Based on well-established disk imaging technology, Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 is a very scalable solution with centralised policy-based management capable of protecting physical and virtual machines running a mix of Windows and Linux. Aimed at larger companies, the Advanced Server implementation takes time and effort to implement and isn't the easiest of products to get to grips with. However, once deployed, it proves to be a capable and feature-rich solution with optional data deduplication, just like the big boys of the backup industry.
Central policy-based back-up and management; virtual machine support; automatic backup to virtual machine conversion; local and remote bare metal recovery; optional Universal Restore and Deduplication modules.
Complex deployment; management interface and procedures take time to learn; processing overheads for deduplication option; not a cheap solution.
Management server: 1GHz processor or faster (32/64-bit) plus 1GB of RAM
Storage nodes: 4Gb of RAM recommended
Windows PC support: Windows 2000 SP4, Windows XP Pro SP2, Windows Vista, Windows 7
Windows Server support: Windows 2000 Server, Windows Server 2003/2008
Linux support: kernel 2.4.20 or later
32-bit and 64-bit OS implementations
Acronis is a well established player in the home and small business backup market, and is looking to move upmarket with the release of a more scalable enterprise solution in the shape of Acronis Backup & Recovery 10 (ABR10).
Based on the same patented disk imaging technology as the software aimed at small businesses, key features include policy-based management, fast recovery and extensive support for virtual machine environments. Data deduplication is an optional extra, and it's all billed as quick to deploy and simple to use, although we didn't find it quite as easy as expected.
Several different implementations of ABR10 are available. The Advanced Server we tested features centralised management rather than having to set up and manage each server and workstation individually. A number of components are required to achieve this, installed either on a single server or distributed around the network, including the licence server, core management tools, and agents on every server and workstation to be protected.
Deploying all of this can be a time consuming job, taking a couple of hours even on our small test network. On the plus side, wizards help automate the procedure, with SQL Server Express installed if needed to host the three databases the Acronis product employs.
To enable it to be backed up, the required agents were installed automatically onto our Windows management server, but we had to configure other network servers and PCs separately. Each requires its own licence and, although the agents can be pushed out centrally for Windows, we had to first generate the required installation files for Linux, then copy and install them manually.
There are two management consoles, one very basic and rarely used, to manage the licensing, the other to create and schedule back-up tasks, initiate recovery jobs and so on. The interface for this second console is uncluttered and easy enough to navigate, but there are lots of options and it took quite a while before we understood how it all worked and became confident in what we were doing.