Reviewing GFI Backup 2010

August 3, 2010 at 5:51 pm | Posted in GFI Backup | 2 Comments
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A good backup solution and strategy in our organization is a key factor when we want to talk about continuity in our business. Unfortunately not all companies discuss this issue as an important matter.

Just to avoid the responsibility and the cost, I’ve seen organizations which decided not to implement a solution for backing up users’ data or just deciding using uncomfortable and ineffective strategies like “the user is responsible of maintaining their own backups”.

GFI provides another suite to simplify a lot of the work we usually have as IT guys: GFI Backup Business Edition. This software contains many features we usually look for in any number of platforms, and can lead us into a simple and efficient environment to maintain our company’s backup:

  • Easy and straight-forward configuration and deployment.
  • Centralized web-based administration interface
  • Supporting file, web and SQL Servers.
  • Email notifications about scheduled backup tasks.
  • Supporting Windows Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS).
  • High encryption levels to protect the backups: 256-bit AES.

To understand a little bit more about the components involved in GFI Backup 2010, take a look to his graphic:

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Also, for home users GFI provides a special suite; with very similar features and completely free for use. Take a look to it in GFI Backup Home Edition web site.

Ok, we can start working with this tool.

Requirements

GFI Backup 2010 does not require large capacities in hardware nor complex software configurations. The supported characteristics for server and clients are the same:

Operating System

Supported operating systems:

  • Microsoft Windows 7 (x86 or x64)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2008 (x86 or x64)
  • Microsoft Windows Vista (x86 or x64)
  • Microsoft Windows Server 2003 Standard/Enterprise (x86 or x64)
  • Microsoft Windows XP (x86 or x64)
Minimum Hardware
  • Processor: Intel Pentium 4 or higher.
  • Memory: 512mb or higher.
Communication

An important matter we should consider before implementing this solution are the necessary ports for the communication between the agents and server:

  • TCP 5580
  • TCP 5543

These ports can be customized in the installation process.

Installing GFI Backup 2010

The installation process, as any GFI product, simple and very intuitive:

1. Download the installer from GFI Backup 2010 Business Edition Site. A free registration is required.

2. Double click the installer, and follow the steps on the GFI Backup wizard.

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The steps involved, as said, are simple and you should not have any problem at this stage.

3. In “Connection Settings” we can configure the HTTP/HTTPS ports used.

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If the computer uses more than one IP, we should select it in this stage; since this is the only IP which will be reachable for GFI Backup agents.

4. In “Credentials” introduce the username and password which will be used for the installation of this tool.

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5. Complete the installation.

Once the installation is completed, the “Startup Wizard” will appear; which will require two things: credentials for the backup console and credentials for the backup/restore tasks necessary for agents.

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6. Complete the administrator console credentials and the following for client agents.

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Once we login to the Backup console, we will see a centralized dashboard where we can check the status and reports about the backup environment.

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Deploying GFI Backup Agents

For deploying GFI Backup client agents we have two basic possibilities: Group Policy deployment (recommended for a large number of users) and manual installation.

Any of the options involved will require the agent installer and XML file for the deployment. These can be found in “%ProgramFiles%\GFI\GFI Backup 2010 Administration Console\htdocs\agent

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Group Policy Deployment

As any software installation through group policy, the preferred is the MSI file we can find in the mentioned folder.

1. Copy the files to a shared folder accessible for client machines.

2. Create a new GPO using Computer Configuration > Policies > Software Installation.

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Remember you will need to reboot the machines in order for the software to be installed.

Manual Installation

The manual installation only requires double clicking the agent installation file in the client machine, and following the wizard.

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Configuring a Backup Task

Again, configuring a backup task can take just a few seconds in seven simple steps:

1. As said before, we have the possibility to backup files & folders or SQL Server databases. In this example we will use files and folders.

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2. We can choose to store this backup by using Local or external drives, shared folder, FTP location, CD/DVD media or even tape backup.

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A new wizard will appear which we can complete very easily.

3. Complete the backup task name.

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4. Select the client computer we would to extract the backup.

5. Retrieve the source folder/files we are looking for. It could take a few seconds, depending on the connection we are using.

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6. Select the destination for the backup.

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7. This step contains several options about how the backup will be stored and secured: Creating a ZIP files or not; encryption level; incremental, differential or full backup; or using versioned backups.

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8. The “Scheduler” options include several interesting we can apply in various scenarios: Running the backup on Windows startup or shutdown, for example.

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9. Also other very interesting features are presented in “Pre & Post Actions”: What to do before and after the execution of the backup; verification of the files; etc.

At this point we can also configure the mail notifications about the backups.

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10. Soon as the wizard completes, we can run the backup to verify everything is configured OK.

And monitor it in the “Reporting” area, where we can verify all the backup tasks status.

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Configuring a Restore Task

If you thought the backup process was simple, just wait to take a look to the restore process; where we can also configure to restore files/folders or databases in the original location as well as an alternate.

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1. Select the type of restore you would like to execute: Full or item-level.

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2. Select the “Source” backup, where you can also mark the option “Restore to a different location”.

Other Options

By clicking on “Settings” in GFI Backup dashboard we can set some of the features we’ve discussed earlier:

  • Using and configuring Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS)
  • Tasks priority.
  • A central location for the backups.
  • Product Updates.
  • Etc.

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Conclusions

Here’s a short summary of thoughts about this tool:

- No large or complex requirements for the installation. Supporting all common operating systems available, makes this tool really easy to find a place in our environment.

- Really simple to install and configure. We don’t need any experience with similar backup tools to configure and put this suite into production.

- Nice monitoring and reporting options. E-mails digest and the GFI Backup dashboard makes this tool very easy to maintain.

- As a con in this tool we can find the scope of the backups we can execute. There’s no possibility to retrieve system state backups or any other rather than files and databases.

- Another possibility not included is the option to deploy automatically client agents from the console, avoiding the use of Group Policies or manual installations.

Implementing a larger and complex backup solution could end up on making this vital task obsolete, with no people around it to maintain the health of the tasks and the backups itself. GFI Backup 2010 can simplify this providing a straight-forward solution which we can implement in just a few minutes. With no special configurations required for servers and clients can takes a lot of time for troubleshooting.

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  1. [...] Reviewing GFI Backup 2010 « Augusto Alvarez [...]


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