Backup app supports several devices, OSes

Arkeia Network Backup reviewed

Of the products we've tested, Arkeia Network Backup had the longest lists of supported operating-system clients and storage devices and methods, a testament to Arkeia's background as an early open source backup application, based on Linux.

Arkeia touts a long list of supported SCSI tape drives and jukeboxes, as well as Linux and Windows-based network-attached storage devices and a variety of storage-area networks (SAN). These include SCSI tape devices from HP, Exabyte and Maxtor and operating systems from SGI (iRIX), SCO (UnixWare) and Compaq (Tru64).

Arkeia is distinctively Unix-flavored and requires at least a minimal amount of Unix expertise to install, manage and audit. For example, you have to run shell commands and debug error messages if they come up.

Arkeia Network Backup runs as a server only on Linux, AIX, Solaris, IRIX, SCO UnixWare or Compaq Tru64 Unix. It cannot run on Microsoft Windows servers (which can be clients and media servers, but not administrative servers).

Installation is somewhat more difficult than average, though the supplied documentation gives very useful, operating-system-specific installation tips. Uninstallation on non-Windows platforms must be done manually, because there are no scripts or routines to do so.

We were concerned about security when we found that the Arkeia administrative GUI required us to run as root on a client or server to access Network Backup functionality. The GUI is highly flexible, letting administrators add specific storage options, such as drive types and tape sets, as target backup systems. Arkeia has no native encryption for data sent across network transports, though client-side encryption is available at extra cost. In this option, encryption key management is left to the administrator, who must find a method of key storage and policy -- without the keys, the backups are useless.

Procedurally, Arkeia Network Backup uses a backup server, a media server and clients. The backup server keeps track of where files and sets of files are stored, while the media server is a targeted storage pool fed by tape or disk storage. Arkeia permits multiple streams of data to be backed up from clients to optimize backup speed, though we found little real difference in overall backup speed when we used multiple streams.

Continuous-backup types (for example, immediate file delta backup invocation) aren't supported.

Logs are kept of messages concerning all processes, and they can be viewed in different degrees of detail, but we found no option to save them to a file.

Arkeia's administrative GUI, especially on Linux, often was difficult to use. It would appear to freeze for a time (seemingly processing), then reemerge to do more work. However, Network Backup does have installation and administrative consistency across the platforms it supports.

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