Symantec LiveState Recovery Advanced Server 3 review

Price when reviewed

Symantec’s acquisition of PowerQuest last year has given the company a complete disk-imaging portfolio that covers home users right up to large businesses. The software formerly known as V2i Protector Server Edition is being promoted vigorously as an ideal alternative to tape for securing your Windows Server systems and providing disaster-recovery tools.

Symantec LiveState Recovery Advanced Server 3 review

LiveState Recovery Advanced Server 3 brings into play a number of features that you won’t find in the Standard Server version. For starters, you can run a job that creates a base disk image and then schedules regular incremental backups to reduce subsequent runtimes. Incremental backups can also be consolidated and partitions copied from one disk to another. The new event-driven backup allows an image job to fire off incremental backups in response to certain conditions, although this isn’t as good as it sounds. Only three types of event are supported: when a user logs on or off a server, when a new application is installed, or if changes on the selected hard disk exceed so many megabytes.

The software comprises three components: an agent for each server, a central management console and a backup image browser tool. The console and image browser can also run on Windows 2000 Professional or XP platforms, but they don’t extend local imaging functions to them. The agent can be deployed to other servers from the console and the network browsed for remote systems. With this installed, the local and remote systems are added to the main console, where you can view all disk drives plus used and available space.

Wizards are provided for manual backup and scheduled job creation, but the backup process is simple. You select a system from the left-hand pane, browse all available drives and partitions, and make individual or multiple selections. Destinations range from local hard disks and rewritable CD and DVD drives to networked drives, allowing you to easily back up individual systems to remote servers or maybe a NAS appliance. Three compression rates are on offer, so if space isn’t a problem you can go for the lowest setting for a higher backup performance. Plenty of restore options are available too. Selected systems will show a backup history listing all available images – just select one and restore it directly from the console. Alternatively, the image contents can be viewed from the browser utility or mounted directly from Windows Explorer, where it appears as another local drive.

The product CD-ROM also functions as a boot disk for accessing Symantec’s recovery environment. This allows you to restore data to systems that can’t be reached by conventional methods, or you can perform full disaster-recovery operations on failed systems. You get a Windows-style interface for easy restoration of complete drives, or you can browse image files, select individual files and choose a destination. Network support may be configured directly from this interface, and you can map remote drives using their UNC path. Note that this tool won’t, under any circumstances, run with less than 256MB of memory.

Choices for server disk-imaging software are limited, with the main competition coming from Acronis True Image Server. However, for imaging of systems over the network, we’d say that although it’s a more costly option Symantec has the edge in terms of ease of use and features.

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