If you are a Systems Administrator for a small or medium-sized business, you should definitely make sure you have a good backup and recovery plan. At the company I first worked for in IT, our daily backups were not even verified only a daily basis. Once, no one noticed that the backups were failing until 2 months later!
Thankfully, nothing ever happened to our data during that time, but it was still an absolutely terrible way to manage data backups. Finally, we upgraded our servers to Windows Server 2003 and I was put in charge of data backup and recovery.
The first thing I did was setup a proper backup and archive system to make sure we could recover data from up to 4 hours before a system crash till 6 months back. We also made sure to back up all of our severs, not just the file server.
If you’re looking for good software to backup your Windows servers, here is a list of programs that I would recommend. Prices vary, but you need to ask yourself how much is your data worth if you were to lose it?
Backup Exec for Windows Servers has to be my favorite server backup tool out of all the ones I have worked with. It really is a complete Windows data protection tool. You can use it to backup and recover entire servers or computers in a short period of time or to recover specific files or emails too.
The latest version supports backup for Windows Server 2008, 2003, 2000, SQL Server, and Exchange Server. If you use other Symantec products like Endpoint Protection, Altiris, etc, you can integrate those tools with Backup Exec. It also supports VMware and Microsoft Virtual Server environments.
Overall, it’s the best value for the money. I’ve used it many times and it has worked flawlessly.
My second favorite backup solution for Windows servers, but only if you are running Small Business Server. It’s definitely cheaper and simpler to use than Backup Exec, but it’s not as robust.
Acronis also supports SQL Server, Exchange, and virtual servers, but you have to buy each product separately. You also have to buy the option for Exchange and SQL Server with Backup Exec, but they are not separate programs. I personally like the integration in Backup Exec, rather than having individual programs to backup the server, Exchange, and SQL Server.
Overall, though, the backup and restore process works very well with Acronis. They also support Linux servers, which is nice if you use Linux.
Another backup product that I have personally used and found to be a very reliable enterprise-class data protection solution. The nice thing about ARCserver, formerly BrightStor, is that it works with a host of hardware and software platforms, including IBM Informix, Lotus Domino, Oracle, AS/400, Ingres, OpenVMS, SAN, and lots more.
It’s been around for a long time, so all the functionality and comprehensiveness that you would want from a server backup program is there. IT of course supports all Microsoft products and also supports virtual environments.
CA also has a host of other products, including anti-virus, database management, infrastructure & operations management, financial management, and lots more, so if you are looking to buy all of your products from one company, CA would be a good choice.
Finally, I’ve not used Paragon myself, but have heard good things about it. It’s the cheapest out of all the programs mentioned, so if you’re on a super tight budget, this might be the best program for you.
Even though it’s cheap, it still has support for RAID, Windows x64 systems, IDE/SCSI/SATA, and more. It does have support for SQL Server, Exchange, and virtual servers also, however, I do not believe it is as well integrated as Backup Exec. For example, I don’t think you can recover specific emails using Paragon.
All the backup programs mentioned above are great, but lots of people, especially small businesses, are moving to storing their data online. If you are a very small company and don’t mind having your data stored on someone else’s severs, then online data backup companies might be the cheapest and best option.
Note that most of the online backup companies are great for storing data. If you want a backup solution to recover servers along with the operating system, you should use one of the programs mentioned above.
The ones I have used or have heard about include the following:
1. Mozy – If you check out their Pro package, it supports high encryption and also SQL Server/Exchange! The cost is minimal and you get unlimited backups. I currently use them for my personal computers and it works great. They also have good customer service.
2. Carbonite – Another service similar to Mozy that is also very good. The price is about the same, but Carbonite does not have a business backup option. It does not support SQL or Exchange servers.
3. IDrive – Another good backup service that does have a Pro plan for small businesses. Has lots of good features, such as continuous data protection and versioning. Does not seem to support SQL or Exchange though.
So those are my recommendations for backup software in a small to medium-sized business environment. If you have any other suggestions, feel free to comment! Enjoy!