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Backup Exec, Arcserve, Commvault

Posted on 2011-09-18
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I am in the process of designing a DR solution for a one of our clients and I am comparing the backup and restore capabilities of each of the potential software solutions on offer.  If i was using a DLT tape deck and the company had a fire, what are the requirements for restoring the data from the tapes?  Am i right to think that tape drives only work with certain DLT drives?  If i had a compatile DTL drive, could I just re-install Backup Exec  on a standalone server and start restoring my data without any special configurations?

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Question by:cmatchett
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Expert Comment

by:acbxyz
ID: 36556483
I don't know Backup Exec, but with Arcserve you need to restore the database from another media but drive or "merge" the tape(s) back, which takes long time but without any problems.
Bare metal restore on the other hand can cause problems, at least older Arcserve versions couldn't do this proper.

Your tapes always need an appropriate drive.
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Author Comment

by:cmatchett
ID: 36556501
Could you just re-install arcserve on a new server and be able to restore your data from the tape without needing any license files etc?
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Expert Comment

by:acbxyz
ID: 36556515
As far as I remember there is a grace period or test license integrated.
But licensing is (was at least with v12.5) no special file but a code which can simply be typed back in.
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Author Comment

by:cmatchett
ID: 36556529
Imagine then we were in a business continuity site with 6 standalone servers that are service packed and ready to restore the data to.  I am assuming I just re-install arcserve on another machine, the restore machne and can start performing my restore?  Theres no requirement for anything from the old configuration of the previoius arcserve installation.  What about all my backup sets?  Where's the record of them?
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Expert Comment

by:acbxyz
ID: 36556713
Usually you backup your backup software or better complete server, too. The first tape with this has to be merged manually. All you need to do this should be the installation disks of your backup software and the backup tapes.

The exact procedure differs between products. But it is not a bad idea to save your backup program and its database on a dvd or usb stick so it can be read by any computer with build-in-features.
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Author Comment

by:cmatchett
ID: 36557215
Is there an encryption required to restore the data?  Is the data secured on the tape through encryption, otherwise anyone could restore the data?
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Author Comment

by:cmatchett
ID: 36557216
encryption key** required
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Expert Comment

by:acbxyz
ID: 36557268
In our case we don't use full data encryption, just an ordinary password for backup software. But it is possible either through software or if supported by hardware. LTO Ultrium for example supports crossvendor hardware encryption since lto4.
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Author Comment

by:cmatchett
ID: 36557280
So if you were to use software encryption, does that mean that having the original installation is even more important?  If using hardware, having the same tape drive that supports the same encryption is crucial?
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Expert Comment

by:acbxyz
ID: 36557357
I don't know much about this encryption, but I suppose it is a little key file which can be stored external on usb stick or similar.
In case of LTO Ultrium, since lto4 hardware encryption is built in all tape drives and all of them are compatible.
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Accepted Solution

by:
SelfGovern earned 500 total points
ID: 36559958
1) If you're on DLT drives still, realize that DLT does not have the strongest reputation for reliability.  Problems like lost leaders and other failure modes are well-known in the industry.   LTO is the current tape tachnology, not only still being developed, but much faster than DLT, and much more reliable.

2) Many backup applications in conjunction with supported tape drives support "boot from tape" or something similar.   If  this option is being used, the tape is created with all the necessary bits to do a bare-metal restore using only the tape -- no floppies, CDs, etc.   See for instance HP's One Button Disaster Recovery -- http://h18006.www1.hp.com/products/storageworks/drs/index.html   This can be a time saver since you don't have to do an OS or backup application load before the restore.

3) If you have used any kind of encryption on a tape, you MUST have the encryption key (or passphrase used to create the key).  If not, the tape is as good as running a car with a flat tire in the Indy 500... you won't get anywhere you need to be.   Keep the key/passphrase in your procedures book, with a copy to your DR site, or exchange the keys with the DR site using some second encryption protocol that allows you to securely transmit the keys between sites.

4) Quantum made DLT drives.   Supposedly, all of them could read their generation of tapes and at least a generation back.   There were some hiccups when they went from DLT to SDLT that might be an issue for you.   LTO tapes have the advantage of being made by several companies with extensive interoperability testing.   Each drive can read back two generations and write to the previous generation... regardless of whether you have an Maxell tape written in an HP drive and being read in an IBM drive (for instance) or vice versa.
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