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Need advice on backup and restore software for everyday as well as Disaster Recovery

(as of February 2009)
I've previously asked a specific question about McAfee Data Backup:
     http://www.experts-exchange.com/Storage/Backup_Restore/Q_24165116.html

This is a more general question about backup/restore software for XP, Vista, and Windows Server 200x machines.  The focus is on backup to a server or NAS, NOT optical or tape, as recording time takes so long and/or it's a hassle to change media, that many users don't bother, and therefore don't do this effectively.

Individual homes are building multiple PC networks which individually contain music, photos, videos. email file cabinets, and other documents and files.  Internet security packages such as Norton 360 and McAfee Internet Security are adding backup client software (local or online).  Some of these clients, such as McAfee Data Backup (MDB) are free with Comcast's McAfee Internet Security software (multiple licenses for a home or business).  

I'm looking for a backup strategy recommendation for home and small offices where multiple networked computers are involved.  
The backup client must:
- be able to backup any type of file automatically
- be able to backup a shadow copy of an open file, such as Outlook PST
- have options for uncompressed and unencrypted, so individual files can easily be retrieved or copied to another system which doesn't have the backup client software installed
- be easily configurable for backing up complete folders of data
- maintain multiple versions of files, just in case of corruption
- have site lecensing or 5/10 pack licenses are available

In addition to the 'standard' requirements above, I'm also interested in an image backup strategy.  This is because of the complex software loaded on some machines (particularly in business); in the event of a disk replacement (or other disaster recovery), it can be very time-consuming to re-install the OS, reinstall all the applications, re-create all the network connections, configure all the programs (ie Internet Explorer, Firefox, Google Chrome settings, etc).

I have experience with online backup software such as Data Deposit Box (DDB) (http://tinyurl.com/3jgpvr) which fills all of the requirements above at $2/GB/month.  This meets all of the requirements above, with the exception of the ongoing cost when picture/music/video files are included.  These can be handled by adding the McAfee Data Backup client for large files (tho it doesn't do versioning).

I have some experience with Norton Ghost for imaging disk drives.  One requirement for effective use of this in business will be re-partitioning user disk drives so that there's a smaller C: partition for the OS which can be effectively Ghost-imaged (it's OK to compress the Ghost image!), and a larger D: partition to be backed up in the 'traditional' way.

For now, let's not worry about 'disaster recovery' scenarios (ie getting all the NAS or server  data offsite on a regular basis), making sure software install CDs and license keys are backed up, etc.

Sorry for the long item!  Thoughts anyone on the best way to accomplish this?
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cjnovak
Asked:
cjnovak
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2 Solutions
 
wantabe2Commented:
www.acronis.com

It is awesome & very user friendly. I highly recomend it. You can get an image of a server & then restore it to different hardware!
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Sai Prasad KinneraCommented:
There are few softwares that are available in market, i used backup exec and ca arcserve backup, and i am currently testing few other backup softwares

Arcserve backup can solve your purpose of backing up data at small office level, pricing is cheaper compare to other products.you need base, client agents(optional) and open file agents to achieve backup of files which are in use like PST and other system files, Image option and DR option

these are common opions that need you need to look at from any software that does backup.

Backup exec and commvault does work well in enterprise and large buisness and licensing is costly as well,

the more you pay for the product, the better product will be :), this is my experience

hope this helps
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SecureIPCommented:
For myself, I recommand VisionBackup. You can make different backup and you have plugin for email, bookmarks, desktop and many other thing. take a look at www.vwsolutions.com :)
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cjnovakAuthor Commented:
So far, 3 opinions....
wantabe2:  www.acronis.com
saiprasad_kinnera: CA Arcserve
SecureIP:  VisionBackup
....But I don't see how they're meeting all of my criteria.  Acronis looks interesting, but rather expensive.  VisionBackup is less, but the website has errors -- descriptions of Home and Pro are identical; so what's the difference?  Folks, I need more details!
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Sai Prasad KinneraCommented:
you can check the options i suggested in my last posting, it does suggest the things you want to, to know more you can go through below links

http://www.ca.com/us/data-loss-prevention.aspx

click on insights and documents to get more information.
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wantabe2Commented:
Basically back ups are just backups. The different backup software all has different bells & whisltes. In my IT career I've used Arcserve, CA, BAckup Exec, and now using Acronis. You are right, they all are expensive but take my word on this, here's what you need to do & how you need to do it:

1. Keep in mind the cost you or your company is willing to spend.
2. Look online & do your own research at the different software mentioned here.
3. Almost all of these products offer a 15 day evaluation perios with full capabilities.
4. Download what you think you like & once you find one you like call a sales rep.
5. Some backup software will not span tapes.

Questions you need to ask the sales rep:

1. Is the tech support for this prodcut US based or based in the country you reside in & can fully understand.
2. Is there any yearly maintenance fees
3. ARe software updates included.
4. And last but not least, tel the sales guy to sharpen his pencil. Just last week one of my co-workers talked a $39,000.00 purchase to near $14,000.00.

Listen guys, in today economy, we can get things allot cheaper if we bargin with the sales guy (but please be reaonable, they need to make some $$ too)

So, hopefully this will help you decide what you need to get. Everyone is different.
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cjnovakAuthor Commented:
saiprasad_kinnera & wantabe2, thanks for the followups.  I guess what I'm looking for is more of a "best practices" white paper which covers multiple solutions, rather than just from an individual vendor.  I don't work with one business; I consult with many, as well as more and more complicated home environments.  What I'm trying to avoid in the home environments is when people purchase software such as Norton 360, McAfee Backup, Memeo, or Retrospect, and they don't find out until they need it, that a critical file hasn't been backed up (like McAfee apparently not handling Outlook PST files -- shocking!).  They didn't know, and they come to me for recommendations.  For home environments, affordability is key.

With businesses you have more leeway for server-based products.  Yes, there are trial versions of software available, but I don't have all the time in the world to conduct my own trials -- I'm out consulting and billing.

I will look at Acronis, but I have to keep looking at alternatives.  So far, the online backup provided by Data Deposit Box gives my clients just about everything they need, plus its automatic, and by definition, offsite.  The only thing it doesn't have is an OS imaging piece for quick restore in case of disk replacement or OS boot corruption, and a simplen way to handle large files such as video -- and get copies offsite.

I was hoping to find something simpler or more consolidated, yet still practical for my clients.
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joolsCommented:
These guys may have some information to point you in the right direction.

http://www.continuitycentral.com/itdr.htm
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cjnovakAuthor Commented:
There are a lot of opinions about backup/restore and disaster recovery.  Most of the clients I work with MAY have a server, but are more likely to have peer-to-peer with an external USB/NAS disk.  The key in this marketplace is keeping things both affordable as well as automatic (if it's cumbersome to backup, the user's won't do it regularly enough to make the backups actually usable when really needed!).  Not only that, the solution has to be portable, as the backup solution also has to handle data migration when new equipment is installed.

Per another item I had, I think MS Sync Toy (http://tinyurl.com/2cu9fh) has the best possibilities as a partner to online backup from Data Deposit Box (http://tinyurl.com/3jgpvr).  Both can be set for full automatic operation, DDB can mask out large files from the online backup (JPG, MP3, AVI, etc), and SyncToy can auto-backup the large file folders (like My Documents) to a USB/NAS drive, and you don't have to pay for each client computer -- perfect for home backup.

But that's just MY opinion!
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