Product Reviews

Backup (in) a Minute

Rest easy: Your data’s safe with UltraBac.

A solid and effective backup and disaster-recovery solution is, oftentimes, thought of as something that only applies to major financial conglomerates and blue-chip companies with 10,000 employees and complex WANs. Truth is, everyone needs to protect his or her mission-critical data, and the Alaskan snow-crab fisherman’s data is just as important to him as Microsoft’s data is to Bill Gates. BEI Corp.’s UltraBac Software product line is scalable enough to provide highly reliable data protection to both the crab-catcher and the corporate mammoth, without performance degradation.

UltraBac provides a simple, Windows-like interface, with all the most commonly used tools positioned just under the menu bar. The functionality is just as simple; however, failing to read the quick-start manual prior to your first attempt at a backup will certainly lead to the knee-jerk reaction that this is an overly complex product. It’s not. The quick-start guide is well illustrated and leads the user through the backup process in a precise manner, leaving little room for error. Save yourself a headache, read the guide first, succeed in your first backup, and rest easy knowing your data is safe.

UltraBac’s scheduler function allows users to create one-time, daily, weekly, monthly and yearly scheduled backups. The scheduler is equally user-friendly and offers e-mail notification to provide instant backup status at the end of each scheduled job.

To create a backup job you simply select the files, which—collectively—are called sets. One or more sets form a group, and groups are the units used for. All of this is made simple thanks to the wizard, which will name your sets for you (but I found it much easier to locate them with the more intuitive names I gave them). Simply click Run Now, and the backup process is under way. If you’re not quite ready to begin the backup, just schedule it to go it alone in the future.

Data-recovery operations are just as painless. You simply click on the Restore icon from the toolbar, and you’re asked if you’d like to restore from storage media or disk index (translation: file path). Make your selection, and UltraBac presents your previous backups listed in a hierarchical structure. Select the backup jobs you wish to restore, click Perform Restore, and you’re done!

Simplifying a product’s process can sometimes be translated as “flimsy.” This isn’t the case with UltraBac. It performed consistently well under many different situations. Here are just a few of UltraBac’s handy features:

  • FTP device—This directs backups to any FTP server. If your backup site is remote, the FTP device offers a simple, easily configurable solution.
  • Remote administration—UltraBac 7.0 can connect to other UltraBac 7.0 consoles on the network, allowing users to create, edit and schedule backup jobs on remote servers.
  • Client-side compression—This allows network backups to run up to one-third faster. This is done automatically before files are transferred over the network to their destination, increasing backup speed while decreasing bandwidth use.
  • Backup Wizard—UltraBac files make up backup sets, and these sets make up backup groups. The wizard leads you through these processes and is a big part of why the interface is so user friendly.
  • Remote/local server agent—This allows users to backup the System State or Active Directory (on domain controllers) to either a local or remote Windows 2000 machine. Without a copy of the AD from a crashed domain controller, there’s no way to restore the machine to its original state.

While UltraBac was designed from the ground up for Microsoft’s Windows operating system, it comes equipped with agents that allow—when enabled—backups from other operating systems that may be present on the network, such as Novell and Oracle. Also, the technical support personnel at UltraBac were professional, prepared, and highly knowledgeable of the product. Each time I contacted UltraBac—with mostly off-the-wall questions—the people who helped me displayed exuberance toward their job and a sincere excitement about the product.

Overall, UltraBac is a solid product that’s easy to use and will put your backup and recovery worries to rest.

Note: UltraBac has recently released UltraBac v7.0.3, with built-in encryption for backup files, a new remote install feature, and new client-side compression included.

About the Author

Todd M. Link has a degree in networking technologies and works with both Windows 2000 and Novell NetWare products. He writes many network-related articles.

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