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Making Tape Backup Less Of A Remote Nightmare

Due to ship this week, WebDrive Sync Engine lets people enter a password on the Web, click on a file icon, and witness all the time-stamped changes they've made to their files.
Tape storage has never been much help to remote workers who need to retrieve information from the day before. Retrieval could take hours. Punch Networks Corp. thinks it has an answer to this problem.

Punch is scheduled to ship its WebDrive Sync Engine software, which will let people enter a password on the Web, click on a file icon, and witness all the time-stamped changes they've made to their files. The price: $99 per year for every 100 Mbytes of data behind the files. Programming the Sync Engine is simple, according to Punch, and users don't have to know a thing except a password and a Web interface--just as if they were browsing.

Sync Engine records file changes, distributing each new version to admin-designated servers and clients. That's the extent of remote-client backup.

"Most executives don't know or care how files are secured; they just want to share them or access them from home," Punch chairman David Campbell says. He says remote access often is too complicated and not a success. "With our software, the executives always have the file where they are."

Chris Greathouse, an independent consultant, has been testing Sync Engine as if he were a busy exec, trying to break it. He says he'd use the Sync Engine because he doesn't have to switch disks or tapes. "I modify source code, with a big hierarchy, and the engine automatically knows what's new and creates a file in the right order," Greathouse says. "It's a lot less hassle to let the engine do what it does."