Despite the strong reliability of computing hardware, you need to consider the risk of failure either through environmental damage or malicious activity. Backing up your data can take two forms: a series of periodic snapshots, or incremental updates to an initial copy.
The choice of the strategy that you will choose will depend on the stability of your environment. For example, it is more common in development environments to take complete periodic copies of all data in case a programmer makes an erroneous change to the software, causing data to be incorrectly adjusted.
Incremental backups are much quicker to perform. After an initial copy of the server’s contents, any additions or alterations are rippled through to the backup immediately, making the copy a mirror server.
Simply copying the contents of one server onto storage media or another server kept on the same site might not be enough. Fire or flooding at your premises will destroy your backup device as well as the original server. It is a better plan to copy your data to a device that is physically located elsewhere. Thanks to the internet, the transfer of this data can be set up to run automatically as a background process without needing to use a portable storage medium.
Internet data transfers should always be protected with authentication procedures and encryption. You also need to make sure that data confidentiality is guaranteed at the backup site if it is a location that is not run by your organization.
You have a lot of options when seeking an offsite facility for backup. Thanks to stiff competition, the rental of space on Cloud servers has become very cheap. There are also syncing offers to consider, which combine the software and the space needed to back up your servers in one service package.
The best server backup software
We have taken into account the many different circumstances that any business would be in when needing to back up a server. We also looked at the software packages available and the Cloud backup services that have all of the management software bundled in with the storage subscription price.
Here is our list of the ten best server backup software:
- SolarWinds MSP Backup (FREE TRIAL) A service of SolarWinds’ MSP software division.
- Cloudberry Backup: A range of backup solutions for different sizes of enterprise.
- Acronis Backup: Server backups for Linux and Windows Server.
- Veritas Backup Exec: Formerly Symantec Backup Exec.
- Altaro VM Backup: Backup virtual servers.
- Veeam Backup and Replication: A range of backup solutions for Windows, Linux, and virtual servers.
- Bacula: Free backup for Windows, Linux, and Unix servers.
- Amanda: Backups for Windows, Linux, Unix, and virtual servers.
- Quest Rapid Recovery: Creates backup to Azure Cloud servers.
- Datto Virtual SIRIS: Backup Windows, Linux, and virtual servers.
You can read more about each of these utilities in the following sections.
SolarWinds MSP Backup is part of a suite of utilities produces for managed service providers (MSPs). However, the tool can be bought and operated separately; it is a suitable backup utility for in-house use as well as a necessary facility for companies that run services for other companies.
The backup system is more than software because it includes the provision of storage space on remote servers. You don’t need to install the software on your servers – this is Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and you access the console through a web browser.
You can manage multiple resources through the same account and all can be accessed through the dashboard’s Home page. The backup service can manage the contents of virtual servers as well as physical servers.
Servers can be backed up right down to, and including, the operating system. It is also possible to back up the contents of workstations. You can create a central document store backup with the tool and also back up mail servers running Microsoft Exchange. Sharepoint files and MySQL databases can be replicated with this system. If you use OneDrive for a cloud-based file server, you can back that up with SolarWinds Backup.
Data transfers in this environment deploy compression to speed up backup and recovery times. Rather than running one central data center, SolarWinds has service points strategically placed around the globe.
Both transfers and storage are protected by AES encryption with a 256-bit key – the strongest encryption in commercial use today. This encryption is applied end-to-end, which means that there is no intermediate point in the connection where snoopers or even data center staff can access your data.
Updates to files can be archived, letting you access earlier versions to restore. Restoration of data can be performed bare metal, physical-to-virtual, or virtual-to-virtual. The SolarWinds Backup console enables you to command any of these scenarios and the backup software takes care of all the detailed tasks needed to get your data recovered.
SolarWinds Backup is available on a 30-day free trial.
Cloudberry offers Cloud-based backup services for MSPs, for small enterprises, and for individuals. The MSP package is called Managed Backup. The service allows MSPs to brand the console themselves, selling it to their customers in whatever way they choose.
This service includes image-based backup, file-level backup and also direct support for data generated by Microsoft products. The image-based system works at the block level. Once an initial copy has been taken, only blocks that show changes will be copied over. Data transfers are speeded up through the use of compression. Although not responsible for security at the storage provider, Cloudberry protects data transfers with AES encryption using a 256-bit key.
The software for this backup service runs on the device that is being protected. This could be a server or a desktop computer. The software runs on Windows, Windows Server, Linux, and Mac OS. Virtual servers composed by VMWare and Hyper-V can be backed up with Cloudberry. It is also possible to backup and restore all of a server right down to the operating system, which is called “base metal restore” (BMR).
Cloudberry doesn’t include storage along with its backup software. Instead, businesses can choose from a panel of compatible cloud storage providers, including AWS and Google Cloud Platform.
Although Managed Backup is marketed for MSPs, it would also be suitable for use by the centralized IT support department of a large business.
Smaller businesses would be better off accessing the Cloudberry Standalone Backup software. This is available for Windows systems, including Windows Server. It will also backup Exchange Server and SQL Server. You can get a 15-day free trial of this software and the desktop version is free for personal use.
The version for Linux servers and endpoints will run on Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, RHEL, CentOS, and Suse Linux. The company produces a free version of this package for personal use. There are also versions for Mac workstations with a 15-day free trial for business and a free license for personal use.
The small business backup software will cover VMWare and Hyper-V virtualizations and it can also be set to back up Office 365 and G Suite activities.
Acronis offers three services: backup, disaster recovery, and cloud storage. These can be used individually or as a bundle. Businesses would be most interested in the server backup software offered by Acronis. This runs on Windows Server and Linux.
The backup service runs as virtualization over either VMWare or Hyper-V. You can use it to back up to network attached storage, a storage area network, another local server, tape, or a cloud storage service, which could be the Acronis Cloud Storage service.
You can back up your virtualizations directly if they are run by Citrix XenServer, VMWare vSphere, Hyper-V, Red Hat Virtualization, Oracle VM Server, and Linux KVM. Many of your application servers can be mirrored directly. These include Exchange Server, SQL Server, Sharepoint, Active Directory, and Oracle databases.
The console of the software is browser-based and you can access it from any location as long as the host server is connected to the internet.
Acronis also produces a version tailored to MSPs and backup software for personal use. You can get a 30-day free trial of the Acronis Backup software for businesses.
Veritas Backup Exec has been through a number of changes in ownership over the years. It was created in 1980 by Maynard Electronics, which was taken over by companies that were eventually taken over by Seagate Technology, which used the software as part of its storage solutions for businesses. This division was bought by Veritas in 1999, which in turn was bought by Symantec in 2005. Symantec developed and marketed Backup Exec until 2016, when Veritas was spun off as a separate company, taking Backup Exec with it. There are still versions of Symantec Backup Exec in use today.
Backup Exec operates as a storage area network controller. You install it on its own server, running Windows Server and storage devices are attached to that server. The Backup Exec server communicates with your other servers and endpoints over the network. The sources of data to be backed up are called “clients.” The Backup Exec server can pull data from remote sites over the internet and can also substitute remote or cloud servers for the storage media.
The Backup service can mirror virtualizations, Microsoft Hyper-V, and VMWare vSphere. Data can be stored to AWS S3, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform storage.
You can get Veritas Backup Exec on a 60-day free trial.
Altaro specializes in backing up virtual servers. Its capabilities are focused on VMWare and Hyper-V virtualizations. This system is primarily designed to help businesses replicate their virtual servers on one or all of their other sites through this software. That offsite copy can just as easily be stored on a cloud server. There is also a version aimed at MSPs and SaaS resellers – it can be white-labeled to carry the brand of the intermediary.
The initial backup procedure identifies copies of the same data and only transfers and stores it once, marking the original duplicate locations so they can still be restored to any of those places. Another optimization feature is its Continuous Data Protection feature (CDP) which checks for changes in data every five minutes and only copies that. Separate VMs can be backed up simultaneously for more speed gains. Files can be archived instead of just being backed up, which means that older versions of files are stored rather than being overwritten.
Other data transfer features with this software are compression and encryption. If you want to use a cloud server for your backup storage, Altaro provides a free controller, called Altaro Offsite Server, which provides security and connection services.
The company prides itself on its customer support department, claiming that all support calls are responded to within 30 seconds. You can get a 30-day free trial of the VM Backup software.
Veeam Backup and Replication is a very similar product to the Altaro VM Backup system. This tool focuses on replicating virtualizations and is capable of working with VMWare vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V. The agent software for this system can run on Windows server and Linux. Other agents are available to back up IBM AIX and Oracle Solaris servers.
The Backup and Replication system is a standalone product and is also part of the Veeam Availability Platform. This suite combines the backup system with the Veaam One network management tool. You can get a 30-day free trial of Veeam Backup and Replication. A lightweight version of Backup and Replication is available for small businesses. This is called Backup Essentials and you can also get this software on a 30-day free trial.
Bacula is a free, open source backup utility for Linux. The source code is also available for Windows and Mac OS. The software package is made up of five elements, which includes a graphical interface, a file server to manage data transfers, and a storage manager that runs on the backup server and receives and returns files. It also has a module that can replicate databases. You need to install a client program on each machine that is being served by the backup system.
You don’t get any storage space bundled with this software, so the choice of where you save your backup files is up to you. You can implement both full and incremental backups with this software. Processes can be automated through a scripting language. A big shortfall of this software is that it doesn’t encrypt data transfers. However, you can slot in a third-party encryption system via the scripting language.
This is free open source backup software, written for Linux that can back up servers and endpoints running Linux, Unix, Mac OS, or Windows. The name of the tool is an acronym for “Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver.” Storage devices can be tape or local disks. Essentially, this is a controller for a network-attached storage system for backups.
Quest Software was known as Dell Software until 2016 when Dell sold the division off to venture capitalists. The Rapid Recovery tool is one of the company’s main products.
This backup system installs on Windows Server, but not on Core versions of the operating system. Agents install on Windows and RHEL, SuSE, CentOS, Debian, and Ubuntu Linux. The software can replicate and manage recovery for VMware ESXi and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualizations. It is also capable of backing up data from cloud servers: Microsoft Azure, Amazon S3 and Glacier, Rackspace, and Google, or any OpenStack implementations. Backups can be saved to a disk on the local site, to a remote site, or to cloud storage.
The interface for this backup system is browser-based, which gives access to your recovery server from anywhere.
SIRIS will protect your on-premises servers, virtual servers, and cloud servers. The software acts as a NAS controller, but you can store to offsite cloud storage as well as attached storage. The Datto system uses image-based backups and you can copy in bulk or set to incremental backups. As well as backing up your Windows Server and Linux servers, this software can back up workstations running Windows, Linux, and Mac OS.
Datto offers its own cloud storage solution to bundle in with the recovery software. Stored data is protected by encryption as are all communications with the remote server and data transfers. In both transit and at rest, 256-bit key AES encryption provides protection.