Product Reviews

Backup Gets Better

A familiar tool gets a facelift and new functions.

Veritas has a long history of providing reliable backup technology for precious data. Backup Exec 9.0 not only meets the same standard of reliability as its earlier products, but has added new wrinkles that make it more functional and easy to use.

The Backup Exec core first gets installed on a “media server.” Next, a remote agent is required on every server to be backed up. To increase functionality, modules—such as SQL Server, Exchange, SharePoint, Oracle and so on—are added to the media server.

The most notable change to Backup Exec is the interface, which has been revamped. The interface now has a Web page look and feel, with a quick launch links area on the left for common functions.

Reports are generated in XML format, set up with collapsible sections for each selection backed up, making them a whole lot easier to read and review. Failed sections of the job show up in red, making it easier to locate problem areas of the backup. And since the reports are XML, they can be easily incorporated into a more comprehensive management solution.

Backup Exec’s functionality has improved in other key areas as well. Notably, SharePoint Portal Server 2001 backup is now more flexible. You can restore individual dashboards and documents, rather than the all or nothing restore in 8.0. The Exchange Agent allows Single Instance Storage of attachments when backing up individual mailboxes (no more backing up 15 copies of the same attachment), and allows restoration of individual public folders.

Veritas Backup Exec
Backup Exec’s new interface is a welcome improvement. (Click image to view larger version.)

Those familiar with previous versions of Backup Exec will have a minor learning curve. Media, devices, selections, and jobs are configured as before. One cool addition is the ability to do test runs, so you can identify whether the job will pass or fail before chewing up resources for the actual job.

Some curious little gotchas came up during my evaluation. For Exchange, the Exchange Administration tools must be installed on the media server. For SQL, you might need to go into the Enterprise Manager tool, select the properties of the database you’re backing up, choose the Options tab and set the Recovery Model to Full. By default, SQL Server creates new databases in Simple recovery mode.

Veritas has, with Backup Exec 9, also released an updated version of ExecView. With previous versions of Backup Exec, you couldn’t see all servers at once, forcing admins to connect to each one and review its status. ExecView puts all the servers in server groups for a collective review. You can also drill down, look at job status and histories, and acknowledge alerts as they come in. This tool is strictly a viewer, so you can’t schedule jobs or configure devices, but it does cut down on the amount of time spent reviewing servers.

Backup Exec earns a big thumbs-up. By cleaning up the interface and improving the reports, Veritas has taken a proven product and made it better by making it easier to use.

About the Author

Rick A. Butler, MCSE+I, is the Director of Information Services for the United States Hang Gliding Association.

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Reader Comments:

Wed, Feb 1, 2006 Anonymous Anonymous

Sharepoint 2003 it's a commercial fake addin, search on web for details.

Thu, Oct 14, 2004 Jim B Canada

Horrible.....

Unfortunately we had to upgrade to the new version due to Windows 2003 server and its been painful...

The execview interface is pathetic.. The old version was so clean and easy to read, the new version is a slow unreliable mess.... Try using it over VPN, that is a real slow and painful experience.. Only program I have ever seen that could actually hang XP...

Needless to say,,,, our experience will be short lived.. The customer service is brutal and to boot they decided to charge for open database feature.. Something that was free in 8.6 now you have to pay a ridiculous amount for a license to backup Lotus Notes, and another license for SQL and another and another , well you get the point....

Brutal,,,

Wed, Mar 24, 2004 Anonymous Anonymous

We uninstalled this product and ate the purchase price. Never ever worked as advertised. Went to ultrabac.

Wed, Feb 25, 2004 Todd OH

Works well when it is works. Unfortunately it craps out every few weeks to a couple of months and needs a full reinstall. Installation takes hours because of the long list of poorly organized patches that require reboots between each patch. Schedule yourself for an all-nighter if you need to do this. Don't even get me started on the tape driver conflicts. Backup Exec was great when Segate owned it, but reliability has been nonexistant since Veritas took it over.

Tue, Nov 18, 2003 M. Oleson Ga

Ummmm, we literally lost thousands on this product above before we found UltraBac and rolled it out enterprise wide!

Mon, Nov 17, 2003 Marc Missouri

I've found that Version 9 is completely unreliable. I repeatedly have jobs that never complete, it just remains in a running status. There are multiple issues with multi tape units and-or SDLT and LTO drives. The Veritas support has gone down hill. You are lucky if you can talk to a level 1 tech with in an hour. In most of my installations I have reverted back to 8.6 or switch to another product. It's a shame, because 9.0 has some great features, but I know that I can sleep at night in fear of a bad backup due to 9.0.

Wed, Aug 20, 2003 Robert South Florida

Its not very compatable with older versions. I don't need to upgrade all my servers, but I would like to be able to monitor them.

Thu, Aug 14, 2003 Ron Rosenkoetter Kansas

>> Veritas has, with Backup Exec 9, also released an updated version of ExecView. With previous versions of Backup Exec, you couldn’t see all servers at once, forcing admins to connect to each one and review its status. <

Just a quick note. Exec-View 2.5 existed before this, and worked just fine showing all Backup Servers at once (8.6 and below). It was a much cleaner and easier to read interface than Exec-View 3.1 too, in my opinion

Thu, Aug 14, 2003 Ron Rosenkoetter Kansas

Does the reviewer actually USE Backup-Exec 9.0 on a day-to-day basis. Did he use Backup-Exec 8.6 on a day-to-day basis before this??

Backup-Exec 9.0 is nothing more than a fancy new interface which actually LOSES features from 8.6. Unfortunately, I HAVE to migrate to it in order to backup our new Windows 2003 servers. The only thing that is nice is the Test Run feature. Does everyone else manually inventory their tapes everytime they get changed? (or maybe no one uses overwrite protection so it doesn't matter). In 8.6, I set up a pre-job command to inventory the tapes automatically before backup on Friday (the day we change tapes). Worked fine in 8.6. In 9.0, the pre-job command runs and gets SCHEDULED for that time, and usually ends up running AFTER the original job. Veritas was unable to help me to get this to work right. Again, it worked fine in 8.6. I finally had to schedule a inventory job using Task Scheduler. How ugly is that? Bunch of little features are gone too. I used to be able to right-click on a scheduled job, and change the schedule. Now I can only do that in Job Setup, so I have to memorize the Job name in the Monitor tab, and then go find it in the Job Setup tab, and then drill down into the Job properties. Just a lot of extra work. And don't get me started on Exec-View 3.1. It is SO UGLY and hard to get working (I can no longer use my perfectly fine Exec-View 2.5 either with 9.0).

Wed, Aug 13, 2003 Mike Tampa

The product is good, but the interface, IMO is clumsey compared to the old interface (8.6). Yucky over done GUI. But on the lighter side, it is faster than 8.6 was by far. With a Power Vault LTO on a Adaptec 29160 (and Adaptec Drivers) I was getting backups speeds that were close to 600 Megs per minute through the Exchange information store and 1.6 Gig per minute on the normal file system. Now that is quick!!! I also don't like the reporting system. You have to view source on the report page to see WHERE the backup went wrong. That is crappy. OFO and AOFO must be setup correctly as well or you will end up with all types of resource errors. You have to let BE choose where it will place the static volume and then tell it only to use between 4 and 40% percent of free space on the volume. (this worked the best for me after alot of trial and error). But as I said, good product, just needs better documentation and a cleaner GUI.

Wed, Aug 13, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Glad it worked for you BUT... 300 meg download "fix".. 20 meg download "fix" and 2 "hotfixes" of less than 1 meg each and the !@#E@ thing still does not back up automatically in a new Dell server to DLT.. works fine when forced to do a backup.. you decide. Somethig has got to work better than this. (I hope)

Sun, Aug 10, 2003 Anonymous Anonymous

Highly recommended, with backup exec i have restored servers with 40 gb of data with a dlt in less than 2 hrs, with 8 gb less than 30 min. when used with the backup to disk even faster. Biggest asset would be to restore to different hardware with the disaster recovery option.

Wed, Aug 6, 2003 Nic Colorado

Well explained. Even a computer dummy like me understood.

Tue, Jul 29, 2003 Alain Filion Montreal

A simple interface you can rely on.

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