CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Laptops and Desktops 11.1 review

Price when reviewed

Network backup strategies all too often fail to take into account data held on mobile devices. CA’s BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Laptops and Desktops (BLAD) specifically targets mobile workers and provides backup that works with them. Veritas offers a similar option, but a key differentiator is that BLAD is a standalone app, whereas Veritas’s Backup Exec Desktop and Laptops Option can only be installed on a server already running the core Backup Exec server software. That’s not to say BLAD won’t work with CA’s main ARCserve backup software. The BLAD database can be secured to tape and a Data Growth feature then uses an ARCserve profile to automatically migrate older data from the database at scheduled intervals.

CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Laptops and Desktops 11.1 review

The software comprises three components: the BLAD server, the Server Explorer and a client utility. The server employs a user database, or hard disk vault, to back up client data. The swift installation routine automatically picks the drive with the largest amount of free space. You can load Server Explorer on the same system or use another network system for remote management. Client deployment tools are extensive too: you can create a share on the server system where users are able to pull the install from; a silent install will push it to selected users; or you can email the file as an attachment.

The Explorer interface uses organisations to manage clients, and you’re able to assign different configurations to each one. Organisations are a collection of instructions that determine what, when and how client data is to be backed up. When creating install packages, you assign both an organisation and configuration to them, which provide clients with all required default settings.

BLAD takes a two-pronged approach to backup, as it maintains a local database on the client as well as the server database. Whenever a backup is first run, the data is compressed and encrypted to the local database first. This file is then sent to the server when a link has been established. If a user accidentally deletes a file, they don’t need a network connection, as they can recover it locally. If the notebook is lost or stolen, the data is safe on the server.

Once a file has been fully backed up, only changes at the byte or block level will be secured thereafter. A File Change Recorder keeps track of all modifications on the client system. The client spots when a network connection to the server has been established and will initiate a backup. This can be modem, broadband or LAN, and if the connection is severed it will simply pick up next time from where it left off. You can protect all client settings or give them the option of selecting extra files and folders and scheduling their own personal backups. A separate Restore tool provides a search facility and will automatically use the local file if it meets the user’s requirements. If space on the backup server is tight, you may create more servers and clients, and all their data can be transferred using nothing more than drag and drop.

BLAD is a tidy solution to the serious problem of protecting valuable data held on devices such as notebooks. It’s easy to install, configure and manage, and its operations fit in well with the lifestyle of mobile workers.

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