SonicWALL CDP 3440i review

Price when reviewed

Best known for its extensive range of firewall appliances, SonicWALL shifts its focus to network data backup and recovery with a family of four new appliances. On review is the CDP 3440i, which targets SMBs and remote offices looking for a tape-free backup system.

The appliance acts as a hard disk vault for data backed up from networked workstations and servers. A key feature is that it only takes a full backup of selected files on each client once. From that point onwards, it secures new or modified files by comparing them with what’s already been copied. This requires a small agent installed on all host systems. The agent functions at the kernel level to allow it to detect hard disk write operations and send any file changes at the block level to the appliance.

Clients are backed up according to policies created via the bundled Enterprise Manager utility. File and folder locations must be entered manually and file extension filters can be applied. Data associated with specific applications can also be collectively secured by defining the application to the appliance. However, not only does the appliance represent a single point of failure, but it can’t be backed up to a local tape drive. SonicWALL’s answer is to offer a hosted remote backup service, but this won’t be up and running until September at the earliest. A policy option allows files to be copied locally and also automatically encrypted and sent off-site.

Installed agents are automatically detected by the appliance and can be assigned to multiple policies. As soon as they’re added to their first policy, a backup is started immediately. Although you have 400GB on the appliance, this isn’t a lot of room, so policy quotas limit the amount of space that can be used. You also get a full disaster-recovery facility courtesy of Acronis’ disk-imaging software, but this is completely independent of the CDP’s operations and must be installed separately on every system you want to image. The price includes support for one server and five workstations. The idea here is that failed systems are restored using the basic recovery boot disk and image created by Acronis, and then the SonicWALL appliance is called in to restore user data. The Agent Tool makes the latter a simple process and it provides extensive search facilities for locating specific files.

This SonicWALL system is easy enough to use, but the basic concept behind it certainly isn’t new. The first continuous data protection system was introduced nearly eight years ago and is still available as the Altiris Recovery Solution software. The main differences here are that this allows you to select your own data vault hardware, and it uses checksums to ensure only one copy of a file that’s identical on multiple systems is ever resident in the vault. CDP doesn’t do this, as the philosophy behind it is that you only secure business data to the appliance and leave Acronis to handle the disaster recovery.

The CDP appliance is easy enough to deploy and use, but the separate Acronis software does add an extra burden to management. Furthermore, it’s essential that you use SonicWALL’s hosted remote storage service when it becomes available, as it will be the only way of getting critical data into a secure off-site location.

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