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Your Windows 95/98 workstations could be backed up as well. If you are running Linux, you probably already have Samba installed. With AIX or another Unix, you can still get Samba by visiting http://www.samba.org/. Samba, by the way, is a file and printer sharing package that lets a Unix machine serve up files and share printers like an NT server, with the added bonus of your Unix system's reliability. Here's a quick Samba example. Pretend that you have a Windows PC called speedy on your network. The user has shared the C drive with the name SPEEDY_C. I could mount that share on a Unix/Linux system running Samba like this:

smbmount //speedy/speedy_c /mnt/unix_mount_point

Then, I simply back it up like this:

cd /mnt/unix_mount_point
tar -cvf /dev/st0 .

Everything works. So, what's wrong with that? Well, for one thing, straight tar isn't the greatest when it comes to error recovery. While errors don't generally occur, this is a concern. Now, I've seen systems backed up with tar for years with few problems or none at all, so while I urge caution, it's not all bad. You could use cpio, which has better error handling in case of a read error, but both tar and cpio aren't particularly quick if you want to restore something. In the case of older versions of these commands (and they still exist on some platforms), they don't back up all files. Here's another minus. To find a file, you have to travel the entire length of the tape searching for it. There is no index at the beginning, and just finding out where the file actually is (assuming that you don't remember the exact pathname) can take quite some time.

The real plus with cpio and tar is this. Every Linux/Unix under the sun (including SUN OS) has cpio and tar. This ensures cross-compatibility, a consideration I will be mentioning again.

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