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Looking for a backup solution primarily for Windows clients (XP/7), that will either back up to 2 different servers (1 on site, 1 off site - internet - can be our own server), or back up to 1 server and then we would need to somehow backup that server offsite/internet.

By lightweight, I mean the backup client software should not eat up much memory and processor since some of the client machines are older (p4 3ghz).

I have used CrashPlan, and it works pretty good, but is kind of heavy-weight for a P4. It uses a lot of ram. Plus it's not the easiest to deploy across lots of machines.

Possibly ZManda and Bacula are good choices to consider? Are they light weight? Can the clients/agents be set to go over the net and/or multiple backup servers?

update: I have been experimenting with backuppc, runs on linux only on the server which is the only think I wish could change, but otherwise it works pretty decent. It does not require an engine on a windows domain network. I have been experimenting with crashplan to off-site the backuppc data to another machine.

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5 Answers

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I would consider backuppc. Handles de-duplication of backups across multiple servers and historical backups. If you use rsyncd on the clients, then only the first backup will pull down all the files. After that all backups retrieve only incremental changes.

It handles laptops and periodically connected servers well backing them up when the connect. Incomplete backups are resumed when the laptop reconnects.

The repository can be backed up using a number of options including rsync. For this large a backup, I would consider using bacula to backup the repository.

For a distributed network, you may want to distribute your backup servers, and backup locally. Then replicate the databases. Initial replication can be done using tape exchanges, followed by rync replication of changes.

Getting recovery images for Windows is difficult due to locking issues. However, a site your size should have standard images. The user's data should be recoverable from the backup. Test the solution to ensure it works in your environment.

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So far I really like backuppc! Too bad the server can not run native on Windows, but other than that, it looks really good so far! THANKS! –  Scott Szretter Mar 3 '11 at 19:49
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I don't want to sound rude but you need to stop throwing around words like "enterprise" when talking about backup and decide exactly what features, reliability, etc. you actually need, how much you're prepared to pay for it and the risk/cost of not paying that amount.

I regard Commvault's Simpana backup products as "Enterprise" backup products (because of the reliability, proven track record, support for a decent variety of backup devices, good variety of multi platform backup agents) but if the price of Crashplan isn't to your liking then you really won't like the pricing on products like Simpana, Netbackup, legato and so-on.

With all due respect to Crashplan *which I use and love at home myself) if the only thing stopping you using that as your "enterprise backup" is the price then you probably don't actually need the sort of backup solution that most experienced sysadmins would consider an "enterprise backup" product. And you certainly won't like the price of them, either.

So what is it you're actually trying to back up - I mean exactly, as in do you need agents to backup databases without taking them offline, email, etc or just a bunch of files? Do you need to support "bare metal" restores? Is the agent being "light weight" more important than the backup being reliable?

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Ok, sorry if "enterprise" is too vague - I am helping out a 'business' that has a very small budget and needs to back up approximately 1500 XP (and some win 7) machines. A 'bare minimum' requirement would be backing up the files. There are a few servers - mail, web, db, so if the solution can back those up also, that would be a big bonus - however there is already a tape backup system in place for those. –  Scott Szretter Mar 1 '11 at 11:27
If its just files on client computers then as Ben says, the best method might be to collect them in one place, on a server, and do the backup from there. If you can't actually have people work directly from the network for some reason, if they must have local copies of data, then perhaps you can have their my documents folder sync with the network on logoff? –  RobM Mar 1 '11 at 11:53
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If you have 1500 desktop machines and you want to back them all up individually, you're doing something very, very wrong.

With that number of computers, you will want centralised file servers which all your users save their data on, and you back up those centralised file servers.

You can get something like Backup Exec which will give you a plethora of options to back up your data, and you can also get the data copied off site. A few Backup Exec licenses will be nothing compared to the price of CrashPlan on that many computers.

Backing up that many client computers individually to an on site server sounds like it will be prohibitively expensive in terms of the disk space you need to store all those backup files. I wouldn't even like to imagine the amount of bandwidth or time it would take to transfer even daily incremental backups over the internet.

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What if you have 1500 traveling salespeople and remote service technicians? What if most of your employees work from home? There can easily be solid business reasons for needing remote PC/laptop backups. –  mfinni Feb 27 '11 at 18:33
mfinni - if someone has an edge case like that then they would need to plan for it and budget for it from the start (and these days, employees working from home and the like could do so via VPN, terminal services gateway or something similar which keeps their data on site), sales people often consume more data than they directly generate, etc. What they shouldn't do is deploy 1500 machines and then think afterward "Uh oh: We haven't planned any of this, how are we gonna back it up and by the way the budget is whatever I find down the back of the break room couches" –  RobM Feb 27 '11 at 20:46
@Robert - I absolutely agree with you. I was disagreeing with @Ben, saying that there's no reason to backup that many user machines. I work for Iron Mountain (although not in the division that makes Connected), and I know we have some big customers that do exactly that (or more.) –  mfinni Feb 28 '11 at 14:43
I am hoping that backups will not be too bad as 99% of the users are simply using office - word and excel documents. –  Scott Szretter Mar 1 '11 at 11:34
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Zmanda is ok for the price but it lacks a lot of features that you would probably expect in an "enterprise" level backup solution. Bacula is a slightly more robust solution for a better price (free). It is quite scalable and customizable but lacks a lot of usability features as well as some functionalities that would be considered standard in typical enterprise backup solutions (deduplication and more).

Honestly though if the price of Crashplan is too much than most enterprise products are probably going to out of your price range. Figure out which features you can't live with out and then you can figure out which product is right for and how much it will cost. Backups are expensive. Pay only for what you need.

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I've been having great success with Barracuda's Backup servers/off-site cloud backup plans.

There's no additional licensing fees per server, client/agent, OS (supports *nix/Mac file-based backups via SSH; Windows agents support Exchange (InfoStore/mail-level backups), MSSQL, System State, and files).

The only thing you pay for is capacity, on-site (disk space) in the 1-2U servers depending on size, and off-site which is a flat $ per GB rate. Sscheduled/throttled off-site backups make sure that you're not saturating your Internet connection during business hours, and deduplication ensures that only block-level differences are being stored/pushed off-site to maximize capacity.

Regardless, I think backing up 1500 workstations within a reasonable backup window is assinine: that's alot of network activity that would have to be decentralized and/or would require serious infrastructure changes to accommodate.

Why not just setup proper Group Policies/roaming profiles/My Documents redirection (with some training so users know that anything outside of the designated directories on their machines will not be backed up) and get the data on the servers where it belongs?

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