Review: Backup My Info!

Despite its name, which might suggest a lightweight consumer-oriented product, Backup My Info! (or BUMI, for short) is a comprehensive cloud-based storage solution that scales for large enterprises. The product is based on technology provided by Asigra, a company that has offered backup solutions since 1986. BUMI supports an impressive array of OSs and applications, including Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Exchange Server, Microsoft SQL Server, Microsoft Office SharePoint Server, SAP’s ERP software, and Oracle databases.

Installation

BUMI engineers use remote-control technology to install the product. They’re on hand around the clock to monitor logs, inform clients if there’s a problem with a backup job, and assist with restore operations if necessary. BUMI uses two data centers based in Canada, which are ideally located for customers in North America. (If your offices are outside this region, look for a cloud solution that has data centers located close to the servers that you want to back up.)

Installation of BUMI involves assigning a server to run the DS-Client software. The client software connects through port 4401 (TCP and UDP) to the DS-Service software running at the remote data center. The firewall rule can be locked down to a specific external IP address. DS-Client uses SQL Server 2005 Express to store backup catalogs. The management interface (DS-User) is simple and intuitive.

BUMI refers to each data set created by a backup job as a generation. You can specify the number of generations that should be kept until the oldest generation of a file is overwritten. In addition, you can specify retention rules to make sure that a generation from a given time frame isn’t deleted (e.g., keep one generation per month for 1 year).

Agentless Architecture

DS-Client can perform an initial encrypted backup on a portable hard disk to send by courier to the data center. This avoids having to synchronize huge amounts of data over the Internet to make the first-generation copy. Furthermore, BUMI can keep the latest generation of backup on a local disk in addition to the copy in the remote data center, thereby enabling organizations to restore data quickly in the event of a disaster.

DS-Client can be installed on a dedicated server. You can back up any device or supported application without having to lay your hands on those devices. This reduces the risk of downtime caused by agent deployment, upgrades, or operational problems that can be created by backup programs. The ability to run agentless backup and restore operations also extends to non-Windows OSs. In my testing, I had no problem getting BUMI to back up another Windows-based server across the network. Moreover, there seemed to be no noticeable slowdown on the device while the backup was in progress. BUMI can also throttle bandwidth—a useful feature if you want to run online backups at busy times.

Disaster Recovery

During the restore process, you must click File Info to get access to any backup other than the generation that’s stored locally. This isn’t entirely intuitive, but it didn’t take long to figure out. The Restore Now Wizard dialog box opens to show the generations that are stored in the cloud. The local backup is marked for clarity. Figure 1 shows the wizard in action.

Figure 1: BUMI’s Restore Now Wizard
Complete restores of Windows servers from local storage or from the online vault are supported, but you must have an OS preinstalled, and you must include the system state and the Services database in the backup set. BUMI also supports brick-level restoration of Exchange data, down to individual messages. Backup and restore operations are performed at the maximum capacity of the client’s data circuit—unless you otherwise throttle the operation in the DS-Client configuration settings.

Two-Tier Storage

BUMI includes Asigra’s Backup Lifecycle Management, which archives non-critical data to a cheaper storage medium. This two-tier storage system lets you give priority during a restore operation to data that’s stored in the online vault over data that’s stored in the archive, thus ensuring that critical business data gets restored first.

The advantage of this two-tier system is that it helps lower costs, achieve compliance, and optimize restore operations. BUMI’s data-retention strategy is to store frequently changed files in the online vault. This typically amounts to about 10 percent of an organization’s data. The remaining 90 percent is stored at a lower cost in an archive vault. In a major disaster recovery scenario, critical data in the online vault can be restored quickly over the Internet, and the remaining archive vault data can be shipped on an encrypted disk overnight by courier, free of charge.

Data Deduplication

Asigra’s technology performs data deduplication at the client’s site when a backup job runs so that a minimum of data is transferred to the online vault. In addition, deduplication is performed at the data center to further minimize data collected if a customer has multiple DS-Client instances. This reduces the volume of data that must be stored on disk, which translates to reduced costs for customers. Deduplication isn’t applied to backups that are stored on a local disk, but local backups are compressed. BUMI uses block elimination to ensure that only the changes to files are backed up, further reducing the disk space required by the backed up data. This is the kind of advanced feature that you would expect from a mature, enterprise-class solution. In addition, data is encrypted both on disk and over the wire.

Fully Featured

Although this review can’t cover all of BUMI’s features, some other notable features include email alerting, the ability to back up virtual machines (VMs—including both ESX and Hyper-V), and basic reporting features. The simple and intuitive management interface should prove to be a bonus for backup administrators when they perform a restore operation, although the lack of a true bare-metal restore facility will increase the time required to get servers up and running again in the event of a complete system disk failure.

The knowledge that help is at hand from BUMI’s engineers also provides an extra level of confidence. Anyone who’s been in a disaster recovery situation knows that restoring an Exchange database or a Windows server can be an extremely stressful experience, even with the best of planning. Although BUMI scales for large enterprises, it’s especially suited to small-to-midsized businesses (SMBs) that have little or no onsite support and whose managers want the assurance that their data can be restored quickly.

Backup My Info!
PROS: Intelligent placement in tiered storage, compression, and deduplication of data to minimize data center storage costs; agentless architecture
CONS: Data centers limited to North America; no bare-metal restores
RATING: 4 out of 5
PRICE: $150 a month for up to 20GB (compressed); $6 per additional compressed gigabyte in the online vault and $3 per compressed gigabyte in the archive vault
RECOMMENDATION: The technology behind BUMI is mature and trusted by enterprises worldwide. BUMI is suited to companies that want the peace of mind from knowing that expert help is always on hand to deal with backup and restore issues.
CONTACT: BUMI • 866-444-2864 • www.backupmyinfo.com

 

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