I am the sole sysadmin for a small software development company, and occasionally I get help from either my boss or one of the engineers. So its sort of a 1.5 person scenario.

We are currently using backupexec 9, and its definitely showing its age. We have a sql2005 & sharepoint box it basically cant touch, and are considering some virtualized solutions that it wont be able to service either.

Ive looked at somewhere near 6 solutions at this point, and they all appear to do what we probably want. So far ive given a cursory review to CA ARCServe, Barracuda Yosemite, BackupExec, BackupExpress, and Acronis. I was recently recommended to check out tivoli, although i havent gotten around to it.

BackupExec is very expensive. With all the features we would be wanting out of it, it came to more than 12k.

I spoke with the CA rep, and he put me in with the features i wanted for somewhere around 4k, which is better but still not great.

So finally, the question: Are any of these packages "avoid at all costs"? Anyone using CA right now? Love/Hate it?

  • "Backup maze"? Maze? – Evan Anderson Jun 29 '09 at 19:40
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    I assume you are looking at list prices for things? Don't do that. Contact a reseller and get an upgrade quote for Backup Exec. Use two resellers if you need to get the pricing down further. Oh, and avoid CA. – Doug Luxem Jun 29 '09 at 19:41
  • What features are you looking at in Backup Exec, anyway? $12K is a lot of Backup Exec. I wouldn't spend any money for "Continuous Protection" or "Intelligent Disaster Recovery" (or whatever they're calling these "features" these days...) – Evan Anderson Jun 29 '09 at 19:43
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    I have it on good authority that CA doesn't use their own software. Draw your own conclusion from that. – Scott Jun 29 '09 at 22:33
  • @Scott: Surely they're using some kind of helpdesk automation software they wrote themselves, though. Every time I ever called it seemed like my ticket number was invalid or the wrong notes came up. smile – Evan Anderson Jun 29 '09 at 23:12

14 Answers 14


I wouldn't use CA ARCServe if you paid me to use it. A lot. Lots and lots. If terrorists asked me for a recommendation on a backup solution I wouldn't even recommend ARCServe to them. Backup Exec has never caused a server of mine to "blue screen"-- ARCServe did it all the time 4 - 5 years ago. Symantec's support isn't wonderful, but CA's was down right hostile (again, 4 - 5 years ago). Perhaps I'm holding a grudge, but the last time I looked at the ARCServe product, about 2 years ago, I was still fantastically unimpressed.

Backup Exec is expensive, but does generally work fairly well. My company is using it almost exclusively with our Customers (except for a little bit of NetBackup). I'm not very happy about the pricing, nor with Symantec following the long-held Veritas traditions of (a) not selling licenses for agents for older versions (forcing you to upgrade), and (b) making sure that older versions cannot handle backups of newer versions of software (SQL Server 2005 / 2008, Exchange 2007, etc).

We haven't been able to find anything better.

Microsoft Data Protection Manager looks interesting, but I hear it's pretty pricey, too.

A former co-worker of mine, now working at a Fortune 500 company, mentioned Atempo LiveBackup (http://www.atempo.com/products/liveBackup/default.asp) a few months ago, but I haven't had a chance to look at it. Apparently they were thinking pretty strongly about replacing Backup Exec with it. That seemed like fairly high praise, but he wasn't a heavy Backup Exec user so he couldn't really comment on its similarities / differences. If you happen to give it a look, drop me a line. I'd love to hear what somebody used to Backup Exec thinks about it.

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    So how do you feel about ARCServe? grin – squillman Jun 29 '09 at 19:36
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    "ARCServe ate my baby." – Evan Anderson Jun 29 '09 at 19:39
  • I can't agree more with Evan's evaluation of Ca's product. I was forced to use it at a client, I should have just let them shoot me. DPM isn't that pricey when used in a virtual environment see: microsoft.com/systemcenter/en/us/management-suites.aspx – Jim B Jun 29 '09 at 20:05
  • If you thought that was bad, try it under NetWare. – RainyRat Jun 29 '09 at 20:09
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    The only time "Arcserve" should appear in a question about backup is when the question is something like "Help, I installed arcserve by mistake, how do I do a disaster recovery with my real backup program to correct this terrible error in judgement?" -- as for pricing, it might be $12k to buy the solution you (probably need) and that might seem expensive. What's the cost of NOT having reliable backups? More or less than $12k? That's your answer right there. – Rob Moir Sep 9 '10 at 15:02

My motto here is "all backup software sucks". Having said that, since you're used to the quirks and foibles of BE, I'd recommend sticking to that route rather than switching to an alternative product and giving yourself a whole new set of quirks and foibles to get used to.

You can get VERY cheap BE licensing, by the way, if you approach resellers in the right way, as mentioned above. An added bonus, if you're in a position where Symantec view you as a customer they might want to piggy-back on for more business elsewhere, is that they actually are prepared to turn a blind eye to their normal support policies every now and then (but don't tell anyone I said that... ;)

  • All Windows backup software, at least. I've found rsync/cron to be a a rock solid setup on the Linux servers I have to work on. – Dentrasi Jan 31 '10 at 15:00
  • @Dentrasi - copies are not backups, unless you're also doing something to get those backups versioned and offline. – mfinni Sep 9 '10 at 13:47

I am lone geek at a 10 person marketing and sales division, and I am using EMC Retrospect. I like it, and here's what I like:

  • Under $1k for their Multi-Server version (backs up servers, PCs and Macs)
  • They charge extra for special add-ons for SQL Server and Exchange backups, if you want them.
  • Backs up to plain old hard drives, I use 2 on an A/B schedule, where Retrospect handles "grooming" - where it drops out older versions as space runs out (totally configurable) - I take one off-site every night.
  • Easy to setup (I am a programmer first, and IT guy second, so I don't have extensive training in backup technologies).
  • Disks keep getting cheaper and larger.
  • I've been using it for about 4 years, and their support is great, and I have yet to lose anything or have any problems retrieving files.

I also use this in conjunction with TrueCrypt - I keep my drives encrypted to protect against theft. (Note, you need a dual-core or better to handle the encryption).

ps: I have no relationship with EMC/Retrospect except as happy customer.

They are here: http://www.retrospect.com/products/software/retroforwin/

  • So, the backups are easy to set up. Have you (had to, and been able to) successfully Restore? A backup solution is only as good as your ability to restore... – gWaldo Sep 9 '10 at 13:02

Bakbone Netvault may fit your budget. I use it for my "small workgroup" and it hasn't let me down yet.


I was suprised to find myself really liking HP's dataprotector. I've used all the usual suspects (BE, tivoli, networker etc) and HP's got a solid product. It's relativly simple to use. My only real gripe is that if you're required to do any sort of non-standard reporting the reporting tools that come with it are almost worthless and the reporting tool add in for their storage product is laughably expensive.

The pricing is great (essentially it's per backup device not client, and any extra integrations span the enterprise), the support has been great, and most importantly it's been trouble free (relatively speaking)


I tried the HP Dataprotector briefly and, well, Evan's rant against ARCServe covers my sentiments nicely. ;) The interface was terrible (admittedly, I'm used to Backup Exec), and HP support had a ball passing me around between departments for weeks on end.

My experience with Retrospect was as a backup to the Backup Guy, so I wasn't as arms-deep as I would've preferred, but aside from a slightly cryptic interface, it was able to do everything asked of it, and is very, very hands-off once you have everything configured.

If I were replacing the backup right now (it's a nice dream), I'd think seriously about Retrospect.


I'd like to see more people comment on their ability to do Restores. Setting it up is important, as is your ability to monitor success/failure and to remediate defects.

But the proof is in the restore.


We use BackupExec, and are reasonably satisfied with it. I second the suggestions to shop around on pricing.

That said, you may wish to consider an online backup solution such as Iron Mountain. Given the expense of a server, software, tape drives and tape, the monthly expense might make sense.

Note: Iron Mountain bought LiveVault, remember the John Cleese video?


Since no other open source solutions have been brought up yet, have you considered looking at Bacula at all? I haven't played around with it much yet, but I need to get myself around to testing it in a few VMs. It has a nice modular design, and has supports backing up the usual Windows / Linux / FreeBSD.


Have you taken a look at Zmanda? I haven't used it, but it might fit the bill.


I used ArcServe for about 8 years and never had a problem until about 18 months ago, when there were compatibility issues with then recent Microsoft updates. Hardly a surprise, as at that time there were compatibility issues even between updates issued at the same time. Unfortunately, CA was distinctly less than helpful, telling me the only possible solution was to purchase the latest version of ArcServe. In the past they would have supplied a patch.

I now use Backup Exec. The main reason for the change is not the problem described above but the need to backup Windows, Linux and Mac, all from a central Windows machine. There are also a range of services, such a SQL Server and Exchange that need to be catered for. BE is horrendously expensive but it does have considerable flexibility and numerous options to cater for a very diverse range of situations. On the down-side, I really hate the unintuitive interface where everything is harder to do than it needs to be because what I want is usually not where I would expect to find it. Of course once it's properly configured there should be little need to use said interface. Emailed alerts keep me well informed, so I only connect when performing random test restores.

When looking for an alternative I did consider Bacula but I've never been able to actually get it to do what others seem to have no trouble in achieving. Perhaps it's just because Linux is not my native language. ;)


We use Data Protection Manager from Microsoft and we like it. Its not the most easy thing to manage at times (some tasks have to be done by scripts/powershell) but it does a great job at protecting the Microsoft workloads (SQL/Hyper-V/Exchange/etc).

Pricing will be about 10-15% cheaper then what you find on this page: http://www.microsoft.com/systemcenter/en/us/data-protection-manager/dpm-pricing-licensing.aspx

Basically: $400/server to backup workloads/everything else (workloads can be SQL/Exchange/etc) $150/server to just backup sys state/files (can't back up workloads) $30/pc to backup a PC

Edit: I will add that we used Backup exec before switching to DPM. We went from two backup exec installs on two separate servers to one centralized backup server with added drives for disk to disk.


Haven't seen anyone recommend CommVault? I've played with it briefly for an old client, so I don't have a lot of personal experience, but I know a lot of people that like it. Including my current company, which is migrating to it.

Most of my experience is with BE 9/10 (decent for my use of them, although kind of annoying) and Legato Networker 7.2-7.3, which was damned spiffy but not that easy to learn.


At my small development company, we threw out all our backup hardware & software recently and switched to the cloud with Carbonite Pro.

Everything is instantly stored off-site, it's cheap, and it's easy to restore.

For SQL databases, just set up a SQL task to back up the database to a folder, and have your backup software use that folder instead.

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