Retrospect from Dantz stands out from other network backup applications in that it’s remarkably easy to use. That’s partly down to a well thought-out management interface, further simplified in the latest 6.5 release, but also because it does away with the need for complex media rotation schemes. As such it’s a good solution for the small to medium sized business, offering not just simplicity but a mix of performance and functionality on a par with products costing much more.
The key to understanding how Retrospect works is its patented “progressive backup” technology, whereby only new or changed files are backed up. Moreover, these are simply added to the existing backup media, organised into self-managing backup sets. And that not only makes for fast backups but also much simpler restores, with no need to hunt out incremental tapes, for example. You can also easily restore earlier versions of files, as nothing is ever over-written unless specifically requested , with full bare metal disaster recovery also available, if required.
Four versions of the software are available, starting with Retrospect Professional (£72 + VAT) which runs on a single computer with the ability to also backup two networked PCs. Retrospect Single Server (£436 + VAT) can then protect a single server and unlimited networked PCs, while Multi Server (£636 + VAT) will handle unlimited networked servers and client systems. Then there’s Retrospect Small Business Server (£469 + VAT), specifically designed for Microsoft’s Small Business Server and the Exchange and SQL Server programs that come with it.
All four are based on the same core software which runs on any PC or server running Windows, from Windows 98/ME through to the latest XP implementation. Client PCs can, similarly, be Windows-based, added to which there’s support for Apple Mac systems, workstations and servers running Sun Solaris and most implementations of Linux.
There’s wide support too when it comes to backup devices. Most tape drives are recognised automatically (SCSI or IDE) and, just as with backup programs costing a lot more, support for single drive autoloaders and libraries comes as standard. Plus it’s possible to take backups to CD/DVD writers using Retrospect and copy data to a file, either on a local hard disk or to a NAS (Network Attached Storage) appliance.
You can start taking backups as soon as Retrospect is loaded simply by browsing to find the systems, drives and files to copy, followed by suitable backup media. However, most users will want to automate the process, which can be done using either manually generated scripts or the EasyScript Wizard which, as the name suggests, really does make the process very easy. Using this wizard most small businesses can be up and running with Retrospect in around about an hour, and using just a handful of backup tapes or disks. The exact number, naturally, depends on the amount of data to be protected but also the level of protection to be applied, with the EasyScript wizard offering to rotate multiple backup sets for off-site storage for the truly paranoid/sensible.
Other neat features include being able to see what backups are scheduled and check that the media required to run unattended jobs is loaded and ready for use. You also get useful monitoring and reporting facilities, plus there are built-in compression and data encryption options, support for virus scanning and the backup of registry and other important system information.
By itself Retrospect is a very comprehensive backup program, although for those with special requirements some add-ons are available. Disaster Recovery is one, with agents for backup of Exchange and SQL Server also available, along with a general open file backup utility. There’s also an advanced tape support pack for multi-drive libraries, further rounding off this impressive yet easy to use backup solution.
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