XOsoft has released new verification software that will check whether your backup systems are working properly.

The premise is that data replication and mirroring systems are somewhat pointless if they're not working when needed. According to some research TheInfoPro, only 40 percent of sysadmins (they interviewed 36) said they are "somewhat" confident that their disaster-recovery systems will work when called upon.

The survey also found that testing costs from $30,000 to more than $1 million, perhaps explaining why only half of those asked said they test their disaster-recovery systems yearly.

XOSoft, which sells replication and mirroring tools, says its Assured Recovery software is designed to simplify the process of making sure such tools are in order.

Assured Recovery installs on a host computer (such as one running Microsoft Exchange or an Oracle database), suspends the replication process and spools any data changes to a file. Software installed on a remote server validates its database. The master server is restored to the pre-test state and changes continue to spool. These changes are sent to the remote server and replication resumes.

"An untested solution is no solution," says Gil Rapaport, marketing VP for XOsoft. "Over time, server migrations, changes to the network configuration or hardware failures may cause replication or mirroring operations to fail. A gap is created between the last time the company tested its disaster-recovery system and its current readiness to do recovery."

Analysts say testing replication processes is typically cumbersome, expensive and causes unnecessary downtime.

"The real difficulty in business-continuity/disaster-recovery testing is that until you mirror or replicate the data, recover it and restart all your applications on the secondary site, you have no idea whether the data you are mirroring or replicating is actually consistent, recoverable and restartable," says Stephanie Balaouras, senior analyst with The Yankee Group.

The initial release of Assured Recovery only supports XOsoft's WANSynch and Enterprise Rewinder products, although extensions are planned. The software costs from $2,400 to $9,600 per server.