DataFort Hi-5 review

£600
Price when reviewed

Cloud backup is nothing new, but DataFort Hi-5 differs from the majority of hosted services. Designed to provide both on-site and off-site protection, Hi-5 caters for businesses that simply can’t afford hours of downtime.

One of the major differences to rival services is cost. Hi-5’s pricing is based on the number of systems to be protected, not on the amount of data stored off-site. This is preferable to capacity-based solutions, since costs can be calculated upfront and will increase only if you add more systems.

We first looked at DataFort’s offering in 2011, but several major features have since been added, including a continuity service for Exchange data stores, mailboxes and emails with a fixed cost per Exchange data store. DataFort has also upgraded to HP ProLiant rack servers for on-premises backup, which can handle multiple servers.

DataFort Hi-5

Tariffs start at £500 per server per month, and include cloud disaster recovery invocation as standard. If access to your premises is denied, DataFort will invoke VMs of your systems at its remote site and make them available online. Exchange server protection costs extra, but provides full granular recovery so you can restore entire data stores, mailboxes and individual emails. DataFort charges only £75 per Exchange data store per month for this service.

The first step in the process is to arrange a visit from a DataFort engineer. We chose a date and time, and an engineer arrived at our lab and deployed an HP ProLiant DL160 G6 1U rack server as our test Hi-5 appliance. No user intervention is required: the appliance is headless and managed remotely by DataFort.

For our test systems we used a Windows Server 2008 R2 server running Hyper-V. Within this we had one VM running Server 2008 R2 as a Primary Domain Controller (PDC) for file and print services, and another running Microsoft Exchange Server 2010. The DataFort engineer set the local Hi-5 appliance to protect both systems. At first full image backups are taken, then these are updated regularly using snapshots. For cloud recovery, all data is replicated to DataFort’s remote vaults. If speed is of the essence, the engineer can take an encrypted copy of the data back to HQ to seed the vault.

DataFort Hi-5

Initially, we used the test systems for over a month and ran file copies, edited local documents, and sent and received emails using Outlook Web Access (OWA). We simulated a range of disasters, and for our first test we deleted a 1GB folder on the PDC that contained 5,000 files. We called the DataFort support number, and upon advising that we wanted this folder restored from the latest backup, the technician remotely accessed our local appliance and copied the folder back to its original location. The process was swift: the time from phone call to folder restoration was less than seven minutes.

We also put the Exchange server protection to the test. For one user, we deleted a thread containing four emails from the previous month, and from the Exchange admin console we deleted a mailbox containing almost 6,000 messages. We called DataFort support, and asked for these all to be restored. Forty minutes later, DataFort called us to say everything was back in place. A quick check confirmed this was the case.

To simulate a disaster where the office premises are inaccessible, we pulled the plug on both the test server and local appliance and asked for cloud recovery to be invoked. DataFort called us back in 26 minutes; all our services were ready and waiting. Sure enough, we could access the servers via Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), and drive mappings remained in place. Using OWA we could remotely access all our Exchange user accounts and send and receive email – as far as our users were concerned, everything worked as expected. For businesses that have access to a contingency site, DataFort also offers an optional service where it delivers servers pre-loaded with the latest images within one business day.

Throughout our testing, DataFort delivered on its promises. With hassle-free backup and recovery, and a sensible pricing structure to boot, it’s an alluring choice.

Details

Software subcategory Backup software

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