup hot MSSQL databases.

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Question: Does DigitaLifeline backup MS Exchange?

Answer: Yes, DigitaLifeline supports both full and mailbox hot backups.

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Question: Does DigitaLifeline support backing up open files such as in-use PST files (Outlook)?

Answer: Yes, DigitaLifeline’s ROBOfm supports the backup open, locked and in-use files. 

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Question: Does DigitaLifeline have the ability to manage multiple machines through one screen?

Answer: Yes, the DigitaLifeline client supports the ability to manage multiple machines on the same network through an advanced file tree that spans your entire network.

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Question: Does DigitaLifeline require that you install a separate agent on each networked machine?

Answer: No. DigitaLifeline was built as no-agent based system where all backups for a network can be performed from one screen.

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Question: Is the DigitaLifeline software built for corporate users or managed service providers?

Answer: Both! The DigitaLifeline software was built from the ground up to include both a corporate and managed service provider management utility, which makes operating the system a breeze.

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Question: What kind of hardware does the DigitaLifeline system require?

Answer: This really depends on how many users that you want the system to support. For more details, you can contact us by clicking here.

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