Windows

Five Windows Server backup tools you can count on

Introduction

If you have a Windows server and you're not backing it up, you are tempting fate. It's only a matter of time before something brings that server down and takes your data with it.

Luckily, several reliable backup solutions are available for the Windows Server environment. They aren't perfect, but they can be depended upon to keep your data safe.

Note: If you'd prefer to view this information as a blog post, check out this entry in our Five Apps blog.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

28 comments
Kevin@Quealy.net
Kevin@Quealy.net

Backup Assist is a great backup program for a small business. It's features (support for Exchange and SQL backups) with it's comparatively low price makes it a great fit for a small business.

Jack-M
Jack-M

I find these tools indispensable(sp?) in my day to day ops. They are perhaps some of the least heralded and most useful tools we have at our disposal. JackM Bell+Bell Labs training.

parthasarathi.4u
parthasarathi.4u

Hi, I wanted to backup my desktops & Laptop date over the network, which one is best in Backup solution available, if i am going for 150 users or more. Need some suggestions. Thanks, Partha(Dassy)

Gisabun
Gisabun

Notice CA ArcServe wasn't included. Not really surprised. I found it to be sucky [last time I used it 2 years ago]. For a small business [it's not really enterprise class], there is also NovaBackup. Can handle SQL Server, Exchange, etc.

FTAdmin
FTAdmin

I really like the ease and simplicity of setting up ShadowProtect. Along with that, it also works quite quickly and faithfully--at least on my systems. Digging through the archives is simple and hassle-free for when recovering single files. The only thing I have yet to do is to test the HeadStart Restore (VM) feature. I have it running (again, easy to setup), but have yet to test it.

bboswell
bboswell

Yes it works, and yes it clears exchange logs...but it has one fatal flaw: your entire backup is confined to one large file that is easily corruptible during the backup process and hard to move around a network unless you use a command line utility like ESEUTIL. By the way, if you set up Exchange and Symantec Backup Exec properly, it clears the exchange logs, too ;) Then your incremental backups during the week only back up the logs (and the entire backup goes much quicker!). I have heard that Windows Backup in server 2008 and up is better, but I haven't investigated it yet.

sossupport
sossupport

BackupAssist is targeted for small business. It seems very reliable and the log reporting is great. quarter the cost of Acronis and Shadowprotect

mflynn
mflynn

We've been using Appassure Replay and it includes granular recovery, deduplication, and creating VMs for DR and keeping them up to date. Saved my bacon a few times.

davidthornton
davidthornton

Retrospect is a glaring omission from your list. Although it started out as a Mac-only backup utility (I started using it in 1992), they made the jump to Windows more than a decade ago, and it's as robust a tool as anyone would expect. My current installation backs up multiple servers and all the clients on the network; it's not cheap, but it's no toy either.

Computer Dave
Computer Dave

I've been using Shadow Protect for over 2 years on 3 different servers: SBS 2003, Windows Sotrage Server 2003/64-bit, and Server 2008/64-bit. I do a full backup either once a week or once a month then snapshot images every 15 minutes during business hours. I store everything on external USB drives, including 2 sets that shuttle to/from home for offsite protection. It takes about 5 minutes to recover a file. I love it!

William.Parris
William.Parris

Active@ disk image is an imaging program for either workstations or servers. It can run scheduled full backup images of a server and has a number of interesting options. It works quite well, is fast, and you can even explore the created image and just recover individual files if necessary. My brother is running it on 6 servers in 3 offices and is impressed with it. He previously used Acronis at one of the offices. Maybe the best part is the price, $50 to $100 per machine, server or workstation, it doesn't matter.

chrisl317
chrisl317

For years people have spent untold amounts of money on products they don't need. I've always told people to learn how to use the OS first. Myself, I find nothing wrong with using the backup software MS provides. The main thing is due diligence on your backups and checking that the backups work if needed.

scristaldi
scristaldi

With reference to Acronis their pc backup 'was' good but now they put out junk. And for servers, forget it. They called me months ago and talked me info trying demo of SBS2003 backup/recovery. After two weeks on nonsense back and forth work and numerous downloads and this and that.... did not even come close and then the calls stopped. Be very careful. I would recommend Shadow Protect. It worked!!!

Charlie Alvarez
Charlie Alvarez

With System Recovery you can do backup of everything on a server, pick specific files or folders, select by type, etc. And yes you can restore a single file if you want it to, with Symantec System Recovery you can ,if you have Microsoft Exchange Server for example, you can do a granular restoration of a single email on a single mailbox. Yo can transform the image file to a VM, add the image file and make it a read only virtual drive so information can be available to your users while the issue is there and you manage to restore the image to another server not even with the same hardware or like I wrote before to a VM, in 25% of the time that would take you to restore from most tape backup software.

scott
scott

Just wanted to point out that Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery now has a new name, Symantec System Recovery 2011. And also it works well with Backup Exec which is a traditional tape based backup product(although you can use it to backup to disk or some other destination). System Recovery Provides the bare-metal restore capability. We use both Backup Exec and System Recovery on all our taditional physical servers so that we have redundant backups.

info
info

Jack must have been in a hurry when he put this article together. He talks about Symantec Backup Exec (which IS an excellent product) but shows the pictures for Backup Exec System Recovery, which is an 'imaging' application like Acronis. It is also excellent if you want to backup an entire server at a time. You can't pick and choose what you back up with BESR, but you CAN pick and choose what you restore. I'd still be using it, but it never did take a liking to our main server. BESR is also much simpler to use than BackUp Exec, which you can get lost in if you're new to backup software. I see he's listed ShadowProtect. I was looking at AppAssure for a new 'tapeless/diskless' system, but a consultant I hired to second-guess me suggested an approach using R-Drive and Syncrify. It's very inexpensive compared to the 'big names', and looks good enough that I'll be giving it a try.

That One Smartass Guy
That One Smartass Guy

I do not know everything that one can possibly know about server backup software. So I, for one, appreciate this article.

TrubbleMaker
TrubbleMaker

..and not even a single mention of ShadowProtect from Storagecraft.... :(

norwich-computers
norwich-computers

I'll also use a batch file, incorporating XCOPY and ROBOCOPY commands - which will also email me a log using BLAT, a dinkly little mail transport tool. It's free too!

Gisabun
Gisabun

And if you read it, it's says for non-commercial purposes. Maybe fine for home use but for a business you have to pay. "Advanced Edition" doesn't exist now. More like $300 for server class backup.

norwich-computers
norwich-computers

Yes, we use BESR on some of our clients servers and have found it to be pretty stable. It replaced Backup Exec.

Gisabun
Gisabun

Windows Backup as a near last resort. Last restort is Xcopy and/or Robocopy. :-)

Gisabun
Gisabun

You want to backup a [critical] server with XCopy and/or Robocopy? No compression? No [real] verification? Try backing up a SQL or mail server or if a file is in use.

konservativ
konservativ

For more than small business there is Paragon Drive Backup Server 10. Most certainly not free.

norwich-computers
norwich-computers

It didn't. We use these tools as *additional* backup tools. That's why I said we *also* use...