Product Reviews

SQL-BackTrack for SQL Server 3.0

Back up the back end.

BMC positions SQL-BackTrack as the backup product you turn to when you outgrow the built-in facilities of SQL Server, and when file-system based backup products won't do the job. I had a chance to work with a late beta copy of version 3.0, which is shipping now.

The product was easy to install and use, with an architecture that uses an agent on each database server and a central console to manage backups. I was able to easily back up a database or a group of databases, and restoring them was simple as well. Backups have a lot of flexibility, including types of backup (differential, full, transaction log, and more) and targets (local disk, network disk, tape, and high-end alternatives such as Tivoli StorageManager and Veritas NetBackup). Backups can stripe across multiple devices for speed, and open databases will be backed up properly, meaning you don't need to build in downtime for backup.

Once you get to the restore side of the equation, you'll find one of the big value-adds here: you can "extract an object" to restore only part of a backup. That means you can select a table (or multiple tables) as well as a view, stored procedure, or other object, and restore just that piece of the database. Lots of advanced situations are handled automatically here. For example, if you take a full backup, alter the schema of a table, and then make a differential backup, you can still extract just that table and restore it complete with the schema changes.

Other features include "dry run" testing for every operation, compressed and/or encrypted backups, "logical migration" (back up a SQL Server 7.0 database and move it to a SQL Server 2000 server), and full support for multiple instances.

Pricing is based on the amount of data you're managing. The base price is good for up to 25GB of data, which should give you some indication of where BMC sees the entry level for this product. Certainly it's not what you'd choose to work with the instance of MSDE that holds the data for your personal Web site. But if you're running SQL Server in a corporate data center, and looking for an advanced backup tool, it fits the bill nicely.

About the Author

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

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