In-Depth

Backing Up Small Business Server

As part of the June cover feature, "4 Dirt-Cheap Workgroup Servers," Microsoft Small Business Server 2003 also comes with a Backup Configuration Wizard. Here are two add-on products that offer help.

Small Business Server 2003 comes with its own Backup Configuration Wizard. With it you can specify whether to make backups to tape or disk, and you can choose which folders to back up, as well as what to do with deleted e-mail messages and users’ shared folders. You can also set a schedule for the backups. But is that enough? To answer that question, I took a look at two add-on products designed specifically for SBS 2003 backups: Lockstep Systems’ Backup for Workgroups, and UltraBac Small Business Server.

Backup for Workgroups 2.0
Backup for Workgroups is designed to back up data from all over your network to a single data repository. The repository is stored on a hard drive, and can be on just about any computer running Windows 98 or 4.0 on up to Windows Server 2003. When you install the repository, you also create accounts for both clients and servers on your network. Then, you install the Backup for Workgroups client on the individual client computers, and they send their backups to the repository via TCP/IP.

Unlike the native SBS backup, Backup for Workgroups allows you to easily back up data stored all over the network. It’s also a purely disk-based product. Rather than use tape drives for offsite backups, it supports mirroring the repository to an external hard drive, as shown in Figure 1. You can choose to rotate this mirror to take it offsite at any time, and if need be, you can rebuild your server directly from an existing mirror.

Backup for Workgroups lets you define multiple backup sets, so you can decide what will go into the backup. On the restore side, you can do anything from a single file restore on up to a complete bare-metal rebuild of a computer; the program will give you exhaustive instructions if this ever becomes necessary.

Backup for Workgroups 2.0

Backup for Workgroups 2.0
Starts at $99 per client, $299 per server,
and $249 per Exchange Server
Lockstep Systems
www.backupforworkgroups.com/

Backup for Workgroups 2.0
Figure 1. Setting up a mirrored repository in Backup for Workgroups. (Click image to view larger version.)

There’s also special logic built into the application to handle servers. You can back up Active Directory and Exchange Server information, which (along with a few other server-specific bits of data) allows you to get what you need to rebuild your SBS server. There are also lots of other nice features here. For example, the client application will automatically shut down and re-open Outlook, so that it can back up Outlook data files (which are normally locked), and it knows how to back up the Registry. You can also choose to encrypt the information that’s being backed up, if security’s a concern. Finally, the server is smart about not storing multiple copies of duplicate files, lowering the disk space requirements for the repository.

Ultrabac Small Business Server 7.1.4
UltraBac takes a much more traditional backup approach, handling everything from tape drives to image files as backup targets. What’s unique about its offering is simple pricing for SBS networks. If you’re using SBS Standard Edition, the $595 license backs up your server, Exchange data, and data from all network workstations. If you’ve moved up to SBS Premium Edition, the price rises to $795 to include the SQL Server agent. Either way, this represents quite a bargain over a la carte pricing if you’ve got more than a few workstations on the network.

Like Backup for Workgroups, UltraBac uses a client-server model, in which individual workstations send their data to a central server for storage. However, UltraBac offers much more flexible storage options. You can back up to a tape drive, a disk directory, or an image file, among other choices. UltraBac’s suite of agents can back up server data without interrupting running applications, and as I already mentioned the base price for the SBS editions includes the necessary server agents.

UltraBac offers a rather more complex user interface than Backup for Workgroups, which could require more training in an organization without administrators. Some of this complexity is alleviated by simple wizards to get you through the basics. As Figure 2 shows, you can adjust which files to back up on as detailed a level as you like.

UltraBac Small Business Server 7.1.4

UltraBac Small Business Server 7.1.4
Starting at $595
UltraBac Software
www.ultrabac.com/

Alt text here
Figure 2. Selecting files to back up with UltraBac. (Click image to view larger version.)

UltraBac does a good job of being smart with its network operations, compressing the files on the client before sending them to the server to be redirected to their ultimate destination. You can also choose to encrypt the data being streamed to ensure its privacy. Finally, if you outgrow your SBS network, UltraBac offers many more agents and options that you can purchase and implement. If you want to back up Unix or Netware servers, use Tivoli-managed storage devices, or even back up on the fly to an FTP site, UltraBac can handle the job.

If you’ve got the budget for the software and a set of external hard drives to rotate, Backup for Workgroups is an excellent fit for SBS 2003. If you prefer a traditional tape-based backup product, or have more than three workstations and want to save money, UltraBac’s special pricing is worth a look.

About the Author

Mike Gunderloy, MCSE, MCSD, MCDBA, is a former MCP columnist and the author of numerous development books.

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