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cygwin to backup Windows data

Hello all,

A chemist friend of mine at the FDA has some questions about Cygwin and how
it interacts with Windows.  Below is his e-mail message to me which he
asked to forward to the list if I felt it would help.  I have some
questions of my own to ask him, but thought I would put it on the list for
some insight into what other questions I should ask him and what other
questions he should be asking his supervisors.

BTW, I am not any of the vendors, just a colleague.

- Robert


The FDA needs to backup up primary data from it's scientific instruments.
We have several open source bidders who would like to install Cygwin on the
Windows equipped instruments. Cygwin appears to be needed so that it a) can
run a cron job and b) communicate with the proposed RedHat, Debian or
FreeBSD server it will export the data to.

The questions which my boss and the other senior chemists have are: 
  1)  will the Cygwin interfere with the instrument's operation;
  2) if the instrument is actually writing data to a file and the Cygwin's
cron job for data backup begins at the same time, will the backup damage
the file that is being written to disk?

The last question needs a little elaboration. Suppose the instrument is
collecting data and writing to a very large file. At the time this is
happening, the Cygwin starts it's backup (through a cron job). Will the
Cygwin actuated backup attempt to get the incompletely written file and
possibly damage it?  The instruments in question are Agilent (formerly
Hewlett-Packard), Shimadzu and Dionex HPLC systems.  There is also a Mass
Spec instrument that needs to be backed up.  The reason for the concern is
that the server will back up the primary data for United States
Pharamacopeia standards that we test here. These are the standards for
medicines sold in the United States. The data cannot be lost or corrupted. 

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