Streamline standalone backup and disaster recovery

UltraBac.com's UltraBac 5.5 Stand Alone Disaster Recovery (SADR) for Windows NT streamlines partition-image backup and restoration. You can write the backup images to any local device on the NT 4.0 Hardware Compatibility List (HCL), and SADR includes a built-in utility for creating 3.5" disks that you can use to restore a nonbootable system. You can use the product alone or in conjunction with any other backup solution.

The SADR CD-ROM contains UltraBac.com's complete line of backup and recovery products; you can install components on an as-needed basis and license them over the phone (or you can download and install components from the company's Web site). I installed SADR on a Hewlett-Packard (HP) NetServer E45 with a 266MHz Pentium II processor, 64MB of RAM, three 4.2GB internal SCSI hard disks, and a DLT 8000 tape drive, which I connected to the server through an Ultra Wide SCSI controller.

I easily installed, licensed, and launched the product. Launching the program brought up a wizard that gave me several options for backing up my system. However, I couldn't tell which steps I needed to follow. I eventually found SADR procedures in the online and printed manuals, which covered the complete line of UltraBac 5.5 products and therefore weren't as useful as an SADR-specific manual might have been. I created and saved a backup set for each hard disk. Then I opened the Schedule Backup dialog box, which Figure 1 shows, created a scheduled backup, added my three backup sets, and set a time for the backup to run. (I assigned volume labels that included detailed drive and partition information.) The backup ran on schedule and copied an image of each drive—12.6GB of data in all—to tape. The operation took 21 minutes. A separate verification log showed that all backup sets were error-free. The verification operation, which SADR runs by default, took 49 minutes.

To create disaster-recovery boot disks, I launched the UltraBac Disaster Recovery File Generator from the Start menu. I needed to supply three 3.5" disks and an NT installation-file source. My SCSI and tape drivers appeared on a list of drivers to copy to the boot disks, and the generator let me add drivers for RAID or nonstandard SCSI devices before creating and labeling the disaster-recovery disks.

To simulate a catastrophic drive failure and subsequent drive replacement, I deleted the partitions on my three hard disks, then booted from the disaster-recovery disks. I needed to specify which image the program should write to which hard disk, so accurate volume labels for my backup sets were crucial.

I successfully restored the drives but ran into a minor problem with the recovery interface: After I restored Disk 0, SADR prompted me to insert a nonexistent second tape volume. An UltraBac.com engineer found a problem with the program's setupdd.sys file, and UltraBac.com sent me a new version of the file, which fixed the problem. The company informed me that it immediately fixed the bug on the downloadable software version and would also correct the CD-ROM version.

If you want simplified disaster recovery but don't want to be locked into one vendor's backup solution, SADR fits the bill, although the ability to back up to a network device would make the tool more useful. The product is intended for disaster recovery, so it can back up and restore only entire partitions. SADR's list price of $695 per server might seem a bit pricey for a standalone solution, but the product's inherent simplicity and reliability might be worth the cost.

UltraBac 5.5 Stand Alone Disaster Recovery for Windows NT
Contact: UltraBac.com * 425-644-4000
Web: http://www.ultrabac.com
Price: $695
Decision Summary:
Pros: Takes a streamlined approach that can save time and ensure success; works independently of other backup solutions; supports any storage device listed on the Windows NT 4.0 Hardware Compatibility List
Cons: Needs a more intuitive backup interface; requires a locally attached storage device; lacks a product-specific manual; can back up and restore only entire partitions