Product Reviews

Administrators, Start Your Backup Engines...: BackUp Exec 8.6

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

Veritas Backup Exec comes in five editions, ranging from Datacenter Edition with full robotic library support, to a Small Business Server Edition and even a non-server QuickStart Edition. Whichever edition you choose, you’ll probably want to purchase additional agents and options. The software is compatible with NT 4.0, Service Pack 4 or better, and all Win2K versions. In addition to its own tapes, Backup Exec can read tapes from some versions of ARCserve.

Backup Exec has dedicated agents available to handle data from MS SQL Server, MS Exchange Server, Lotus Domino, Oracle Server, R/3 Agent for Oracle, SharePoint Portal Server and more. Advanced options include open file backup, network storage executive (to manage larger installations of Backup Exec centrally), SAN shared storage support, Intelligent Image (which backs up file metadata separately from the file data), intelligent disaster recovery, and library expansion (for multiple robotic drives) as well as antivirus software. This release also includes the ability to use a dedicated LAN for backup, reducing network traffic, and the ability to backup to disk.

Win2K-specific backup choices include AD, COM+ class registration database, registry, SYSVOL and system files. I tested backup and restore of AD information, a registry hive and a junction point successfully. Backup Exec’s open file option won’t back up encrypted files, and the entire system state is restored as a single entity (registry, COM+ database, boot and system files).

The restore wizard lacks some control over options such as relocating restored files. This is only available in the Restore Job properties dialog box. For specific Win2K properties, the default under Junction Points is to restore these points from backup media, not to preserve the ones existing on the to-be-restored device. A mount point (a directory reference on one volume mapped to another volume) can be restored, but the backup will fail if the junction point recursively includes itself. Other specific Win2K information that can be restored includes disk quotas, Terminal Services database and cluster quorums.

Backup Exec
The Backup Exec user interface offers fine-grained control over many application options. (Click image to view larger version.)

With Backup Exec, my typical backup job averaged 10-plus MB/minute on an older DDS tape unit, and the counters appeared accurate in the job monitor. Quibbles aside, Backup Exec has some useful advanced options, such as cluster support, and good integration of NetWare and Windows backups.

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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Reader Comments:

Thu, Jun 10, 2004 Phil Michigan

This program is TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

and the support is even worse

Wed, Jan 14, 2004 Mark Ridgefield

After posting my last reveiw, I discovered an error in my email address link. If you want to contact met, please use the link for this reveiw (click on my name, etc.). I know this onei s correct.

I will be happy to help in any way I can.

Wed, Jan 14, 2004 Mark Ridgefield, CT

After reading your article, I was wondering how long you tested Backup Exec before uninstalling it. I have been administering Backup Exec since 7.x, back when Seagate owned it. When Veritas bought it, they made a few improvements, but overall the application remained the same. The one thing I don’t like about backup exec is the need for an (license) for almost everything beyond a single tape drive and the local system. These are covered with the basic package.

BE8.x severed me well for 3 years. I even installed the NSE (Network Storage Executive) option to mange my 6 backup systems from one window. Three of the systems were connected to a fully fibre (no, there no SCSI bridges, cards, etc. in the setup) StorageTek L700/700 library with 10 Fibre drives (LTO Gen1). This ran for a year without issue. It suddenly stopped functioning. I spent several days (about 2 weeks) trying to resolve the issue with Veritas Technical support to no avail. I found myself having to rip out NSE and convert back to stand alone.

As for the ability to run backups of various types, providing you have the agents, the biggest issue I have is with Oracle on NT/W2K. I need to run a pre and post command to shut down the Oracle database and to start it backup in a exclusive mode, which allows a clean backup of the database. At the end, the process is reversed. I also have several other pre –and post options I run for our applications, but this not a Veritas issue. It is the nature of these applications.

OFO in BE 8.6 is limited to 10 GBs of open files. This doesn’t work too well when I am backing up 1TB server. BE 9.0 allows for more room.

SQL and Exchange work fine. I have had no major, or even minor, issues with these agents. Also, the library and drive options are low or no maintenance, with one exception. If you replace a drive (I am talking fibre connections here, not SCSI), your numbering goes out of wack if you don’t uninstall the drives from BOTH BE 8.6 and the OS level. It’s not hard, just a pain when you need to do this with 10 of them. And it is NOT required. It just keeps thing and neat (and keeps my operator from complaining too!).

I am now using BE 9.0 with SSO. There were MANY issues up front – cataloging being the biggest. But once you get past, and providing your environment is not too complex, it works ok. I am researching an Enterprise level solution. Although we have been using Veritas for some time, I am looking at all options to be sure I am getting the right one for my environment’s future growth.

If you would like any information, please feel free to contact me. I will get back to you as soon as I can.

Mon, Dec 22, 2003 MReilly Philly

This product is fantastic....when it works. I have found that it need a good bit of babysitting. OFO is poor at best, with entirely too many problems. I have been able to troubleshot all of the issues I have encountered with 8.6, but with ABSOLUTELY NO HELP from Veritas either online or phone based. Their support is horrid. As a consultant, I rarely complain about this though. Lack of Veritas support has allowed me countless hours of on the clock troubleshooting.

Fri, Mar 7, 2003 Carl Birmingham, AL

I too have had issues with the OFO option. It is used to backup MS Project server databases the largest of which is 7 GB. Even with the OFO static file set to 10 GB it still fills up. Still working on it.
BTW, contrary to the comments of James from Melbourne, BE will not make or break Veritas. They have a market cap of 6.8 billion and annual revenues of 1.5 billion putting them in the top 20 worldwide for software companies. They are best known for volume management, clustering, SAN, etc. in Unix environments so may not be a household word amoung the Wintel community.
The problem, it seems, is the BE is a small peice of their pie (iand doesn't get the attention it needs (as evidenced by the level of support reported here).

Tue, Jan 14, 2003 Eric California

I have had nothing but problems with B.E 8.6. It has become an administrative nightmare.

Wed, Jun 12, 2002 James Melbourne, FL

I have been dealing with Backup Exec from the Seagate days and have watched as Veritas has destroyed an excellent product with overinflated pricing and poor support. Veritas was unheard of before they purchased this product from Seagate and if Seagate had not sold it to Veritas rest assured Veritas would be out of business.

Tue, May 28, 2002 Jason London

Veritas backup exec used to be a solid product, but with this release they seem to have sacrificed reliability for complexity, and support is terrible.
Its a shame that what should be a fundamentally simple process has now turned into nightmare of configuration issues before a reliable backup is achieved.

Sat, Dec 1, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

na

Thu, Nov 15, 2001 Chris Arsenault, MCSE, MC Houston

I have had both success and failure with Backup Exec all the way up to 8.6 Build 3878. One issue I have found lately is the OFO wizard and information on Veritas's site regarding it is horrible!!!

After spending a week or so tweaking the OFO on various servers, everything appears to be running OK..

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