Symantec Backup Exec

Symantec Backup Exec (we tested Version 11d) supports enterprise network infrastructure very broadly.

Although it didn't have the widest support for servers (it does not support IRIX, AIX and SCO), it does support MacOS and most flavors of Linux by way of client agent software.

Installation is simple, both on servers (Backup Exec 11d is hosted on Windows 2000 Professional, Windows XP SP2, NetWare or Windows 2003 Server editions) and clients.

Our only complaint was the number of license key digits that had to be entered seemingly constantly until all was alive. Backup Exec supported file or snapshot-based backups, allowing administrator and user-defined backups and restorations. Individual disk partitions also can be backed up, providing good flexibility. We do need to note that Network File System partitions aren't supported.

Among the products we tested, Backup Exec pays a great deal of attention to detailing the type of data to be backed up (files, directories, partitions, snapshots, entire systems), and this effort pays administrators and users back by giving them extremely flexible restoration options.

One of the strongest features of Backup Exec is that it lets clients boot a Symantec CD and have the applications on the CD find the Backup Exec software server and perform a partial or complete restoration of files. Civilians can do this for any of the operating systems supported.

Symantec's Backup Exec

We were dismayed that encryption wasn't turned on by default, but that's easily changed. The encryption options are good: AES 128-, 192- or 256-bit encryption are available. The keys are stored in the server. We recommend backing up the encryption keys database frequently and removing it to a safe location off-site.

Continuous backups ostensibly are available, provided there's sufficient server disk storage and minimal latency between client and server. The problem with the Symantec approach is that continuous backup is effective only when the source device has a low delta of change.

The Symantec product keeps detailed audit logs in its database for a configured length of time. This log, which can be saved to a file, displays the date and time of an activity, who performed it and its nature.

Keeping network administrators, help-desk support people and users in mind, we ranked Backup Exec the best in overall effectiveness for its features, security and usefulness in rapid restoration when disaster strikes.

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