Symantec Backup Exec 12 for Windows Servers review

Backup Exec is always a top choice - and the latest version delivers a good range of new features and improvements.

Dave Mitchell
8 May 2008
Price when reviewed 

Just like buses, you wait ages for new versions of backup software to turn up and then two come along at once. CA recently launched its long-awaited ARCserve Backup 12, and now Symantec follows in quick succession with Backup Exec 12 (BE12).

Value is on Symantec's agenda, as the base product is now offered with the CPS (continuous protection server), advanced open file and intelligent disaster recovery options thrown in. However, we think CA's file server, email and database suites offer a more tempting proposition, as you still have to buy separate agents for BE12 with the Exchange agent, for example, costing the same as a basic media server. CA's email suite costs about £1,000 and includes the base product and agents for every popular mail server.

Naturally, Windows Server 2008 is on the certified OS list, and Backup Exec supports the new Active Directory 2008 features plus an agent can be deployed to the Core version. As with ARCserve, the main management interface gets a fresh coat of paint, but it doesn't see any significant redesign or improvements.

For testing, we installed the BE12 media server on a Boston Supermicro dual 3GHz Xeon 5160 server running Windows Server 2003 R2, and also deployed remote agents to our Dell PowerEdge 2900 and 1950 domain member servers running SQL Server 2005 and Exchange 2003.

Backup jobs are easy enough to create and, at their most basic, comprise a four-step process where you select the source data and backup device, opt for a backup method and schedule the job. We could access our remote servers and select Exchange mailbox stores and databases for inclusion as well as basic folders. Note that BE12 only supports the 64-bit production version of Exchange 2007. If you're testing using the 32-bit Exchange 2007 evaluation then BE12 will fail with an annoyingly cryptic error message.

Symantec's EndPoint Protection software is required, but integration with its ThreatCon service allows you to configure selected backup jobs to run when the security threat moves up to level two, three or four.

BE12 steps into line with ARCserve and adds support for the T10 hardware encryption feature on LTO-4 tape drives. We tested this with an HP Ultrium 1840 (web ID:120516), and liked the fact that you can restrict access of encrypted media only to its creator.

For backup performance, we've always found ARCserve has a slight edge over BE, and a local backup to an HP Ultrium 960 LTO-3 (web ID:70402) revealed this with BE12 delivering 72MB/sec and ARCserve 12 returning 77MB/sec. For D2D2T backup ARCserve is the preferred choice.

Backup Exec has an excellent range of features, although this version hasn't seen as many improvements as ARCserve 12 and isn't quite such good value. We'd recommend existing users upgrade to this version, but that others check out the competition from CA.

Price when reviewed 
521exc VAT

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