IBM has released software that continuously backs up files on workstations, laptops and file servers throughout a network.

The IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files creates a copy of any data that changes and sends it over the IP network to a centralised server. When users need to recover files they may have accidentally deleted, they can recover them from this central server.

According to IDC, 60 percent of the data on the network is stored on desktops and laptops rather than on data centre servers.

The software will not eliminate the need for nightly backups - even though files represent a large portion of the data on the network, there is still the database and other data that needs to be protected. For that data, IBM has Tivoli Storage Manager.

IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files grew out of software research IBM’s alphaworks group was doing. That project - VitalFile - where a beta version that works on Windows, Linux and Mac OS X can be downloaded.

Continuous data protection products have become increasingly popular. Microsoft and Symantec have products that allow near continuous data protection for files. Revivio offers continuous protection for all types of data. A number of start-ups exist such as Mendocino Software, Mimosa and XOsoft, who also offer continuous data protection software.

One of the most attractive features of many of these packages, Gartner claims, is their ability to let users recover files for themselves, instead of having the IT group do it for them.

The IBM product works with Windows Common Internet File System files or the Unix/Linux Network File System. The product presently runs on a Windows server, although a Linux version is planned in the next six months.

IBM Tivoli Continuous Data Protection for Files is expected to be available September 16 for $35 per laptop or desktop and $995 per server processor.