Symantec Backup Exec 2010 review

It’s been a long wait but Symantec finally adds deduplication to its flagship Windows backup software. We put the latest Backup Exec 2010 to the test to see what storage savings it can deliver.

Other new features are support for Server 2008 R2 as a media server and the Core version as a client, a remote agent for Windows 7 and a greater focus on virtualisation with support for vSphere 4.0 and VMware incremental backups.

For testing, we loaded Backup Exec 2010 on a Broadberry CyberServe rack server equipped with dual 2.8GHz X5560 Xeons and 6GB of DDR3 memory. General installation is a swift process and an optional environment check scans the server to ensure that it meets the minimum hardware and software requirements.

The base product and multiple components can be selected at the same time and you can also remotely deploy extra media servers and remote agents during this phase as well. However, bear in mind that the deduplication option is 64-bit only.

We didn't spot the brief comment in the manual and the installation routine allowed us to select this option and install in on a 32-bit version of Server 2008. It was only when we tried to create a deduplication folder that Backup Exec popped up a message advising us that it wasn't supported requiring us to trash the OS and reinstall the 64-bit version.

To create a deduplication folder you select the drive to receive it and set up thresholds for low capacity levels and the number of streams it will support. BE2010 only supports a single deduplication folder per media server but this can be shared amongst multiple media servers providing you have the Central Admin Server or the SAN Shared Storage option installed.

To activate client-side deduplication each system must have the remote agent configured for direct access to the PureDisk device on the media server. This allows it to bypass the media server, perform deduplication locally and only send unique segments over the network. There is a caveat, though, as a direct access backup job can only have a single remote host declared to it.

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