Retrospect: No-Frills Backup

Workgroup software for Windows ACES basics.

Version 6.5 of Dantz Development Corp.s Retrospect Backup for Windows Multi Server software provides solid workgroup-class backup at a reasonable price.

Retrospect Backup for Windows 6.5 Multi Server

Retrospect 6.5 provides quick, easy backup and restoration for Windows, Linux, Solaris and Mac OS clients. Retrospect 6.5 supports a wide variety of media, and its simple operation makes it a good choice for small and remote offices. The unlimited remote server backup license makes it a good deal for IT managers who need to back up several servers. For more information, go to
















PRO: Easy to deploy; clean, simple interface; supports many media types.

CON: No NetWare support.

• Veritas Backup Exec 9.0
• Computer Associates International Inc.s ArcServe

At $1,099 for a single Windows server with unlimited server client support licenses (one local server with unlimited server clients backing up to the primary server), the price alone is a good-enough reason to investigate Retrospect 6.5, which shipped earlier this month.

Retrospect 6.5s features include support for multidrive tape libraries and Windows Server 2003. It also adds protection of Exchange Server and SQL Server data via agents, which cost $699 each to add to the Multi Server edition but are included in the $749 Small Business Server edition. Other add-on packages available for Retrospect 6.5 are Open File Backup, which costs $699, and a $699 Advanced Tape Support Add-On, which allows IT managers to run tasks in parallel across multiple drives.

The Retrospect Small Business Server edition is a solid choice for remote offices because it includes Exchange Server and SQL Server agents as well as disaster recovery functionality at a reasonable price.

In eWEEK Labs tests of the Multi Server edition, we found that Retrospect 6.5 had more than just an aggressive list price to recommend it. Its new capabilities and ease of use make it a good choice for IT managers looking to back up small offices or remote facilities, where experienced IT staff might not be readily available.

Retrospect 6.5s client backup capabilities were impressive in our tests (see screen). The software automatically detected our notebook computer clients and ran backup jobs when they connected to the network.

Installing Retrospect 6.5 on a Windows 2000 server and on a Windows XP Professional workstation took only a couple of minutes in tests. The packages wizard-driven interface is extremely simple and easy to navigate—the software walked us through the entire backup-and-restore process, including media selection and configuration.

Media support is a strength of Retrospect. In our tests, the application was able to work with midrange drives and auto-loaders, including a Dell Computer Corp. PowerStore 122T with Linear Tape Open tape drives, as well as with optical drives, including an iLink-connected Sony Electronics Inc. Sony DRU-500AX removable DVD recorder.

Retrospect 6.5 can also back up to hard drives and network-attached storage file shares, to give IT managers who have extra disk storage the flexibility to run high-speed backups to disk.

The backup process was not particularly speedy in tests but was nevertheless free of complications. More interesting was the restoration process: It was quick, even when we attempted to restore data from a double-speed DVD-R disk.

We liked the fact that Retrospect 6.5 gave us warnings when restoring volumes and forced us to recheck our restoration target points. Impressively, it also warned us of the possibility of erasing data when we happened to choose the wrong restore point.

Client support includes Windows (from 95 to XP), Mac OS 7.1 and up, Solaris 8, and Linux. Retrospects lack of NetWare support could be a negative for some sites. Competitors, including Veritas Software Corp.s Backup Exec 9.0, support NetWare via agents.

Retrospect 6.5 doesnt match Backup Exec on a feature-for-feature basis, but IT managers looking for a simple backup-and-restore solution—without additional client license costs—should investigate it.

Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar is at