IT Employment

Archive SOHO data with Backup MyPC (BUMP)

Small-office users depend on reliable data backups just as much as the larger user environments. Veritas has come up with a low-cost solution with its Backup MyPC archival software. James McPherson describes how it works.

As all network administrators know, the amount of drive space users require is roughly equivalent to 10 percent more than the space they have available. Where once two or three floppies could store important data, now it will take several CDs or DLT tapes to store it all. This is as true for small offices as large ones. With CD burner prices hovering around $100 and 4-GB tape drives at $150, there are no excuses now not to have decent archives. But that hardware is worthless without a sound software package. One such archival software package is Backup MyPC (BUMP). While the name is new, this individual computer program from Veritas Corporation is based on the venerable Backup Exec software engine originated by Seagate. I will cover the installation, configuration, and use of this popular SOHO archival package in this Daily Drill Down.

Available platforms and pricing
BUMP is available for Windows 9x, Me, NT, 2000, and XP. The software, as well as older versions of Backup Exec, is often bundled with tape drives. It is available online for $79.99 on CD or $69.99 as a download. You can also download a 30-day trial version from CNET's Download.com.

Veritas has reserved the Backup Exec label for their enterprise package ($795.99; available for Windows NT, 2000, XP Pro, or Novell), which includes remote agents and integral antivirus capability. Stomp’s support verified that Backup Exec could read BUMP archives, depending on the versions involved, but that the reverse is not true. While this may prevent you from using archived files as distribution media to remote offices, it will lessen costs and help limit problems caused by incompatible backup software. Because software support from Veritas will be limited, the company recommends that you use the trial software to verify that your exact configuration will support the software before implementation.

Preparation
For the purposes of this article, I will be installing BUMP on a Windows 2000 Professional PC with an IDE CD-RW. I will assume that your computers are already networked and able to share and map drives as needed. To use BUMP to archive files on another PC, you will need to either have drive-mapping enabled or install additional copies of BUMP. The process is similar regardless of OS or hardware, although you may need to consult your product manual for any device-specific settings (tape compression, speed, etc).

Installation and configuration
The initial installation is as painless as it gets. Run the setup program, and point it at the directory on which you want to install BUMP. The only decision you'll need to make is whether you want to restrict the use of BUMP to a single user when installed on Windows 2000 or XP. If you do wish to limit access, I recommend installing the software as Administrator to prevent any problems down the road when the account BUMP is attached to is deleted.

Once the files are copied and you have restarted your PC, you may need to configure your archive device (if the device was not automatically configured during the BUMP installation). If you plan on using a hard drive or CD-RW, you can skip this configuration step, as it is primarily for tape drives. Simply go to the Start menu and choose the Configure Devices option from the BUMP menu.

BUMP's Device Configuration Menu will show whether your archive devices are recognized (Figure A). Check the Controller tab to ensure that any device-specific PCI or ISA SCSI controller cards are detected. You should refer to your storage medium’s user manual for any device-specific settings (compression or retensioning, for example).

Figure A
BUMP detected both a DVD ROM and a CD-RW on this client.


That elusive FireWire
The Controller tab may not show anything at all if you are using FireWire (IEEE 1394), USB, or IDE devices. My test machines had USB, IDE, and FireWire controllers, but had no entries. If your destination shows up as a lettered hard drive in My Computer, you will be fine.

Archiving files
The BUMP startup screen (Figure B) will guide you on to the individual wizards. The wizards are described in the included manual and lead you through the various configurations, one step at a time. Although accessing the wizards from the BUMP startup page is convenient, I expect most people will choose to use the primary application window, since it gives you more flexibility.

Figure B
Compared to the main application window, the BUMP startup screen wizards are limited to “typical” settings.


Configuring a backup job
The main application window (Figure C) starts in Backup mode. To create a backup, select the files and folders to be restored using the browser window. Now use the top radio buttons to indicate whether the files to be backed up will be part of a full or partial backup. Click Start to begin the backup or Schedule to schedule the backup for a later time.

Figure C
You can configure and run the entire backup process from the main window.


Setting up the backup is a no-brainer. What does take a bit more thought is choosing the type of backup to run. The three types of backups are full, incremental, and differential. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. (Click here for an explanation of the types of backups.)

Archive location: Device or file?
Use the selection dropdown list (at the bottom of the main application window) to specify where you want your archive to go. BUMP has two basic modes for storing archives: Backup Files and Backup Device. Using a Backup Device allows BUMP to span media automatically during the archival process. This means that if your archive will take multiple CDs, Zip disks, or tapes, you do not need to do anything special other than swap them out as prompted and label them clearly for storage. If you archive to a file and the file is larger than your removable media, the backup will abort. Also, when you archive to a file on your hard drive and then want to transfer it to an undersized removable media, you will need another utility, like WinZip or PKZip, that will split the files into smaller, easily reassembled pieces.

On the flip side, archive files (with the .qic extension), are easily duplicated and relocated. If your archives are small relative to your storage media and your media is rewriteable, you can readily move or arrange them at your leisure, deleting or adding as the opportunity presents itself. It is also faster to restore data from a hard drive than removable media, but that is slowly changing as high-speed CD drives become more common and the cost of high-speed tape drives drops.

Quick tip
Use archive files if you have a separate hard drive, not a partition, set aside for storing archives or if you are using a CD-RW drive to perform small jobs that you expect to delete later, like an out-of-date partial backup. Otherwise, archive devices are usually the best choice.

Options
The Options menu, located at the bottom right of the main application window allows you to specify:
  • ·        The amount of compression desired.
  • ·        How to deal with media that already contain an archive.
  • ·        Any passwords for the archive.
  • ·        The type of partial backup needed.

The file compression option is handy when you begin to reach the limits of your media, but it is rather limited. During a test of BUMP, a directory containing documents, spreadsheets, and images could be compressed to only 80 percent of its original size. This is a rather weak compression compared to WinZip and PKZip’s ability to nearly double that compression ratio.

Scheduling backups
A backup schedule should balance three factors: cost, time, and necessity. A deep library of archives, combined with off-site storage, can be expensive both from media and storage costs. Frequent backups require time, especially when media spanning is involved, and should be done when the data is not being modified. But if you have very sensitive data that changes constantly and the loss of it would prove troublesome, if not disastrous, the expense and effort are justified.

To schedule a backup, click the Schedule button (from within the main application window). While in the Schedule Job window (Figure D), select the day of the week, the time, and the user/password required to run the backup.

Figure D
Click OK, and the backup will run on the configured date(s).


Restoring files
From the Restore window (Figure E), restoring files is easier than archiving them. There are three options to choose from for restoration source: Folders, Media, or Devices. The Media view will show you all the archives currently catalogued on the computer. Folder view gives you access to archive files not part of the catalogue, and Device view does the same thing for backup devices.

Figure E
Restoring to an alternate location is always the safest bet.


Restoration consists of selecting the files and folders you want restored from the browser window. BUMP gives you the option to restore files to an alternate location, and I would heartily recommend doing so. More often than not, you will find yourself restoring the file the users “think” is the last one they were working on, only to find out the file you just overwrote on their hard drive was the most recent version. By restoring to an alternate location, you avoid the hassle of restoring files you just overwrote in addition to the one you were originally searching for.

The Compare tab
Not all archive utilities will place the file comparison feature in plain sight. Thus, the Compare tab (see Figure E) is a very useful tool, especially when manually archiving or restoring large groups of files. Select the backup source and compare it either to the files currently on the drive (using the Folder view), catalogued archives (Media view), or to an uncataloged device (Device View). The result is an easily read and stored text file.

Quick tip
Anytime you are placing incremental archives in long-term storage, include a copy of the comparison report either on CD or hard copy. This will help you identify which media you should use without having to recatalog multiple archives.

Network archival
BUMP can support small networks, but in a limited fashion. As long as you have file sharing enabled and your BUMP computer has the remote directories mapped, it can perform backups and archives for that data. The down side is that you have all the security issues of having your folders mapped and an “all or nothing” approach to archiving the remote files, with little to no dynamic input from the users.

If you don’t want to risk drive mapping or want to provide the users with more control, you can upgrade to an archive tool that supports Agents, like the full Backup Exec. An agent is an application that runs on the client PC as a service. The archive server will then connect to the remote machines running the agents to perform the scheduled activities. Because the agent is typically managed at each system, the end users can add and remove directories from the archive process without needing access to the archive server.

For more information
You can find more information on Backup MyPC and the 30-day trial software at Stomp. The enterprise variant, Backup Exec, is detailed on the Veritas Web site.
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