|St. Bernard Softwares
Open File Manager 5.1 is a network managers dream. During backup operations, backup
applications typically skip open files or attempt to read information in a shared mode.
These methods can create a corrupt backup file when another application changes the open
file during the backup operation.
What does it do?
Open File Manager lets applications continue operating and allows backup applications
access open files, including services such as mail or database servers. When a backup
program starts, the software selects a point in time following a brief period of disk
inactivity. The subsequent backup copies data to the backup media as of that point in
time. When an application makes changes to data on disk while the backup is running, Open
File Manager writes to a temporary file the original version of data. The software uses
the original version of the data when it is written to the backup verification phase. Open
File Manager does not need to save additional information if an active application updates
these records, because the software has already saved the original contents for the backup
program to use. The product has an on-the-fly journaling file system extension to Windows
NT and Novell Netware that maintains the snapshot of changed data only during the backup.
Open File Managers journaling file system tracks changes users make to open files.
Without copying the entire volume, the snapshot or point-in-time view of a disk volume
appears as another read-only disk volume, letting you manually copy a point-in-time
version of the file. The journaling file system sets up and deletes the snapshot volume as
necessary (Synchronise and unsychronise, in Open File Managers terms), such as
before a backup operation. The journaling file system must maintain sufficient information
to keep the snapshot and disk volume up to date. Typically, other journaling file systems
can reserve half as much space as the original disk volume. Open File Managers
on-the-fly journaling file system uses much less space because backups take less than a
day to complete, and the product needs space to hold only the data that has changed since
the start of the backup. Journaling file systems typically use a special partition,
whereas Open File Manager uses a hidden file.
The product doesnt just work with back up programs. The Open File Copy feature lets
the software provide the same service to any application that starts with a designated
user account. Open File Manager is not perfect. Applications update some files, such as
the NT Registry, only when the application terminates properly. But even considering this
flaw, a program that works so well and transparently is rare.
I installed Open File Manager in two steps: First I installed the management applications
on an NT system from a pair of 3.5" disks. I started the management applications and
an Explorerlike interface appeared on my screen. The left pane in Screen 1 lists NT and
Netware servers on my network. The right panes contain status information about the server
selected in the left pane. The bottom right pane shows a log of Open File Managers
actions. I selected the NT server and clicked Install from the System menu to install the
Open File Manager service on my NT server. This process copies the requisite files to the
server and sets up the NT service. You must start Open File Manager from the System menu
before the software can track files. After you restart NT, the product starts
On NT and Netware-based versions of Open File Manager, you manage the service from
the management application. A tabbed properties dialog box holds the servers
settings. These settings control how the product tracks open files. The General tab
provides access to timeouts such as the Write Inactivity Period. You can also set the
system log location on this tab. The default settings worked well, and I found no
difference in performance when I changed them. The system tab provides basic system
information that helps you obtain system configuration of a remote server. The Files tab
comprises a list of files or directories in the exclusion list. Open Files Managers
files are in the excursion list. Open File Managers files are in this list, as is
the NT page file. Finally, the Agents tab lists the supported backup applications with a
check box next to those that Open File Manager will monitor. By default, the software
selects all options except Open File Copy and Remote Backup. Selecting an application,
even if the application doesnt run on the server, doesnt cause overhead
because Open File Manager automatically detects the running backup client. Open File
Manager didnt affect the backup speed and didnt influence the performance of
other applications or services running on the server.
St Bernard Software relegates documentation to disk. The README file covers the
installation process, and the online Help covers operation and management details. The
online Help is extensive, but it is sufficient for general operation.
Do You Need Open File Manager?
Open File Manager is a great program, but it is not for every network administrator.
Although open files can be a problem, they are not always a major one. For example, a
late-night worker might be editing a document that will not go through a backup because it
is in use; however, that workers system will probably save the file when it performs
a daily backup. Also, a backup application that works with other server-based services to
properly backup the service database files might be sufficient.
If you have trouble with open files, Open File Manager is definitely the best
alternative. It is easy to install and operates quietly in the background. Although the
product does not solve all open file related problems, it handles most of them.