REVIEWER: Mark Johnson, assistant professor of Theology at Marquette University.
BACKGROUND: At Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the entire theology department 30 full-time professors, 15 part- time professors and four staff recently got new desktop machines, all running some version of Windows, including a very basic backup system. The professors save intellectual property on a central server. However, intellectual property was very vulnerable to catastrophe because of the department's lack of backup policies and infrastructure.
PLATFORMS: The department runs Microsoft Windows 2000 and supports a Web site, file server, print server and backup server, all on the one machine.
PROBLEM SOLVED: We needed a backup system that didn't work off individual machines but rather the entire system. To address the storage and file-accessibility issues, the department purchased a RAID 5 disk farm from OmniTech in 1999 and most recently updated to an Intel Pentium III 600 Server with 640MB of RAM. VERITAS Backup Exec fit our requirements for an easy-to-use, easy-to-access and easy-on-the-budget software solution.
PRODUCT FUNCTIONALITY: With Backup Exec, we've devised a schedule that works for our system. The program performs a weekly backup to tape; but due to the high volume of changes made to files every day, we've programmed it to also run daily backups. A great new feature of VERITAS Backup Exec 8.6 is the ability to write to a drive instead of a tape. Twice a day, Backup Exec performs a differential backup of the data files on the server and places the backup file on a partition of its own. On the weekend, it performs complete backup to tape, resetting the archive bits so that our backups during the week are faster and less taxing on the machine.
STRENGTHS: Between the Wizards and the manuals, Backup Exec holds your hand through the whole process. The reports are clear, and I really like the SMTP notification feature. I get an e-mail confirmation every time a backup occurs, and any problem triggers an alarm within my Microsoft Outlook. If a setting is wrong, I come into my server via remote access, and I do the fix. I can access the system from home with either a broadband Web connection or a terminal connection. Thus, I can monitor and schedule backups without having to be on site.
WEAKNESSES: The only thing I would like to see improved is the tabbed-page interface. I find that I need to hunt around for information a little too much. A "cockpit-like" view with an HTML frame view would be easier to navigate; but the functionality behind the UI remains, for our purposes, extremely effective.
SELECTION CRITERIA: Ease-of-use, accessibility and cost were our main criteria when we looked for a backup solution. Backup Exec met all these requirements. One-button backup provides quick and easy system protection. Easy access via Microsoft Windows Explorer integration allows you to initiate a backup from the backup server's Windows Explorer console. Because Backup Exec is completely scalable, our network will be able to grow without any interruptions to our backup system. In addition, the $1,195 price tag fit our budget.
DELIVERABLES: Fast File Access allows us to access data quickly with a fast search of all files. The disk-based catalog gives locator information on demand for fast file access and full catalog.
VENDOR SUPPORT: Tech support has been fine, primarily because the VERITAS Web site is so well constructed. I find what I need right away, even concerning technical issues such as setting up firewalls for backup of data across a network that's already protected by firewalls.
DOCUMENTATION: The manuals are not intimidating even for the non- MIS type.
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