I’ve been messing around with Backup Exec 10

Veritas is trying mightily to unseat Microsoft as my least-favorite software company. I do believe Backup Exec to be the worst piece of software of any kind on the market. In fact, babysitting Backup Exec is the reason I haven’t been around much.

I’m looking to version 10 for some relief (and the much-needed 1.0 quality that Microsoft usually delivers around version 3–when Veritas will deliver it probably is an interesting Calculus problem).The downside to version 10: I’m told there’s no more Windows NT 4.0 support. Can’t back ’em up. I haven’t actually tried installing the remote agent on an NT4 box to see if it’s unsupported as in we-won’t-help-when-it-breaks or unsupported as in no-can-do. Smart businesses hocked their NT4 servers a couple of years ago. I won’t say anything else, except that not every business is smart.

More downside: If a tape fills up and you can’t change it because the server is offsite and/or behind locked doors that require approval from 14 middle managers and a note from your mother to get to, under some circumstances Backup Exec 10 will hang indefinitely while cancelling the job. Version 9 had the same problem. Bouncing the services will usually relieve the hang, but sometimes you have to reboot.

It’s tempting to put Backup Exec and your tape drive on your biggest file server to get faster backups. But trust me, if you put it on a server that’s dedicated to backups–its day job can be as a domain controller or some other task that’s shared by multiple, redundant mahcines–you’ll thank yourself. It’s very nice to be able to reboot your Backup Exec server without giving your seven bosses something else besides the cover sheet on your TPS reports to grumble about.

If you must put Backup Exec on your file server, set up DFS and mirror the file shares to another server. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy–just something that can prop things up while the server’s rebooting. And run Windows 2003, because it boots fast.

The upside: I can make Backup Exec 9.1 die every time by creating a direct-to-tape job and running it concurrently with a disk-to-disk-to-tape job. The tape portion of the second job will bomb every time. Veritas technical support tells me that bug was fixed in 9.1SP1. It wasn’t. But it’s fixed in 10.

There are some other features in 10, like synthetic backups, that promise to speed backups along. That would be very nice. It would also be nice if it would be reliable.

I’m not going to put it in production yet–when I first deployed 9, it fixed a lot of problems but it made a whole bunch of new ones–but maybe, just maybe, Backup Exec 10 will do what it’s supposed to do well enough that I can work something close to regular hours again.

Otherwise I’ll look forward to Backup Exec 11 and hope that it features more changes than just a new Symantec black-and-gold color scheme and wizards featuring Peter Norton. We’ll see.

3 thoughts on “I’ve been messing around with Backup Exec 10

  • January 31, 2005 at 2:51 pm
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    It could be worse. You could be dealing with Tivoli Storage Manager, having drives falling offline all day long. When TSM failed to effectively perform remote backups, one of our smarter UNIX guys downloaded, built, installed, setup, and ran an rsync job faster than they could fix the TSM hardware and software problems. Which, of course, was totally verboten, considering the corporate policy of "not using open-source software". ;^)

  • February 1, 2005 at 11:03 pm
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    "I’ve been messing around with Backup Exec"

    Funny, for most of us the subject and predicate in that sentence are reversed.

    • February 1, 2005 at 11:34 pm
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      Oh, Backup Exec 9.1’s been messing with me plenty. Backup Exec 10 won’t mess with me until I put it in production, then I know I won’t have a life for six months. So I’m dragging my feet, not that I have to all that hard. The lack of NT4 support is a bit of a showstopper. Yes, MS pulled the plug on NT4, but my clients don’t care. I suspect a lot of other people don’t either.

      I had to talk someone out of deploying a brand-new NT4 box just last year. I don’t remember the exact circumstances but I remember it being a bit of a struggle.

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