Highly Reliable Systems: Removable Disk Backup & Recovery


Monthly Archives: August 2013

ChannelPro Reseller Promotion

August 20th, 2013 by

logo

Highly Reliable Systems is the leader in network and direct connected removable disk backup.  Become a reseller and get special ChannelPro pricing for 1 year, along with a great one time dealer demo price.

Use Promo code “ChannelPro” by Sept 20th and get: 

Price

HR premier MT REFLCT

2 Bay Premier with 4TB and Automatic Mirroring Technology

1) Automatic upgrade to Silver pricing level for 1 year (20% discount typical on backup gear)
2) A dealer demo 2 bay premier backup including 2 removable drives (4TB of storage) for only $439. Includes USB3 and eSATA connections.  Supplies are limited. Carrying cases, warranty upgrades, and controllers sold separately.

Mirroring allows 2 copies of every backup no matter what backup software you use. Maximize software compatibility and data protection at the same time.

To get started. fill out our easy 1 page reseller agreement.  Call us at(775) 329-5139 (Pacific Standard Time).  Ask your rep about our ChannelPro promotional price on the ethernet connected NetSwap Plus version with mirroring and NAS to NAS replication. (releasing soon).

Highly Reliable Systems provides viable hardware alternatives to USB drives or for private cloud backup when cost, security, or bandwidth make sending all data to a cloud provider impractical.  We also have larger RAIDFrame systems with removable RAIDPacs up to 12TB and roll your own BDR products.

Posted in Blog

How to Seed Your Initial Cloud Backup

August 15th, 2013 by
SpeedSeed2

How SpeedSeed works

If you’re an IT professional, you’ve realized that cloud backup is a great way to get data offsite.  But you’ve probably also realized that it can take weeks or months to get large data sets “seeded” to the cloud.  The normal method is to use a USB drive to copy the data onsite, and then ship that (or drive it) to the data center.  We’ve thought a lot about this problem and come up with SpeedSeed™, a method of cutting down on the amount of time this takes.  With that in mind, let’s talk about how to seed your initial cloud backup.

SpeedSeed™ takes advantage of another of our technologies called AMT.  The NetSwap Plus and RAIDFrame Plus appliances can mirror their storage drives (or any removable drive) to any other removable drive automatically and without intervention.  We call this “Automatic Mirror Technology” (AMT) and it provides better protection for most backup software by transparently providing a redundant copy of data.

Seeding the Cloud -The Old Way
Day 1:  NAS is installed on network, the backup job is setup to go to NAS that night.
Day 2:  Technician goes to client, plugs in seed drive, start it copying from NAS
Day 3:  Technician returns to client, unplugs seed drive (which has now finished copying if there are no errors), go back to the office, pack it up, then goes to FedEx or UPS and drop it off.
Day 4: Drive arrives at datacenter.  They plug drive in, Tech has to remote in and start copying.
Day 5: Copying is finished, and Tech can then start the backups replicating over the Internet.

Seeding the Cloud -The SpeedSeed™ Way
Day 1:  NAS is installed on network, backup job is setup to go to NAS that night. Automatic Mirroring Technology (AMT) is turned on so that removable drive gets a duplicate copy.
Day 2:  Technician goes to client, uses SpeedSeed™ function, unplugs removable drive.  No need to copy since it is already in sync. Sends drive offsite.
Day 3:  Removable drive arrives at datacenter.  They plug it into their High-Rely storage device and use SpeedSeed™ function.  This flags the removable as the primary drive in the mirror.  Tech can start replicating changes over the Internet in minutes.  No need to wait for copy.

Not only does this trim 2 days off the time, it saves considerable technician time and effort as well.  On Day3 using the SpeedSeed technique to retain redundancy the NetSwap or RAIDFrame system begins updating the mirror in the background.  This process does not slow down the ability to begin replication immediately.

What about the flip side?  Let’s assume a client’s server is stolen or destroyed (along with their backup drive).  We know it will take way too long to restore from the cloud.  We need them to ship us a physical drive!

Restore from Datacenter – The Old Way
Day 1:  Technician realizes server and local backup have been destroyed.  Calls Data center to get a copy of data.
Day 2: The datacenter gets a USB drive and plugs it in.  Technician starts remotely copying the backups to it.
Day 3: The copying is done, the datacenter packs up the drive, and gives it to FedEx or UPS to ship  back.
Day 4: The drive arrives, probably in the afternoon.  Start restoring the data, which probably wouldn’t finish until…
Day 5: The restore is done and tech can then start up the replacement server.

Restore from Datacenter – The SpeedSeed™ Way
Day 1:  Technician realizes server and local backup have been stolen.  Calls Datacenter to get a copy of data. Since Datacenter uses High-Rely device with AMT, they pull the mirror and ship it.
Day 2: The drive arrives. Plug in and use SpeedSeed function.  Start restoring the data from NAS to the server just a few minutes minutes later.
Day 3: The copying is done, tech can then start up the replacement server.

By the way, restore can be speeded up even more by installing the removable drive into a low cost slimline or one of our other DAS devices and plugging it straight into an eSATA or USB3 port on the server.  DAS connections usually have a slight speed advantage over NAS and a few hours can make a big difference in a server down emergency.  The system can even be designed in such a way that it is up and operating within minutes of installation of the SpeedSeed from the data center in.

Posted in Blog

Removable iSCSI for Backup

August 14th, 2013 by

iSCSIPerhaps one of the more confusing terms in networking is iSCSI (pronounced eye-SKUZ-ee). The acronym iSCSI is for Internet Small Computer System Interface.  Most people think of SCSI as a type of hard drive, or a physical interface for a particular type of hard drive. This leads to confusion because iSCSI isn’t a physical interface.  iSCSI is a software protocol used for sending hard drive data over IP networks.  So to physically connect an iSCSI device, you use an Ethernet cable.  When using removable iSCSI for backup, think of iSCSI as an “extension cord” for a hard drive.  It allows you to take a hard drive that would normally be physically inside your machine and put it across the network inside another machine.  The protocol then allows you to “speak” to the remote hard drive at the block level, as if it were local.  In some implementations you can even boot from a remote iSCSI drive!

The iSCSI hard drive “at a distance” is a little different than connecting to a “share” on a Windows server or NAS (Network Attached Storage). They both allow you to have storage at the end of an Ethernet cable.  The difference is the NAS share is (sometimes) slower, because the software protocol involves the upper layers of the operating system, including user/password authentication and permissions on the share.  By contrast iSCSI uses low level block transfer protocols, relying upon the connecting machine’s security.

Another key difference between NAS and iSCSI is that typically once you connect to a hard drive across the LAN with iSCSI that hard drive is unavailable to other machines on the network.  Sharing that same drive in NAS mode allows multiple machines to connect to the share simultaneously.  Confusingly enough, if you connect via iSCSI from one server and then “share” (or reshare if you prefer) the drive, other machines on the network can see it.  You can imagine in this scenario each access might require double traffic on the network.   One packet from the client would be sent to the “server”.  The server then has to send that packet using the iSCSI protocol to a second machine (i.e. the NetSwap Plus) that physically has the  drive.

iSCSI is generally considered a SAN protocol (Storage Area Network). So appliances that have this method of file sharing are sometimes referred to a SAN rather than a NAS.  The truth is, a SAN has much more functionality for managing and expanding storage than a NAS but the line has become somewhat blurred. If you have an Ethernet connected appliance, you can only tell if it is acting as a NAS (Network Attached Storage) or a SAN using iSCSI by looking at the software.  The physical connection is identical.

Highly Reliable Systems is one of the only vendors that provides iSCSI connector software that manages iSCSI for removable drives.  The software reconnects upon drive removal and when coupled with our media management software (HRDM2) drives can be automatically “re-shared” at the client side after a drive swap.  Since media are removable, each drive in the NAS must be designated as either iSCSI or NAS for the entire drive.

iSCSI connectivity often gets around domain security issues, and in our implementation, is faster than a NAS share. You can format the hard drive as if it were a local Windows drive, providing maximum compatibility and speed.

 

Posted in Blog

Incremental Replication over the Internet

August 6th, 2013 by

Replication Information for NetSwap Plus

NetSwap Plus

NetSwap Plus

Executive Summary
Highly Reliable Systems (HRS), has added bi-directional incremental replication over the Internet to their NetSwap Plus removable drive Network Attached Storage (NAS) backup appliances.  The feature will also be available in certain network connected RAIDFrame models.  A Netswap Basic edition is available without replication.  A key differentiator of  these compared to typical NAS products is the inclusion of removable drive(s) as well as functionality to mirror internal storage to the removable drive so that 2 copies of data can be managed and maintained.  The removable drive can be transported for storage off-site or can be used to “seed” a remote location with up to 4TB of data per drive.  Once seeded, uni or bi-directional replication can then be used to keep the remote site(s) up to date.

Unlike backup appliances that require monthly fees, NetSwap products can be placed in any location, such in a second office, with a managed service provider, or even at an owner’s home.  Replication over the Internet is incremental  so only changes are replicated.  Integrated compression and encryption insure the Internet is efficiently used and that customer data is protected without requiring external VPN tunnels.  Encryption levels up to AES 256 are supported. Synchronization jobs can be throttled and scheduled so that Internet connectivity is not bottlenecked during working hours.

Simple port forwarding is used to allow Netswaps to see each other over the Internet and low cost dynamic DNS services are supported so that no static IP addresses are required. The NAS appliances support multiple replication jobs and can notify administrators with e-mail alerts upon the success or failure of a job.  The system detects open and changing files and makes sure replication occurs at a point in time using a snapshot to insure data integrity.

Netswaps groom off-site data on a set schedule, checking to make sure the data is readable and matches the source.  The appliance will join a Windows domain, and use NTFS formatting to allow removable drives to cross plug with the company’s line of USB3 products.  This allows simple emergency access to data from any Windows machine.

The replication features in the Netswap Plus product line utilize Rsync, which is a robust file replication engine that does intelligent block level incremental copies.

 Important Note:  In replication environments where files will be open and changing 24×7, the High-Rely “snapshot” feature can be used to track active file changes, providing integrity for the replication offsite.   When using this snapshot feature the worst case scenario would require having twice the space on the sending side of replication job as is required for your full data set.  For example, a very actively changing 1TB  data set might require up to a 2TB drive on the sending side of the replication to allow room for the snapshot. While doubling space is overly conservative in most cases, it should be considered in drive size planning.

Key Features

  • NAS to NAS and Windows to NAS support. No requirement for proprietary cloud services vendors or monthly fees.  There is also no restriction on using approved and compatible Windows Rsync Client to send jobs to Highly Reliable System’s hardware appliances.
  • Uni-directional or Bi-directional Sync jobs supported.
  • Intelligent support for incremental changes insures only changed blocks are replicated to remote side.
  • Replicate entire disks or do so by individual folders.
  • Multiple replication jobs supported.
  • Multiple locations supported.  Replication jobs can send data to several locations.
  • Static IP address not required.  Support for inexpensive dynamic DNS services including  dyn.com, easydns.com, dnspark.com, namecheap.com, and no-ip.com
  • Accept and arrange multiple incoming replication jobs into folders to allow multiple customers or locations to utilize one destination NAS appliance.
  • Replication can be scheduled to occur as frequently as desired (choosing frequency by minutes, hours, days, weeks, months).
  • Ability to replicate to additional local drives (used to support multi-bay devices), allowing copies on multiple media and supplementing the built in mirroring capability.
  • Ability to optionally encrypt replication jobs (AES 128, 256, RC4, DES, Triple DES), eliminating the need for VPN tunnels or other outside encryption.
  • Ability to optionally compress replication jobs (settable levels from 1-9)
  • Ability to throttle the use of bandwidth, using 3 user defined start/stop times to insure that end user Internet functionality isn’t impacted during business hours.
  • User adjustable retries – to manage and retry failures caused by Internet outages or other problems.
  • Support for maintaining file integrity, even if a backup or other file write is in progress to while replication is occurring (Snapshot functionality to freeze directory)
  • Push or pull replication jobs supported between local and remote sites.
  • Option to leave files deleted from source on the destination.
  • Log files kept on the appliance to allow administrator to monitor or troubleshoot replication jobs.
  • Continuous data grooming.  Data integrity is checked during each replication pass to insure destination files have not become corrupt.
  • Robust error recovery and reporting.
  • Notify administrator via email upon beginning, completion, or failure of a replication job.
  • User configurable connection ports (TCP 873, and 8873 are defaults) supporting all speeds of Internet connection.

Some key screen shots are shown below to demonstrate how some of these key features are configured.

Main Menu
Repl_SC1

Replication

Replication jobs can be set to do full disks or individual folders.  Multiple jobs can be setup on a single appliance.  “Snapshot storage” is available if there is a possibility that files on the NAS may be changing during a replication to insure a point in time snapshot is what is replicated.

Snapshots

If you anticipate doing backup jobs or writing to your NetSwap device while a replication is occurring simultaneously, you may wish to turn on the snapshot feature to help preserve file integrity of files being changed.

If selected, a read-only copy of the disk being replicated will be created that is frozen at the time the Replication Job starts using the Snapshot Storage to store any writes to the disk. The Snapshot Storage must be large enough to store all writes to the disk that will occur while the Replication Job is running or disk writes will fail once the storage is full. The safest way to know there is enough space on the Snapshot Storage disk is to use a disk with a capacity greater than or equal to the capacity of the disk being replicated or create a Snapshot Reserve that is equal in size to half the capacity of the disk.

The Snapshot Storage disk may either be an entire disk that is not shared or a disk that has been formatted with a Snapshot Reserve greater than 0. If an unshared disk is used, data on the disk will be destroyed.

repl2

Bandwidth Management

Compression levels of 1-9 are supported.  Compression is typically helpful for transferring larger files that are not already compressed (not video or mp3s, for example). Stay away from compression with things like .jpg files.  Also for small files you may find that compression slows down instead of speeding up transfers.  Most people find removing compression makes things faster on a LAN.  Also note that some ISPs, such as Comcast have features built into their services that provide an initial “power boost” for a few seconds to speed up file transfers, then are quickly throttled down to “normal” levels. In this case your bandwidth test with the ISP may not last long enough to show your “true” long, sustained available bandwidth.

repl3

 

Note: Global options allow you to control several advanced things such as whether replication will delete a file that has been removed from the source on the destination side (or keep it at the destination).

Scheduled Replication

Schedule replication with a wide variety of options

Schedule replication with a wide variety of options

Encryption
Many replication appliances and some software require a tunnel or VPN to be setup using expensive routers. With the NetSwap Plus, encryption can be done box to box, eliminating the need for expensive VPN routers.

Email Alerts
An email can be sent upon the beginning, completion, or failure of a replication job.  Many other options for emails exist, such as notifying when an end user does a drive swap or when the device is finished with a remirroring job.

Dynamic DNS

Each Netswap can be configured to register with popular Dynamic DNS services so that replication and other features can be used on a DSL or other inexpensive Internet connection that doesn’t have a fixed IP address.  Currently supported services include dyn.com, easydns.com, dnspark.com, namecheap.com, and no-ip.com

 

 

Encryption is built in

Encryption is built in

repl6

Repl7

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Blog

Removable Drive and Replication in one Backup Appliance

August 6th, 2013 by
Replication2

Up to 5 replication targets on NetSwap Plus, more on other models.

Highly Reliable Systems, based in Reno, Nevada, has added replication to their NetSwap and RAIDFrame removable drive Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliances. Intended for backup, these products provide removable drive and replication in one backup appliance. Replication is block level, incremental, encrypted, and scheduled.

The Netswap Plus and RAIDFrame NAS appliances can also mirror between internal and removable drives, providing 2 copies of local data at all times. The mirrored drives can be pulled while keeping the primary drive online, allowing almost any backup software to be used, since drives don’t appear to go offline during drive swaps. The removable drive can be transported for storage off-site or can be used to “seed” a remote location with up to 4TB of data per drive (12TB on RAIDFrame models). This feature is being called speed seed. It can be used even without an Internet connection or to supplement slow connections where full backups are too large to replicate in a timely fashion. Once seeded, uni or bi-directional replication is used to keep the remote site(s) up to date.

Unlike backup appliances that require monthly fees, NetSwap products can be placed in any location, such in a second office, with a managed service provider, or even at an owner’s home. Replication over the Internet is incremental and block level so only changes are replicated. Integrated compression and encryption insure the Internet is efficiently used and that customer data is protected without requiring external VPN tunnels. Encryption levels up to AES 256 are supported. Synchronization jobs can be throttled and scheduled so that Internet connectivity is not bottle necked during working hours.

Netswap products are available with 1, 2, or 4 removable drives and an 8 drive model is expected to be released in September 2013. The same replication functionality has been added to the RAIDFrame product line with up to 48TB of removable storage. Thomas Hoops, CTO for Highly Reliable Systems says the appliances are configured with any browser.  “Simple port forwarding is used to allow Netswaps to see each other over the Internet and low cost dynamic DNS services are supported so that no static IP addresses are required.” Hoops also said the NAS appliances support multiple replication jobs and can notify administrators with e-mail alerts upon the success or failure of a job. The system detects open and changing files and makes sure replication occurs at a point in time using a snapshot to insure data integrity.

Netswaps groom off-site data on a set schedule, checking to make sure the data is readable and matches the source. The appliance will join a Windows domain, and use NTFS formatting to allow removable drives to cross plug with the company’s line of USB3 products. This allows simple emergency access to data from any Windows machine.

Important Note:  In replication environments where files will be open and changing 24×7, the High-Rely “snapshot” feature can be used to track active file changes, providing integrity for the replication offsite.   When using this snapshot feature the worst case scenario would require having twice the space on the sending side of replication job as is required for your full data set.  For example, a very actively changing 1TB  data set might require up to a 2TB drive on the sending side of the replication to allow room for the snapshot. While doubling space is overly conservative in most cases, it should be considered in drive size planning.

Posted in News