CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Windows 11.5 review

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SMBs may be spoilt for choice when it comes to network backup software, but CA’s ARCserve Backup for Windows is one of few such products that’s consistently and regularly been updated with new features. This latest version of ARCserve tackles the increasing demand for D2D2T (disk to disk to tape) backup with a new Disk Staging option.

CA BrightStor ARCserve Backup for Windows 11.5 review

Backup using ARCserve has always been a simple three-step process, but with the Disk Staging option installed – note this costs an extra £349 – you get an extra tab for specifying a disk location where data is to be backed up to first. Before you can use this, you need to create a new file system device using the configuration wizard and then add it to a staging group. For testing, we used an IBM xServer 366 and configured a disk location on an IBM Total Storage DS4100. This was directly attached over a 2Gb/sec Fibre Channel link.

ARCserve D2D2T jobs use staging policies to determine how data is migrated from near-line disk to removable media. Data can be copied to tape so many weeks, days, hours or minutes after the staging job has finished or at a specific time. Purging policies are used to manage storage on the disk stage, so you can opt to have the data automatically removed a set time after it’s been migrated to tape

Yet more controls are on offer, including a threshold that can be applied to available disk space. If this is breached, a new ‘makeup’ job can be automatically created that will send the backup data directly to tape. The SnapLock feature stops data being purged or overwritten until a retention period expires, but this only works with WORM devices. Disk staging also comes into play during data restoration. When a user requests a file to be returned, ARCserve will check first in the disk store before requesting a tape be loaded.

Performance has always been one of ARCserve’s strong points and this new version didn’t disappoint. We compared speeds with the competition by running a single D2D backup job to the DS4100 disk array. ARCserve was 18 per cent faster than Symantec Backup Exec 10 and no less than 41 per cent faster than EMC Dantz Retrospect 7. Tape drive performance was also impressive. The migration phase to an HP StorageWorks Ultrium 960 tape drive was completed at a rate of 81MB/sec. Comparing this with a standard backup job for Backup Exec showed ARCserve to be more than 20 per cent faster. It even wins for ease of use: D2D2T jobs are simple to create and manage, with each disk-staging job having a sub-entry for each phase in the job monitor window.

Naturally, the Disk Staging module is the most significant new feature of ARCserve 11.5, but the core product also offers support for 64-bit platforms and more WORM devices, plus integration with Microsoft’s SharePoint. In the event of media failing, a smart restore feature will try and find another piece of media with the same file on it. Overall, this is a worthwhile range of new features that makes a strong backup product even better. Once again, CA takes the honours, this time by delivering the first viable D2D2T system for smaller businesses.

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