Backup solutions - what are people using?

We currently use HP Data Protector as our backup solution. It can back up directly to LTO5 tape from other machines and generally does the job well, however our version is about 5 years old and does not play nicely with VMware 5.0 as a result. I’ve tried using the VDR appliance but it just isn’t reliable enough for me.

I’m at the stage where I need to recommend either:

  1. reinstating maintenance and upgrade to the latest version, or
  2. scrapping it and going with something else (eg. Backup Exec)

What do you guys use for backup? We have an IBM LTO5 tape library and about 15 agents that we grab stuff from during the nightly backup process. The VMware backups would be a separate tape set.

Crashplan at home.

At work? NetBackup vSomething. For quite a while, it was old enough that it couldn’t back up Server 2012, which significantly hampered our adoption of that OS (to the point that we’re jumping right to R2 where we can).

My van has a perfectly serviceable reverse gear, I don’t have any need to add any aftermarket products besides a Mk I eyeball.


At work, ARCServe and VDP. ARCServe backs up DB’s and specific files. If it’s not on the list, there’s no guarantee it will get backed up. That being said, we have 2 VDP appliances for the VM’s (All VM’s in the environment except 2 physical servers. The rest are ESX blades). VDP is straight to disk and ARCServe is straight to tape. I’ve toyed with deduplication with ARCServe but I have too much on my plate and throw backups to an underlying. He hasn’t done anything with it since. And the VDP thing is tough. We have an appliance for production and testing environments. Prod works flawlessly, but testing seems to constantly hang up.

Personally I’d like to switch to Backup Exec like we had at my last job. It was much more stable.

Carbonite for desktops and servers - we have enough discrete locations it was cloud or nuttin’

Production databases for our hosted customers go to a SAN, replicated to a matching SAN at our DR site.

Lots of customers really hated the latest round of changes to BackupExec, so beware.

NetBackup is probably better for your needs but is expensive.

If you’re not married to tape you could look at some disk-based backup solutions (Data Domain, NetBackup appliances, etc).

I hear the IRS has a pretty good system in place. You should check with them.


And we have testimony in front of Congress that you’re not liable if it crashes!

Home: Crashplan for the offsite and rsnapshot for the local backup.

At work: I used BackupExec some time ago and it was ok. If I was planning a system from scratch I’d go for disk backed storage if possible and I’d go for rsnapshot (for unix boxes) or Crashplan (others). My experience with tape based backups is that they can be a major PITA come recovery time, assuming they work at all. In at least one case the tapes written on one drive could only be read on that drive… that was un-fun.

I really should put something in place. Right now it’s mostly just “manual-copy all the interesting stuff to the Linux media box since it’s got the most storage space”, but I really want to set up a central home file server or something with attached backup drives. That, however, costs money.

Yeah at home I just run ntbackup to a second drive (since my main rig is only powered up for an hour or two every few weeks these days).

I understand VDP is vastly better than VDR but it requires vSphere 5.1, and I’ve (a) been told that upgrading from 5.0 is quite involved and (b) we therefore don’t have the budget. I’m still going to do some research tho, including finding out if the guy who told me that in the first place has revised his opinion. :wink:

Backup Exec was generally more user-friendly and logical in its processes than DP, although the last version I had much to do with was 9.x. DP is a lot more enterprisey and script-reliant, but is very stable and is well established in our environment.

I hadn’t considered NetBackup and yes @Lee_Ars it does look like it would better suit our needs than BE, mainly because it supports multiple streams like DP does for us now. We are married to tape media at the moment as we do off-site storage, but I do have a DR VM with a staging volume for things like SQL and Exchange backups, and shadow copies turned on for our main file shares (that has saved me a lot of work at the cost of a few GBs).

@Darktan, I’ve had bad experiences with CA products and service in the past few years so ARCserve was never an option. :wink:

NetBackup definitely supports multiple streams, yeah. Its biggest problem is that if gets expensive as hell once you start adding on the features you probably need!

Yeah… it might be more cost effective to just reinstate the maintenance on DP.


CrashPlan is free between your own computers (or yours and a friends). You can install it on the media box and on your other boxes and then configure it to automatically back up the critical stuff.

That’s pretty much how my Windows boxes get their critical files backed up to my Linux server.

Hm. Crashplan looks kind of like a glorified Dropbox.

It’s not. It’s not at all.

Unless all you’re using Dropbox for is a single-client offsite backup, with all of your local stuff in a single directory (unless you’re getting tricky with symlinks and such) for a relatively small amount of data.

As a rough idea of what it can do, for me I’m using it to:

Windows: back up critical files to (say) /backups/mine
Family: back up their files to /backups/family (separate partition)
Server: Back up everything I can’t trivially replace to Crashplan online - some 350 GB and climbing - backups taken at 5 minute intervals, and I can reach back through all the changes at the granularity I chose at backup time. I pay less than $5 a month for this.

I used it for a small business to back up all their key files on each system to at least 2 other systems, and everything that was critical also got backed up to their home computer.

One thing to keep in mind for backups is disk encryption. Our systems at work are partial encrypted by default and our boss didn’t trust our in house IT to back up some of the laptops (He also didn’t believe in teaching people to use the network drives…) That encryption made it all but impossible to do any backups during off hours. If the user wasn’t logged in, it just wouldn’t work.

Oh and now that I have a decent internet connection, I’m thinking of calling my buddy back in the home country and seeing if he wants to do a Crashplan system and use each other as off site backups. We both have spare systems around so we could build a dedicated NAS for each other.

The need to look at Open Source backup solutions prompted me with a couple of choices.

I tried ClearOS and BackupPC, but it required a lot of faffing around, so it got kicked.

Then I downloaded Ubuntu, and installed BackupPC on it. (Reason for it is that BackupPC also can access SMB shares for backing up files+folders, giving me less schlepp to configure laptops/desktops).

Faffed around with it, but tossed BackupPC out as its backup function doesn’t work nicely. If you want to use other transfer methods (eg tar, nfs etc) you need to do a lot of faffing around, especially on Windows things, which I want to avoid as far as possible.

Googled around for a bit, then settled for urBackup. This backup utilizes client-server technology, so basically you install the server (also on Ubuntu), configure it, and leave it. Then you plonk the client program onto the PC’s you want to backup. (The client comes in x64 and x86 flavours, and two versions, one version shows taskbar icon, other version doesn’t). It is also possible to change permissions for the taskbar icon on the server itself, so that users may start their own backups, but they won’t be able to change any other settings :

Installation is fairly straightforward for the client. (Clients are available for Linux, Windows and Mac OS X)

Once I added the wildcards for the files to backup and the source directory, I ran into a problem as it babbled about some nonexistent shadow folder somewhere. After faffing around with shadow folders and the such with the vssadmin command, I tried again, only to see the same error message.

Only then did I notice that the source path was \Users:\Documents* didn’t read the examples properly… and changed it to C:\Users…

…and the backup went through flawlessly. The GUI frontend have some nifty features, and the Activities screen gives you a live indication on progress, ETA, speed and the such.

It is also highly configurable - to bandwidth management, number of backup sessions and so on, so you can really go overboard with a server that can handle maximum backup loads. And if you’ve got a wee-wee server (i3 CPU maybe?) you can throttle it down so that the i3 CPU doesn’t get overwhelmed by the deluge of backups.

You can make incremental backups as well, although I prefer to do a full backup after day’s end, saves me with faffing around with incremental restores… Although I still have to see how things pan out with a daily backup vs incremental backup.

My idea is to put together a proof-of-concept system, install it at HO, and leave it running for a week or so, then see what happens to storage space during that time, then do fine tuning if needed.

And backup via Internet is also possible, though I am wary of opening the urBackup port to the Internet, I’ll rather do this kind of thing via a secure VPN tunnel (openVPN etc).

Restoring from a backup can be done in two ways : direct restore (which puts the file(s) back in their place (good for a cryptolocker infection) and a zip file download.

Another wow feature is this :

Seems you can make Virtual Hard Drive image backups of client computers, but be cautioned, it can (and will) eat up a lot of hard drive real-estate! :laughing:

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Another thing - when restoring, you can either do a full restore, or drill down into the backup to the specific folder or file you want to restore if you don’t want to overwrite a ton of files…