NovaStor NovaBackup NAS Suite review

Deployment is a drag, but NovaBackup NAS Suite isn’t short on features and supports up to three servers

Price
£1,042

Nova Backup NAS Suite's headline price may look steep, but it includes support for three Windows servers and their VMs, as well as a central management console (CMC). It can also handle a wide range of backup destinations, including cloud providers, and supports granular restores of VMware and Hyper-V VMs plus mailbox item restores for Exchange.

Installation is a two-part process: after we'd loaded the CMC on a Windows 7 system, we had to manually install the standard Nova Backup software on each system to be protected. Each then had to be pointed at the CMS system, by entering its IP address into the client's default settings page. It's not a difficult task, but it's tiresome compared to Arcserve's software, which simply pushes out agents as required.

With this done, our systems popped up in the CMC console, and we could get an overview of our backup status. From the console, we could tell which agents were in contact with the CMC, with colour-coded icons for each showing the status of their latest backup job. If you wish, you can grant users individual access to the CMC, and assign them roles to determine whether they have full access, can edit and run backup jobs or just view the job logs.

It's worth stepping back and sorting out groups and associated backup schedules first. A group's backup schedules are applied to an agent when they are added, and we could create scheduled full, incremental, differential or image-based backups. In contrast to products such as Arcserve Backup, the system running the CMC does not provide centralised backup device management.

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Each system being secured must have its own access to a backup device. This can be a disk, tape drive, cloud storage or remote NAS share. NAS shares mapped to a local drive letter aren't supported to use our Synology appliance, we had to set up a network location using its UNC path. But this wasn't hard, and can be done locally at the client interface or from the CMC.

From the CMC, we could create on-demand backup jobs for specific systems, remotely browse their drives, select folders and also add the system state. Image-based backups for disaster recovery can also be run from here. With the plugin installed on our Hyper-V host, we could browse our VMs and add them to a backup job. For granular recovery of our SQL Server 2014 and Exchange 2013 systems, we had to install the agent locally so that it loaded the relevant plugin.

Exchange item-level recovery requires the single mailbox restore component to be installed on a system that can access the Exchange server. This loads the Kroll Ontrack PowerControls, which also need the Outlook Anywhere and Autodiscover services enabled on the Exchange server.

In practice, we found this approach worked perfectly well, but the granular recovery feature in Veritas Backup Exec was easier to use. In that package, we could use the central console to restore mailbox items directly from our Hyper-V VM backups.

For file and folder recovery, we used the CMC to select a system, browse its backups and restore files to their original location or another destination. Desktop backup isn't included in this edition, but we were able to install the optional Nova Backup Workstation software on our Windows 10 clients and control them from the CMC.

The deployment process is tedious, but once Nova Backup NAS Suite is up and running, it offers high-quality backup and recovery features for the price. The CMC isn't perfect, but it's quite capable of managing all your backup strategies and includes useful granular recovery tools for Exchange.

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This review first appeared in PC Pro magazine issue 254

Verdict

The deployment process is tedious, but once Nova Backup NAS Suite is up and running, it offers high-quality backup and recovery features for the price. The CMC isn’t perfect, but it’s quite capable of managing all your backup strategies and includes useful granular recovery tools for Exchange.

Requirements: Windows Server 2003 upwards

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