Product Reviews

Going Tapeless

LiveVault makes secure backup and restore a snap.

If you like life to be simple, then you’ll love the ease of LiveVault’s online backup and restore service. I’m talking easy. No longer must you fuss with tape or lengthy turnaround times for backups or restores — LiveVault does it all for you.

Initially, I spent about an hour on the phone with a LiveVault representative who walked me through every step of the service, ranging from setup to basic use and abuse. This little lesson seemed a bit unusual, but I was told that when a company signs up for the service, it would get this call. During the call, you provide LiveVault with the basics —who you are, what you want to back up (including servers) and who you want accessing these backups. LiveVault provides you with a transparent download agent and a login password. I created a desktop shortcut on an application server and was off to the races.

Because the LiveVault service requires an always-on Internet connection (cable, DSL or T1/T3), security’s a concern. If I were a zillion-dollar company, the last thing I’d want is someone poking around my data. Fortunately, using the downloadable agent, you connect via a virtual private network. What’s more, data is encrypted with 192-bit security both over the pipe and on the tape stored in the Iron Mountain facility (which is where most backups are kept). I was assured that each “tape handler” goes through rigorous security checks, ensuring that not just anyone is near my data.

When it comes to restores — such as a crashed server — LiveVault sends a link via e-mail to connect to your account, where you log in and download the backed-up data to the crashed server. If a RAID array fails, replace it with a new array, attach your server to the network and restore from another PC or server. Pretty awesome, huh? What’s more, if you need a CD or network-attached storage device from which to restore, LiveVault will ship it overnight (at your cost). Your data has to be current, but that’s a small price to pay. Of course, this is all assuming that the server running LiveVault is the one that fails. If it isn’t, log into the service as usual and hit the Restore tab for the latest backup for the machine in question.

To see it in action, I created a text file on a network drive, ran a full backup on the entire drive (and specifically included the file) and restored it. It restored everything I backed up (including the test file) as expected. What’s more, LiveVault sent me an e-mail with the stats of the restore.

LiveVault
The LiveVault interface, like the service itself, is user-friendly.

This is one of the better products I’ve seen, as it eliminates the need for expensive tape or drives. It’s fast, secure and worth every penny. It’s only a matter of time before all backups and restores go the way of an online service, and LiveVault shows why.

About the Author

Jim Idema, MCSE, CNA, is president of Idema Enterprises Computer Consulting, a West Michigan-based computer consulting firm specializing in networking solutions to business.

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Reader Comments:

Sun, Aug 10, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

you cannot restore an Exchange Databases with any version of LiveVault. There is a bug with the Transaction Logs and they are fully aware of it.

Sun, Aug 10, 2008 Anonymous Anonymous

Do Not Use LiveVault
you cannot restore an Exchange Database with any version of LiveVault. There is a bug with the Transaction Logs and they are fully aware of it.

Thu, Mar 23, 2006 Cris Sumner, WA

Single server on a 20gb acct. Have a trouble ticket that is going on 2 months unresolved. Support is lame. 100% guarantee is bogus if you can't get a full backup. Mine resets itself daily. Told it was being moved to a server with space. Guess that didn't happen. Told I would be called back about 30 times and it never happens. I have to call and ask wth. Beware of this service and promises.

Fri, Jun 6, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Another very important point to mention is the speed of the backup. ween with a t1 total backup speed is 100k per second max. for a small shop less than 10 gb that is acceptable, but for large sites with half of terabyte or more, you can forget it. restoring a sql database of 65gb takes 1hr with a sdlt, not to mention not tying up our internet for big file transfers. good idea but not practicle with todays advances in hardware. security is one thing but who do you point the finger at when it fails. Offsite storage is as easy as putting tape in pocket and going. if a company is really large a seperate building solution is even easier with secure wireless or fibre. Good innovation but too expensive.

Thu, Jun 5, 2003 Brian NJ

LiveVault works great for basic backup and restore of open files. It has brought servers back from the dead for us with few problems. Our issue with LiveVault was doing the up to the minute restore of a Database – specifically Oracle. LiveVault backs everything up as it is written but you can only restore 6 hour intervals when it closes the backed up database files. We tried applying Oracle's log and archive files to the the restored database to bring it to the point to just before the crash, but we came upon the fuzzy backup alert where oracle does not trust the restore because he didnt do the backup. Unless you are using some sort of agent that works with Oracle to backup the open database – you could loose up to six hours of data if you need to restore a database.

Tue, Jun 3, 2003 Scott Jarr

Disclaimer: My name is Scott Jarr; I am the Director of Product Management at LiveVault
First, consider this an open invitation to engage with me about any aspect of LiveVault. You can reach me at sjarr@livevault.com. Secondly, let me offer LiveVault's perspective on three of the discussion points:
1) Security - LiveVault uses the same security infrastructure that the worlds' leading financial institutions use to transmit secure data over insecure networks. In many ways it goes well beyond just a VPN: AES encryption, digital certificates, mutual authentication, SSL communication, and not least of which, vaulting at Iron Mountain, the most trusted location for off-site data storage.
2) Databases - This is where LiveVault really shines. LiveVault provides continuous (not just nightly) protection of open, changing databases. No more plugin or complex backup configuration nightmares, and most importantly, guaranteed recoverability.
3) Disaster recovery - LiveVault protects the entire system: OS, System State, AD, apps and data, based on what you want protected. In fact, we highly encourage our customers to protect everything, including the OS components, to enable recovery of the entire system. Nobody likes to try and recreate the settings in the system state or AD.
Thanks for listening.

Wed, May 28, 2003 Anonymous San Gabriel, CA

$295 per mo. for 10 gb sounds expensive.

We got tired of tape and went to removable Firewire IDE drives instead. Very fast and you can use any software and backup scheme you choose. We do daily backup of an 80 gb Raid 5 Array. we spent about $1000 and and have the equalivalent of 15 copies of the array to work with. We can add as much capacity as we need for the price of IDE drives.

With this and DVD-RW available, I hope to never see another tape. We did have to assign someone to handling the offsite storage rotation though.

Wed, May 28, 2003 Al Zaccario Shelton CT

Jim hit it on the head, if you are a zillion dollar a year company with a big IT org chart and and ACTUAL budget for neat stuff then mabey this service isn't for you. If however you don't fall into that category then...I've used it for two years and have restored critical data sources twice, remotely. It's been good insurance for a small to midsize company like ours that has an IT department on 1. They monitor the connection to the server as well, so you can expect a call if you bring it down and don't tell them. Again another value add. I still run overlapping tapes from multiple drives, but this just adds to the insurance policy by having it offsite as well. We have servers are spread out geographically so it's great to have some comfort that a tape jam won't mean a field tech call on a Sunday morning...

Wed, May 28, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Have been using them for two years. No more fiddling with tapes. Had a large MSSQL database "crash" last year. The SQL back-up file got corrupted, too. Was able to restore online a good copy, time-sliced to just before the disaster struck.

Wed, May 28, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

I still remember the days when people said "nobody would ever bank online or shop online" because of security. I think that one's just about been put to bed.

I know its my company's data, but I'll tell you what, I am just as cautious about my money. I, probably like many of you, do much of my financial transactions online and know that the security is in place for this to happen safely.

Wed, May 28, 2003 Giles Willey Vermont Systems, Inc

Having used LiveVault for close to a year now I can attest to its value as both a viable product and an augment to our tape system. It has saved us a number of times in a very timely manner. No searching for the right tape and hoping that the tape drive works. I don't buy the half-empty logic that LiveVault may go out of business tomorrow so why risk using them as your backup solution. Veritas is not immune from today's business challenges and could easily go south yet we all rely on their software to handle our in-house backup. Good product for a fair price!

Wed, May 28, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

With all the problems with security and companies going bad. I don't see any company totally reliving on an outside source. Sounds good in theory, but I'm don't think so in practice.

Wed, May 28, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Corporation will still view this like any other online service... unsecured for their data.

Tue, May 27, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Wow, you restored a big, bad old text file?!?! How about a Database, System State, AD, open files???

I am evaulating this product at work on two servers and when it comes to backing up 100s of Gigabytes it's gets pretty expensive, even compared to LTO and SuperDLT drives. Has anyone actually experienced a real DR scenerio with LiveVault?

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