Acro­nis Backup 12.5

Acro­nis has ev­ery backup base cov­ered with a huge plat­form sup­port and builtin ran­somware pro­tec­tion

PC Pro - - November 2017 Issue 277 - DAVE MITCHELL

“While short of Acro­nis’ re­cov­ery time ob­jec­tive, get­ting a Win­dows server back in un­der seven min­utes is good enough for us”

SCORE ✪✪✪✪✪ PRICE

Stan­dard/1 server/3 years, £689 exc VAT from acro­nis.com

Acro­nis’ Backup 12.5 suite brings a wealth of new fea­tures: more ver­sa­tile backup op­tions, broader plat­form sup­port, gran­u­lar Ex­change mail­box pro­tec­tion and even built-in ran­somware pro­tec­tion.

One im­prove­ment is vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion sup­port. Acro­nis Backup now works with six hy­per­vi­sor plat­forms, and can au­to­mat­i­cally con­vert back­ups to VMs. Acro­nis also adds sup­port for stand­alone tape drives, au­toload­ers and li­braries for au­to­mated ar­chiv­ing.

Backup 12.5 is avail­able in stan­dard and ad­vanced edi­tions; if you buy the for­mer, you can up­grade to the lat­ter by sim­ply adding a new li­cence. The man­age­ment server can also be de­ployed in the cloud, but this doesn’t cur­rently match all the fea­tures of the on-premises ver­sion.

It took us five min­utes to in­stall the man­age­ment server on a Pow­erEdge host run­ning Win­dows Server 2016. The slick web con­sole now in­cludes a cus­tomis­able dash­board with drag-and-drop wid­gets. De­ploy­ing agents to Win­dows work­sta­tions and servers took just 90 sec­onds per sys­tem. Where apps such as SQL Server are be­ing pro­tected, you can just se­lect the rel­e­vant agent – the stan­dard sys­tem agent will be in­tel­li­gently de­ployed along with it.

You can choose lo­cal and net­work shared stor­age, SFTP (se­cure FTP) servers, tape drives or Acro­nis’ cloud stor­age ser­vice. The Ad­vanced ver­sion lets you in­stall the Stor­age Node ser­vice on your own Win­dows host, which pro­vides cen­tral re­source man­age­ment and is re­quired for the dedu­pli­ca­tion ser­vice.

Your backup strat­egy is as­sem­bled in the form of “plans”, which bring to­gether backup sources, sched­ules, des­ti­na­tions, ap­pli­ca­tions, re­ten­tion pe­ri­ods and en­cryp­tion op­tions. Back­ups de­fault to “al­ways in­cre­men­tal”, but tra­di­tion­al­ists can also choose an old-school GFS (“grand­fa­ther, fa­ther, son”) strat­egy.

The new anti-ran­somware fea­ture keeps an eye out for du­bi­ous ac­tiv­ity; if it sees a rogue pro­gram med­dling with your files, it can au­to­mat­i­cally kill the process and re­store the files from the agent’s ser­vice cache. We tested this by en­crypt­ing a group of files on a test host: the agent stopped the process and re­verted all the files back to their orig­i­nal state in sec­onds.

To test reg­u­lar backup func­tions, we set up a 27TB NAS ap­pli­ance share as our des­ti­na­tion, along with lo­cal stor­age on the man­age­ment server. We also con­fig­ured an HPE Ul­trium LTO-7 SAS tape drive con­nected to a Win­dows Stor­age Node host, to be used as a shared backup lo­ca­tion.

Re­sults were ex­cel­lent. When we backed up 120GB of data from a Win­dows Server 2012 R2 sys­tem to the NAS share over Gi­ga­bit Eth­er­net, the op­er­a­tion com­pleted at an av­er­age of 204MB/sec – much faster than a di­rect file copy, thanks to Acro­nis’ smart use of com­pres­sion. Back­ing up 25GB of test data to the LTO-7 tape drive com­pleted at an av­er­age of 150MB/sec.

Hy­per-V back­ups are a dod­dle, too. Af­ter load­ing the agent on our host server, all VMs were im­me­di­ately listed in the con­sole. No agents are needed on VMs, and each of our Win­dows 10 VMs was backed up to the NAS share in un­der three min­utes. When it’s time to re­store files from your back­ups, the In­stant Re­store fea­ture can quickly con­vert a full sys­tem backup to a VMware or Hy­per-V vir­tual ma­chine. Acro­nis claims an RTO (re­cov­ery time ob­jec­tive) of as lit­tle as 15 sec­onds; we tested this by re­cov­er­ing a Win­dows Server 2012 R2 sys­tem backup as a Hy­per-V vir­tual ma­chine. The con­ver­sion took 68 sec­onds, and while the first boot on vir­tual hard­ware was com­par­a­tively slow, we were sit­ting at a func­tional desk­top around five min­utes later. That’s some way short of the claimed RTO, but get­ting an en­tire Win­dows server fully back in ac­tion in un­der seven min­utes is good enough for us.

Acro­nis Backup 12.5 has vir­tu­ally ev­ery data pro­tec­tion an­gle cov­ered for busi­nesses of all sizes. With its ex­ten­sive vir­tu­al­i­sa­tion sup­port, ease of use and value, it’s our top soft­ware backup choice.

LEFT We had no prob­lems us­ing Backup 12.5 to re­cover a Win­dows Server 2012 R2 host as a Hy­per-V VM

ABOVE Acro­nis’ Dash­board pro­vides an over­view of backup ac­tiv­ity and can be eas­ily cus­tomised

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