Zen Software BackupAssist 6.1 review

Price when reviewed

BackupAssist focuses on managing backup for Windows Servers. It supports all versions of Windows Server and offers optional upgrades for SQL Server databases and Exchange mailboxes. As well as tape drives, it works with removable devices such as optical drives, hard disks, RDX cartridges and Zip drives, and remote destinations such as network shares, NAS appliances, FTP and rsync servers.

Installation is a slick process. BackupAssist opens with a wizard that helps choose the media type, source files, daily schedule and a backup strategy. For the latter it offers an impressive range of predefined options, including standard weekly backups and a full GFS (grandfather, father, son) system with automatic media rotation management.

The wizard also provides options for securing Exchange mailboxes or Outlook PST files, along with SQL databases. We had no problems with the latter.

There are many provisos for media and device support, depending on your server OS and the type of backups you want to run. Standard file and folder level backups are supported only on Server 2003 as BackupAssist uses the Windows NTBackup utility, which isn’t present in Server 2008.

Zen Software BackupAssist 6.1

This became apparent very quickly as we started testing on a Server 2008 R2 system with an HP USB DAT 320 drive. The setup wizard would only let us use the Zip-to-tape option, which costs an extra £75.

Performance with the DAT 320 was good. A Zip backup of a 28.1GB test folder containing 13,000 files took just over 45 minutes for an average speed of 10.5MB/sec, which is 1.5MB/sec short of the drive’s native performance.

FTP performance was pedestrian: backing up the test folder to a Qnap TS-459 Pro+ NAS appliance over Gigabit took an average of 16MB/sec. Rsync was even slower, with the same test sample backed up to the Qnap appliance at 10MB/sec.

Both the file replication and ZIP-to-disk methods can be used to copy to a network location, but their insistence on an NTFS-formatted destination introduces more limitations.

Backups to RDX cartridges are less problematic. We used a USB HP StorageWorks RDX. Using file replication for a simple mirrored copy of the test folder to an NTFS-formatted cartridge returned an average of 16MB/sec.

BackupAssist costs a lot less than ARCserve and Backup Exec and offers good backup strategy and media rotation management. However, performance is uninspiring, many features are optional extras, and there are just too many limitations for us to recommend it.


Software subcategory Backup software

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