I have been a Veritas Backup Exec user for a long time (since before it was a Symantec or Veritas product), and have been using it to back up my servers and clients at home for many years. But I recently installed a NAS (a SNAP Server), both for additional shared storage, and to facilitate disk based backup (no more tapes, yeah!). The idea is to perform local backups from all servers and desktops to the NAS, and then mirror the NAS offsite as well.
The only problem is that Backup Exec does not support my NAS, and, as per the Veritas reps I spoke to, this is not planned any time soon either. So, time for a new backup option. And so …
A colleague of mine persuaded me to try Backup for Workgroups, a disk based backup solution that will backup any number of Windows machines (both servers and desktops). Backup for Workgroups is a tiny, intuitive, and very inexpensive little app (no bloatware here!). Installation is a two step process (both steps use the same installer), first you need to define a machine as the Data Repository Manager (this machine actually writes and reads backup data), and then the installer is run on each machine to be backed up.
I made a mistake during the first part of the install, I hit Next too quickly and ended up pointing to a local drive as the backup repository. The management application has no screen to specify the repository location (which actually makes sense, that is not a setting you’d typically change frequently). A quick look into the application folder revealed an intuitively named INI file containing a single entry, the repository location. I stopped the service, changed the path to the NAS UNC, restarted the service, and problem solved. There is something incredibly compelling about software that works intuitively.
The first client I installed was the server itself, and upon completing the installation I was prompted to perform an initial backup (using a default backup set that backs up all local files). The backup run quickly, without any errors, even backing up open files and SQL Server. When it had completed I run the backup again, just to see what it would do, and was promptly informed that there was no files to backup (backups are incremental).
I’ve since backed up several machines (and scheduled nightly backups on each), and have also restored files (just to make sure that it does, in fact, restore, and yes, it does). I’ve made modifications to files and backed them up repeatedly, and when restoring I am presented with the file history and can select which version of the file I want. I deliberately caused a backup failure (powered down the NAS mid backup) and was immediately notified of the failure via e-mail. I also set up file retention for 180 days, so that if files are deleted on any machine they’ll not be purged from the repository on the NAS for that many days.
I’ve not had the chance to play with every option and feature that Backup For Workgroups offers, but my initial view of the software is very positive. It does exactly what it is supposed to do, is highly intuitive and lightweight, and it makes disk based backup practical and highly doable. And at $99 per client, Backup For Workgroups is amazingly cost effective for small networks. This one is highly recommended.

3 thoughts

  1. Ben,
    I’ve installed a RAID array on all my servers to prevent disk corruption, and I’m doing a backup on an external server through a secure internet connection. If your servers get lost in a fire, all your data is lost as well!

  2. Wim, that is why I mentioned offsite mirroring. BFW supports mirroring, but the NAS itself can do this so that is what I am using.

  3. Might want to check out Ultrabac if you ever need an enterprise class solution.
    I’ve been a long time user of Backup Exec too (since Seagate owned it) and I’m abandoning it in favor of Ultrabac with Veratas’ recent switch to Symentec.

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