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 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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Reader Comments:

Mon, Feb 27, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Wed, Jan 18, 2006 Herr Garman UK

The stars are for review. As for the product - this product should't have ever existed. Awful, abysmal, disgusting pile of garbage.
CA is well known for nonexistant support and that is a kind of support one will get for this.
Avoid it at all costs.
Additionally, I don't think it is supported anymore.

Tue, Dec 27, 2005 TMcC Anonymous

As Scott says, if you have never tried to restore over 150gb in size, you don't realize all of the shortcomings of this application. We recently lost a .25TB database and the restore failed under every attempted scenario - including with the help of technical support from the provider.

Mon, Dec 12, 2005 Anonymous Anonymous


Thu, Nov 3, 2005 Santosh prasad Delhi

Dear sir
error coming
can not submit the run job due to unavailabe group or backup device (s)

Wed, Nov 2, 2005 Anonymous Anonymous

Fri, Sep 3, 2004 Peter Toronto

Piece of crap. Non-standard interface, nothing works as expected (no context menus where you'd expect them, stupid dummy wizards etc.)

Built-in VLDB database keeps getting corrupt. Unbelievable number of bug fixes and patches to apply. Big-time trouble backing up Exchange 2000. Temp checkpoint files and database change logs are not being deleted, causing system partition to run out of space. To move the database, must reinstall the whole thing. Shall I continue? I don't know why our company sticks with this junk. It's terribly bad.

Wed, Sep 1, 2004 M Lawrence England

CA are just a bunch of gangsters and spivs peddling junk to poor unsuspecting companies.

Wed, Sep 1, 2004 Lee Glasgow

CA aught to be taken to court over this junk.

Wed, Sep 1, 2004 Chris London

We used Arcserve for Netware for a few years but it was unbelievably bad, just a joke in fact. Now we have migrated to Arcserve 11 for Windows and it feels like the same nightmare all over again. I don't know why we decided to stick with Arcserve.

Sun, Aug 22, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

Having purchase ARCserve 2000 for small business server I must say that I wish I had done my research better as it is a truely terrible product.

Installation was bug ridden and took serveral days cumalating in me shouting at someone from CA to finally get installation instructions for the exchange agent.

I have had it report successfully verified backup and then done a trial install only to discover that the backup was faulty. Using the small business edition in an emergancy could be problematic if you do not have a server preped to restore to as you must install not only the windows 2000 section of SBS but also enough for arcserve to recognise the server as a SBS server. I have taken to backing up a second tape using NT backup.

Avoid at all costs and if you are using make sure you do trial recoveries regularly

Tue, Feb 10, 2004 Simon Cambs UK

Arcserve falls short of a desired backup and restore solution when compared to Veritas Backup Exec.
I have used all versions of backup exec and arcserve, and with backup exec, I can always successfully backup and restore windows 2000 AD DC's with no problem, using arcserve causes problems and usually fails.
I wouldn't advise using arcserve for any servers that are critical to a business.
The user interface in backup exec is far more user friendly and easy to use.
CA have a good antivirus product in their etrust, but we steer all our customers towards backup exec because of the peace of mind it gives in knowing that you will actually be able to recover your data, and that it doesn't report failed backups for silly little things like arcserve does!
I'd rather use windows built in backup software.

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 So Yung Kim S. Calif.

ARCServe is a joke! We have tried them all and then rolled out UltraBac enterprise wide. I would't have it any other way.

Mon, Sep 15, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

We use this across 1500 servers enterprise wide, it is a pig. The databases corrupt, SAN options are poor. We are migrating away from it in the next few months.

Wed, May 28, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Carl should never buy this product.

Thu, May 1, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

quirky, bug ridden, and poor support only add to Arcserve's cumbersome interface that makes it impossible for hte average user to operate. IF something every does fail, forget it becaue there is no diagnostics and no decent suport. Get Veritas

Tue, Feb 11, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

CA customer support is the worst. patches and fixes are a pain and too many. wish there were some real competitive choices in this field.

Wed, Feb 5, 2003 Pauly USA Tampa, FL

I agree that the customer support is useless. Once you get to understanding the product you can get it to work properly. The only problem I have had is brick-level backup with exchagne 2000.

Thu, Dec 19, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

piece of crap - use something else

Wed, Nov 20, 2002 Boul Anonymous

Never seen so many bugfixes in such a short time for a product....and the reliability sucks big time....

Sun, Aug 18, 2002 rajendra mumbai

facing lotof problems. When backe is happening acount locking problem is coming on WIN2000.

Fri, Aug 9, 2002 Anonymous Anonymous

Nice over view I wish someone would write a how too article : )

Fri, Feb 8, 2002 Dan Murphy Dublin

Arcserve leaves a lot to be desired as does CA. I would look at other products first.

Wed, Dec 26, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Customer support is useless. Product reliability for more than a handful of servers on their enterprise product has been poor. I have used it for the past 3 years and I am now in the process of looking for a replacement.

Sat, Dec 1, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous


Fri, Nov 23, 2001 Anonymous Washington

Why in the world would you include a "latest backup software" roundup and not include CommVault Systems "Galaxy"? Ultrabac is a nice workgroup solution, as is Backup Exec, (which is who this article must have been targeted at) but they offer limited scalability. The reviewer didn't offer much in the way of "gotchas", which isn't unusual for most of the articles I've read. While I understand the article may have gotten cut there was little in the way of testing for "mailbox/message restores", automatic restarts of failed backups, search capability for files/messages and more that administrators are struggling with. Also, why would the reviewer use a DDS tape drive (again unless it's a workgroup article)? Finally, there was mention of media management, but no actual testing of each products abilities (Ultrabac doesn't offer it, which is important to note). This article did little to help me in deciding on a backup product, except give me history tidbits for the water cooler.

Mon, Nov 19, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

I've always had problems with ARCserve in the past. Plus, you had to obtain a client for absolutly everything. I've had great results with Backup Exec and have no desire to mess up our network with that crap again.

Sun, Nov 11, 2001 Frank Mirecki Canada

I agree, ARCServe 2000 is a great product, however the administration is a little complex. I would recommand reading the user manuals before you start to install the software.

Tue, Nov 6, 2001 Maurice Canada

Like Scott said marketed well but terrible to work with. By the way you can speed up your backup by changing your ethernet duplexing to half duplex on all devices. I see 120-250mb/min but reliabilty is terrible.

Wed, Oct 31, 2001 Scott USA

I doubt that you've ever tried using it for an extended time with data volumes over 150g. This product is marketed well, but falls short on a very close look.

Wed, Oct 31, 2001 Howard UK

I cannot fault this product, it does what it says on the box! Backs up and restores data reliably

Wed, Oct 31, 2001 Anonymous Anonymous

Excellent user interface

Tue, Oct 30, 2001 Carlos Anonymous


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