WD Arkeia DA1300 review

Price when reviewed

Since acquiring Arkeia Software last year, WD has focused primarily on mid-sized businesses. Now it’s turned its attention to SMBs. The latest DA appliances partner Arkeia software with the hardware used by WD’s Sentinel range, and the price includes support for more than 200 client platforms and apps.

We received the 4TB Arkeia DA1300 for review, which is equipped with a mirrored pair of 2TB WD Red SATA drives. This may not sound like much, but the DA1300 applies both in-line data compression and Arkeia’s progressive deduplication so effective capacity is increased significantly. However, the DA1300 supports only client-side deduplication – it isn’t powerful enough to do it appliance-side.

WD Arkeia DA1300 review: installation and setup

Installation is swift. Accessed via a web browser, the quick-start wizard configures admin access, a fixed IP address, and provides the option to add email-alert details. However, from this point onwards, setup is complicated by the way that Arkeia works.

WD Arkeia DA1300

To put the DA1300 to the test, we used it alongside Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V, Server 2012 R2, Exchange Server 2007, Windows 7, 8 and VMware ESX Server 5 systems.

We last looked at the Arkeia software a few years ago, and the DA1300 still uses many of the same concepts for defining clients, backup sources, destinations and schedules. The first step is to deploy agents on all clients, and the web interface provides links for these. However, where WD’s rival Unitrends automatically pushes agents to clients and Barracuda uses only a single agent for Microsoft Exchange, WD requires two. No agent is needed for VMware backup – you just provide the host’s IP address and root credentials.

Arkeia uses Savepacks to define sources for backup and describe clients, paths, apps, folders and files. From here, it’s possible to browse each client’s drives and apps from the web interface and select which need to be backed up.

WD Arkeia DA1300

WD Arkeia DA1300 review: virtual backup

For Hyper-V, WD uses Microsoft’s VSS so you can backup online and offline VMs, but for file-level backups you’ll need an agent inside each VM as well. Exchange features are also limited – there’s no message-level backup, so individual mailboxes and calendars can’t be restored.

VMware servers must be accessed from the appliance’s own tree, which allows you to toggle vStorage on and off for all the available VMs. As with Hyper-V, you must load an agent in the VM if you want file- and app-level backups.

Arkeia’s Drivepacks define a backup storage location, and for the DA1300, this is its single mirrored array. For around £1,400, an optional dual-drive kit adds a second mirror and storage area.

WD Arkeia DA1300 review: remote backup

There is the option to replicate to other remote appliances, and WD’s “seed and feed” feature exports data to a USB storage device to speed the process. Cloud Storage is another useful feature: a second Arkeia system is used as a remote deduplication device. However, it isn’t possible to use a second DA1300 unit – its hardware specification isn’t powerful enough.

Arkeia backup jobs link Savepacks to a Drivepack and apply a backup strategy and schedule. The DA1300 is rather old-school in this respect, as it offers predefined strategies combining standard monthly and weekly full backups with daily incrementals.

WD Arkeia DA1300

By comparison, Barracuda and Unitrends have moved with the times, and their “incremental forever” strategies run one full backup followed by regular incrementals as often as every few minutes. At present, WD only allows one backup job a day, although support for “incremental forever” strategies is forthcoming.

WD Arkeia DA1300 review: performance

Backup performance is on a par with the Arkeia’s rivals. A full backup of a Windows 8 system averaged 19MB/sec while a 23GB folder copy returned 20MB/sec. A full backup of a Core i5 Windows 8.1 system with deduplication enabled returned 10.4MB/sec and the local agent used 25% of the CPU. With deduplication off, it averaged 15.5MB/sec.

WD Arkeia DA1300

Restoring data is easy. You can select whether to restore files or folders, choose VSS backup sets for apps such as Hyper-V, Exchange and SQL Server, go for VMware VMs or access a Cloud Storage appliance. Bare-metal restores are supported, but this requires an agent to be installed on the target systems.

WD’s Arkeia DA1300 provides an all-in-one backup solution with extensive client and app support. It’s not as easy to use, nor as well featured, as Barracuda’s Backup Server 390 or Unitrends’ Recovery-312, but it scores points by offering more usable capacity for much less cash.

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