Veritas is beta testing a browser-based data recovery tool designed to help users recover lost files themselves from backup copies.

The job is usually done by helpdesk technicians, so the tool, dubbed Panther, also promises to reduce sysadmins' workload. It can be combined with other Veritas tools and used to track and organise e-mails, as well as to police acceptable-use polices, said Veritas’ strategic technical architect, Simon Elisha.

The company already has an e-mail archiving product, Enterprise Vault. And its recent takeover of Symantec has provided it with anti-virus and anti-spam products. They could also, potentially, be tied to a common interface.

"We are certainly doing a lot of work to have a common log-on to our products," says Elisha. "We aim to make them operable through the same interface, so it makes sense to have them operate through the same engine where possible." A significant driver for mail archiving and searching in the US is the need to comply with financial auditing legislation such as the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Panther performs its continuous backup of files by recording changes to files every time they are saved. On recovery, these changes can be re-applied to reproduce the state of the file at arbitrary points in time. This technology is already used extensively in Veritas' existing backup software but the Web interface is new.

Panther can back up and restore through a local office network or a WAN. This allows backup versions of files to be saved to head office or to a disaster recovery site. However, Elisha does not see this being workable using the Internet to send data to an independently-run data centre.

Panther is chiefly aimed chiefly at small-to-medium sized businesses which usually do not have a lot of specialist IT resources, if any. Panther has no release date as yet.