Product Reviews

Administrators, Start Your Backup Engines...: ARCserve 2000

The latest in backup software handles the complexity of Windows 2000.

[Since this review was written, Computer Associates has renamed its ARCserve line of backup products to BrightStor ARCserve.—Ed.]

The opening ARCserve 2000 screen presents four simple pictorial choices containing most software functions, with a text version including two additional choices on the left side panel. The same style is used to present the wizards (see figure). Despite this surface simplicity, ARCserve supports many options and a wide range of hardware. Advanced options include virus checking (Innoculan workgroup is included in all versions), disaster recovery, tape RAID, SAN serverless backup (which streams data directly from disk to tape in a SAN environment), tape or optical library support, image, database and messaging agents, and various additional client agents. If you’re running SQL server, you may elect to use that to store the ARCserve database, rather than installing the CA SQL engine. The advanced edition also includes open file backup capabilities.

ARCserve was among the first server products to include media life and tape-rotation management, beginning with what used to be called “auto-pilot.” Though the name is gone, the functionality remains, with an interface that makes it easy to configure what kind of tape rotation you wish to employ, as well as exceptions for holidays and the like. The grandparent-parent-child scheme of tape rotation is clearly explained in the documentation.

I easily backed up and restored a Win2K junction point, but the job progress monitor screen showed illegal characters in the backup destination box, and the progress indicator never moved from zero until I applied ARCserve’s own Service Pack 2. I was able to restore disk quotas, some active files (these are written to a temporary location and rewritten on next reboot), an encrypted file, and information from the system state. ARCserve has the most complete list of Win2K features it claims to handle properly. In addition to the above, ARCserve can back up file system objects (catalogs) generated by a content indexing server, the link tracking service log, the Removable Storage Management (RSM) database, the single instance store, sparse files, and the Terminal Services licensing database. Selective backup and restore of the registry below the hive level is only possible by using detail mode in the backup; the default is no detail if you select all local drives for backup.

Of all the products that I tested, ARCserve seemed the least efficient in terms of tape used. Though I turned on software compression, I needed—just barely—two tapes, where other products managed with one. Backup speed on my older SCSI-DDS unit ranged from 70 MB/minute at the start, to finish somewhere between 10-17 MB/minute, for an average of about 13MB/minute

ARCserve
ARCserve opts for a simple, uncluttered interface that steps the user through common tasks. Some advanced options are buried deeper in the program, but unusually advanced control features require editing the registry by hand. (Click image to view larger version.)

ARCserve offers a very high level of integration, with multiple storage options and support for multiple OSs. In particular, the ability to read either Novell or Win2K tapes on the other OS or to back both up on a common SAN takes the ideal of integration a little further than with other products. Couple the extended support of many hardware choices with multiple agents, ARCserve’s excellent tape management, and fine control over backup actions, and it’s easy to overlook any minor shortcomings.

About the Author

Douglas Mechaber, MCSE, MCNE, CCDA, is a network consultant and dive instructor and is always on the lookout for utilities that make his life easier, or panulirus interruptus, the California spiny lobster.

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