Your new Windows server came with its own backup application, but is it enough? Just as the type of work you do dictates your small business network architecture, so should it help you realize that the one size fits all Microsoft Server Backup approach doesn’t exactly fit all situations. Your own network configuration could make backing up your server one that requires multiple applications with knowledge of several work-around techniques.
Attempting to keep so many moving parts working together can be disastrous for your recovery. What you need is a server backup that combines the capabilities of multiple applications in a single management console. Unfortunately, most server administrators don’t realize this fact until it’s too late and their data is lost forever.
Forever is a long time, and time is not something that you have to spare when the network is down. As part of your business recovery strategy, you need to know when your network will be back and how much of your data you can expect to recover. How long it will take to get your network back up and running – your Recovery Time Objective – and how far to go into your backups – your Recovery Point Objective – should be your main concerns. Knowing that you will have the tools, features and options available to reach your goals of making your network complete goes a long way towards providing you with that peace of mind.
Planning your backup strategy is no small task and you likely will want to eliminate some of the guesswork. We’ve gone through some of the best Windows server backup solutions available to make your job easier. See our articles about Windows server backup software to learn more, and read the reviews of the top selections – Backup & Recovery Server for Windows, BackupAssist and NovaBackup Server – to see which may be right for you.
All of the backup applications we reviewed can outperform Windows Server Backup, both in terms of customized scheduling features as well as restoration methods. The best server backup software for you should be able to perform hands-free routine backups while ensuring your data is recoverable if there's a catastrophic failure.
Server backup software can be complex, more so than any other type of backup software you’ve used. Among the things we looked for was how easy the management tools are to use and the kinds of support you can count on if you got stuck. We also looked for software that performs well in the following categories:
Whether you have a little or a lot of experience with servers, server backup software shouldn’t be a challenge to use. The software should feature centralized management, which allows you to manage multiple servers without having to change applications.
All of the server backup solutions we reviewed let you schedule backups at customized intervals, some as often as every 15 minutes. They also let you configure backups to run automatically in certain circumstances, such as during low-usage times.
Where all of the backup software packages we reviewed provide event logs, not all provide emailed notifications and alerts. It's important to receive alerts because sometimes an event will occur during a backup that requires your intervention. Likewise, it is helpful to have remote access to your backup software. Other management tools to look for are password management and encryption abilities.
The most advanced Windows backup software handles the data needs of modern servers with continuous data protection, versioning control, data deduplication and error checking to name a few.
Data recovery is the main concern for backup software. We reviewed each software for its ability to deliver on basic functions such as bare metal restore, physical to virtual recovery and recovery to dissimilar hardware. We also looked at the software's ability to create bootable CDs or DVDs and the ability to boot from an external USB device or recover to dissimilar hardware.
Supported Backup Media
The best Windows server backup software can back up to multiple media types. We looked for software that backs up to removable discs, network-attached storage, servers and cloud storage, among other media. Many of the best programs even support tape backup where Windows Server 2012 doesn’t.
Help & Support
Windows server backup software can be a bit challenging to configure, so excellent help and support, especially during the installation process, is critical. We looked at the type of support offered as well as whether the support is free or subscription-based. The best providers offer good support documentation as well as responsive technical support via telephone, email and chat. Some software companies also offer services to help you install and configure the software. This may require a setup fee, but it is a useful service for those who don't employ a full-time IT person.
Whether you’re a small business owner or an IT consultant, you know that keeping a regular backup regimen is vital. Successfully deploying Windows server backup software is an important first step.