Symantec Backup Exec 2012

Reviews 28 May, 2012

Symantec has carried out a radical overhaul of its long-standing management console. Dave Mitchell investigates this refresh to find out if it is a wise move or one which will alienate existing users.

4
Price: 
£516
core product per server inc VAT
Verdict: 
Symantec’s shift in backup philosophy really does simply the backup and recovery processes making it very easy to use and the wide choice of options represents good value. The redesigned Backup Exec 2012 management console is refreshing. However, it is going to take some time for existing BE users to adjust, which needs to be considered before upgrading.

Symantec already commands a respectable share of the Windows backup software market so the decision to redesign the management console on Backup Exec 2012 (BE2012) is a risky one.

The tried and trusted management interface we’ve known for years has been replaced with a console which aims to simplify the entire backup process.

Previous versions of Backup Exec focused on the creation of individual backup jobs where you decided on a strategy, applied it to selected systems, tweaked a few settings and choose the backup media. We found this worked well. But the largest backup strategies required complex multiple jobs to be created from scratch.

BE2012 blurs the distinction between physical and virtual servers, taking a resource-centric approach which concentrates less on the job and on what is to be protected. The aims is to accelerate the creation of protection plans by reducing the number of steps required. This makes it easier to include multiple backup stages using different types of media.

The redesigned home page provides a complete overview of all backup related activity and the status of storage locations

Revamped management console

Over the years we’ve reviewed many versions of Backup Exec and its management interface has been the one consistent feature, so BE2012 immediately presented us with a short but steep learning curve.

Installation is simple, as always. However, we did find the new interface to be daunting during early interactions.

The console opens with a home page showing a complete overview of backup operations with details on media capacities along with a useful traffic light system for job status. Prior to job creation you must deploy remote agents and define backup storage locations and these processes have been simplified.

We had no problems pulling in our Windows Server 2008 R2 systems including those running the Hyper-V role. We also declared backup-to-disk targets along with an HP StoreOnce deduplicating appliance providing NAS and VTL media.

The fun starts with job creation as you go to the Backup and Restore tab and view all systems which have the relevant agents installed. Instead of creating a job, you highlight a system, hit the Backup toolbar button and browse through the available backup types from the drop-down menu.

The choices offered are based on the licensed options and available backup media. If you have disk and tape configured then you can select a backup job to use either or both. The network storage section now includes support for cloud backup providers and these options will appear for selection in the drop-down menu as well.

BE2012 also offers data deduplication but, unlike CA’s ARCserve r16 which includes it for free, this is an optional extra. Once licensed, deduplication appears as another choice as a backup destination. This hasn’t changed from its introduction in Backup Exec 2010.

Backup job creation has been streamlined and can be applied to single systems or groups of servers

Specifications: 

Memory: 2GB

Hard disk: 1.5GB

OS: Media server - Windows Server 2003 SP2 upwards

Disqus - noscript

Been trying to make this software work for 6 months, disk based back up with the dedupe option is unreliable at best. I do not recommend Backup Exec 2012 at all.

Dear God, do not buy this software. I tried out the trial version of 2012 then purchased a license when I thought it would work for me... Installed my license but the software is still showing up as running trial mode. I've wasted hours on this, uninstalling & reinstalling, emailing and on the phone with Symantec tech support, etc. This is so dumb I can't even wrap my brain around it - you install a trial of an app, then you purchase a license, the license should just convert the trial version into the full version, or give you the option to uninstall any pieces of the trial that you're not using, right? I just want to back up one server onto one NAS, NOT ROCKET SCIENCE. All of my other servers are working fine on BE 2010, Symantec really screwed their customers with this latest version and if they can't even figure out this basic issue I will be looking for an alternative software solution for any future backup software needs. In the meantime I'll be watching this "trial version" counter count down, and praying that my backup jobs won't all stop working when it expires (even though I've got a license installed). *sigh*

For simplistic backup solutions Backup Exec 2012 does a decent job. I've been using since v5 and it took me a bit to get used to the new interface, but once you get past that, it is relatively simplistic... in fact, if I had a main complaint it is that its overly simplistic.
The 2 major changes that I greatly dislike: 1. dropping of CPS. 2. No longer able to use the same FULL backup for both incremental and differential jobs.
CPS was awesome for us. It was MUCH more robust than MS DMPS at the time and from what I understand now, still was more effecient in concept. It used the same FULL backup as the 'base' with which to pull changed blocks for snapshots as it did for a replica job of the same data set (we could set a real-time full replica AND snapshots but only use the 1:1 space of the replica and the minimal space for the Deltas. CPS did start having some issues as we neared the 4-5TB mark and we never identified if it was its ability to track over the data set size or the snapshots combined with the active realtime replication, but rather than fix/expand the product, Symantec Dropped it. For this we had to move over to CA's RA package... but its still not what CPS was... you can't do both realtime replication AND snapshots simultaneously with CA. Also, the end-user web based recovery option in CPS has no equal and for us, was flat out AWESOME... I shed tears when CPS went away even though we were starting to have glitches with it.
Regarding diff/incr using same full base... this worked very well for us, did a FULL twice a year, did monthly differentials and daily incr for the current month. I've been able to replicate this with 2012 HOWEVER, I have to have 2 seperate FULLs now, one for Differentials and one for Incrementals... it's a waste. We know it worked previously and it worked well... why they chose not to keep this I don't know and it still frustrates me after talking to several 'reps' on the issue. For this issue alone if I was not already invested in Symantec, I probably would have passed onto another solution like AppAsure or CA.
Cost, however, is still an issue. In our environment with a single Server with 3 agents (perpetual, not this new teired method) backing up ~8TB of data in the above schema with a daily change rate of about 50-100GB; it's very affordable.
For small businesses, especially if you run Small Business Edition of Windows Server, I would probably easily recommend it.
I have not tried the Deduplication option. There are some gotcha's in how you have to license it to get it to work... i.e. for us, with a single server/3agents, we can't just add only the dedupe option (at least not as of fall '13). Pending your environment and then, if you data is a lot of large file, few changes type data like ours, there's some question if you would really get a huge amount of savings.
For desktop backup, we use Retrospect. It's SUPER cheap... single server unlimited clients... it's also pretty effecient. I'm somewhat concerned since it moved from Dantz/EMC to Sonic... not a big fan of the bloat ware that they put out, but now that Retrospect is back in its own private group I maintain hope. For a small solution or even a moderate desktop environment... i would still look at them. If you need complex schema's over a broad WAN centrally managed... I can't comment on them or Symantec's product.

Symantec Backup Exec 2012 is a massive step backwards.
Each backup job can only backup one server. Media server can not be installed on Windows Server 2012.
Sigh, it's 2014!