New Version of Retrospect Aims to Ease Backup Pain

Monday Jan 31st 2005 by Dan Muse
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Storage giant EMC Corp. today announced the release of EMC Dantz Retrospect 7. The backup and recovery software is designed to make it easier to automate data protection for servers, desktop PCs and notebooks.

It's common sense to say that small and mid-sized businesses should regularly backup up their data. Still, it's hardly a common practice. In fact, according to research firm IDC, only about 40 percent of small businesses do it. Mid-sized businesses are only a little better — about 46 percent implement regular backups, according to IDC.

While the numbers are not encouraging, they are not surprising either. After all, SMBs with little or no in-house IT support don't have the time or training to manage what can be complex backup and restore processes. With that in mind, EMC Corp. today announced the release of EMC Dantz Retrospect 7 for Windows. The new editions of the backup and recovery software (Retrospect 7 Multi Server, Single Server, Small Business Server, Disk-to-Disk and Professional) are intended to make protecting data a simpler process for SMBs.

At the heart of Retrospect 7 is a series of new wizards designed to make it easier to back up and restore servers, desktops and notebooks in environments that may be running multiple operating systems such as Windows, Mac OS, Linux, and Solaris.

The wizards focus on the three Ws of backup. That is, they help SMBs select what type of data, drives, files, folders to back up; where (i.e., to disk, tape or optical devices) to back it up and when to schedule it.

"When we say 'ease of use,' we don't mean we have a GUI," said Don Chouinard, director of product management at EMC.

EMC Dantz Retrospect 7 includes new disk-to-disk-to-tape capabilities to facilitate backup to disk for fast restores and automated transfers to tape. The new software also offers full synthetic backups. (A synthetic backup, which includes a full backup of a file as well as incremental backups, is needed to treat the two types of backups as a single entity.)

To make automating the backup process easier for SMBs, Retrospect 7 uses data grooming to ensure that backups do not exceed a specified disk capacity. You set the desired number of restore points (e.g., 10, 20, 30) and Retrospect clears out old backups as necessary to accommodate new backups.

If accepting new backups requires clearing out more backups than the number you selected (for example, it would drop restore points to less than 30), a dialog box asks you whether you want to add more disk capacity or reset the number of restore points to a lower number. With this approach, Chouinard said, a small business is neither surprised by deleted backup sets nor are they forced to scramble to manually clear out old backups.

Backing up notebook PCs is especially challenging, Chouinard said. "When is it a good time to back up notebooks? The answer is never," he said. "If you have a dedicated IT department, it's not a problem. They live for this stuff." For small businesses, it's another matter. "Our system is clever enough to recognize notebooks. For example, say you start a backup from a notebook and then pull the plug because you have to catch a train. The next time you connect, it knows where the backup left off." Retrospect 7 then continues the backup from that point.

According to Chouinard, Retrospect 7 also addresses nightly backups. A typical SMB, he said, might have 150 PCs, 10 servers and 40 notebooks. "Let's say you have 200 computers — prioritized in importance — with a daily backup scheduled to start at midnight," he said. "If the backup gets 80 percent through before it runs out of time, other systems would start all over again the next night at the top of the list. Retrospect 7 is smart enough to pick up where it left off."

Retrospect 7 also offers increased data security with 128-bit AES encryption on backup media. This is particularly important, Chouinard said, for businesses using removable storage. "If your backup's not encrypted, you really shouldn't be sleeping at night."

Retrospect 7 is available immediately at the following list prices:

  • Retrospect Multi Server starting at $1,299
  • Retrospect Single Server starting at $699
  • Retrospect Small Business Server starting at $499
  • Retrospect Disk-to-Disk starting at $299
  • Retrospect Professional starting at $299
Dan Muse is executive editor of internet.com's Small Business Channel and EarthWeb's Networking & Communications Channel.

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