Back-up


The (dis)advantages of Cloud backup

Cloud backup (online data backup) is a service where data is remotely maintaned, managed and backed up. This service allows the use of storing backup files online, so that they can be accessed from any location due to the use of the internet.

More and more people are backupping their data to the Cloud. Many more people are thinking about it. What are the (dis)advantages?

Cloud backup

Difference between an offline/offsite back-up and a Cloud backup

A cloud backup uses storage in the cloud (provided by a Cloud storage provider) to store the data and is remotely accessible. An offsite backup is a copy of your local backup and is kept offline and offsite. When you have the need for the off-site back-up you have to pick up that storage device, mount it and/or do some configuration and then you are able to restore the data on it.

Disadvantages : the device (data) can be stolen, corrupted (no RAID usage for example), it takes time to use the storage because it’s offsite (you first have to collect the storage device)

Advantages are : data is offsite and any influences on that location (storm, theft, fire) is not appliacable. Data can’t be altered and is safe for malware and corruption.

Advantages of Cloud backups

  • Effeciency, usability and reliability
    Cloud backups are extremely reliable. Due to it being stored in a cloud environment, redundant config compensate for possible hardware corruption and facilitates improved data integrity
  • 24/7 monitoring
    Any decent Cloud storage provider has a 24×7 monitoring solution. So any flaws concering their (Cloud) service are noticed immediatly
  • Scalability & Accessibility
    You can easiliy up- and down scale (pay for usage) and the backup service can be accessed everywhere as long there is access to the internet.
  • Recovery time improvement
    You can increase your recovery time. Because everything is in place all the time. (You don’t have to load tapes etc) It’s as simple as a push on the button.
  • Disaster Recovery out of the box & accessibility.
    You don’t have to build a disaster recovery infrastructure. It’s right there for you to use. It’s important to keep a copy of your backup offsite. Even when all your local backups are in order, there could be a hurricane or flood which could prevent access to your servers. (Cloud backups are offsite too!)
  • Cost savings
    Business and organizations can often reduce operating cost by using cloud storage. But be aware, use of Cloud backup can be more expensive also.
    It’s important to use a solution that makes sense and won’t require to incur a capital expenditure.
  • Your Cloud partner or backup vendor takes care of things for you
    Most of the time it’s a simple one time configuration and afterwards you don’t have to pay any attention about configuring.
  • Protection against physical theft and natural disasters
    A tornado could hit your office, or you could be a victim of burglary of theft. Now you could still rest easy knowing that your personal data is safe offsite in the Cloud.

Disadvantages of Cloud backup

  • A full backup or recovery job can be too time-consuming
    Even if you’ve got a large bandwidth internet connection, it will almost certainly take some time to initially upload and backup your data.
    The same goes for restoring. Slow speeds are, without a doubt, the majority of people’s biggest gripe with online data backup.
  • Limitations of the amount of data that can be uploade to the cloud depending on bandwidth availability. You are completely reliant on your internet connection and on the connection of your Cloud provider. If your internet connection goes down, so does your ability to backup or restore data from the Cloud.
  • No direct control
    When you send your data up into the the Cloud you have less control over it than over the storage you have onsite.
  • Discontinuation of the service. Providers can stop their service
    This is one reason you can’t rely on Cloud storage only. You always need a local backup solution.  For legal reasons you (may) have to hold your backups for several years. What if your Cloud storage provider cancels their service? Then you have to rely on your local backups!
  • Bad or nonexistent service-level agreements
    If a solid agreements with the cloud storage provider is not in place, it could result in disappointment. Make sure your expectations and the provider’s capabilities are cleary spelled out in the contract.(SLA!!)
  • Datasecurity & encryption
    There are concerns with the safety and privacy of important data stored remotely.
    If a Cloud storage provider doesn’t follow adequate data security practices, your data will be exposed to greater risk than with off-site backups.  Any online backup provider worth mentioning will encrypt the data of its customers during both transmissiond and storage using high-level encryption algorothms such as AES or Blowfish, the same used by banks and government agencies. However some provider don’t use those technices and may expose as as security risk.

Conclusion

Backup to the Cloud is easily configured and often works like a charm. But don’t forget to investigate the different vendors and platforms (Amazon, Azure, Google etc) and check the support from your backup application (/solution). There are multiple vendors like for example Nakivo Backup & Replication. There are gigantic differences between costs, possibilities, liabilities and support.


File level restore on Azure

Making backups of virtual machines running on Azure using snapshot technology is a nice feature. But sometimes you don’t want to revert the whole snapshot but only want to restore a single file. Now this is possible. It uses the same backup/Snapshot technology you probably are already using.

Azure_file_level_restore_1

Open the virtual machine properties in the all resources tab. Choose the Back-up option.

Azure_file_level_restore_2

Go to the file level restore option. (more/upper right)

Azure_file_level_restore_3

Select the back-up set containing the file(s) you wish to restore. Then choose to download the script. Upload that script to your Virtual Machine. (winscp, copy/paste into nano/vi or any other way you choose to). It takes approx. 1 minute to generate and download the script.

Execute the script using bash <filename.sh>. First time the VM adds support for the iSCSI service which is required for mounting the back-upset. Choose Y for installation the iSCSI drivers and wait a few seconds. You see that entire back-upset is mounted. Now you can copy all the necessary files you need.

After you are ready, go to the Azure portal and choose to unmount the back-upset. Now you are all finished!


Altaro VM Backup v7 (What’s new)

Some time ago I wrote about the V7 beta version here. Altaro released their final edition of v7 recently.
Some of the key features of version 7:
  • Support for Windows 2016
  • Augmented Inline Deduplication
  • Boot from Back-up
  • New interface/GUI (in comparison to v6)

Support for Windows 2016

With v7 Altaro officially supports (with enhanced security and scalability) Windows Server 2016. You will now be able to use all of the features when upgrading to the latest version of Windows Server.

Augmented Inline Deduplication

Altaro’s unique Augmented Inline Deduplication increases performance of back-ups and restores for on- and offsite backups by transferring using inline deduplication instead of afterwards. This not only saves time, but it also reduces the amount of storage needed to store te backups. I can’t wait to test this feature.

Augmented

Boot from Backup

Boot from Backup is another innovation release in VM Backup V7. This enables administrators to boot from the backup location.

Any changes made to the VM are applied when the VM is rebooted. This feature ensures minimal downtime for end users and enables the administrator to fully recover the original VM without pressure from the organisation.

New interface

You might also have noticed the change in the Altaro logo color. Altaro took the opportunity to freshen up their look with their latest product release and also launched a new website that you can check out at www.altaro.com. The new GUI makes it easy to implement your backup strategy. It’s now possible to manage, configure backup/restore jobs accross multiple hosts all in the same GUI. (Altaro announced that future releases will expand those possibilities even further!) I upgraded my beta install to the final release and all went smooth. The existing configuration and jobs worked as they should after the upgrade. I did a restore test and that worked like a charm.

Currently I’m in the middle of testing the inline deduplication (I can already say I see amazing results) and the other features. I’m also working on a comparison with other vendors. Stay tuned for the results!


How to fight Ransomware using Backup Technology

With the amount of ransomware cases seeming to increase every day this is coming more and more a problem. Ransomware cost hundreds of millions in damages worldwide en is increasing rapidly.

Modern total data protection solutions take snapshot based incremental backups on frequently based.

if your business suffers a ransomware attack, this technology allows you to roll-back your data to a point-in-time before the corruption occurred. When it comes to ransomware, the benefit of this is two-fold. First, you don’t need to pay the ransom to get your data back.

Second, since you are restoring to a point-in-time before the ransomware infected your systems, you can be certain everything is clean and the malware cannot be triggered again.

Recent surveys illustrated how extensive ransomware threats have been and recent studies show that an adequate backup solution is the best remedy. Therefore you need an adequate disaster recovery plan. This blogpost is about recovery and not preventing ransomware. I will blog about that later.

A great backup solution is not the answer for preventing Ransomware but it is the best way to provide a fast recovery. This way downtime and data loss is minimized.

While it may seem basic, experts agree that a solid backup plan is still the best prescription for addressing the threat of ransomware.

But what exactly does implementing a backup plan really mean, and what does a well-executed plan look like?

Working backup

Make sure your backups are working. test them! A green check mark isn’t enough!

According to an recent study by Symantec, most large companies test their backup plans on average once a year.

Simple backups should be tested much more frequently — at least once a quarter and whenever there is a major hardware or software change to your backup system. It’s particularly important to run a test after upgrading or changing major components in your backup system (for example the firmware version) to make sure everything works properly with the rest of your system.

Testing should consist of more than just simple some file restores. For example, if you just restore a couple of files you can’t be sure that your directory trees and other features are working as they are supposed to.

When you test a restore, take a minute to study the directories to make sure everything that should be backed up is actually backed up. The test should include restoring entire folders, complete with subfolders, as well as one or more critical applications.

Don’t forget your application-aware backups like SQL/Exchange etc. Some things are very difficult to test in their natural environment, but therefore you could use an OTAP environment. You can take advantage of your hypervisor and your backup solution for that purpose.

Retention

Good data retention policies are necessary, you need to be able to restore data at least two weeks old, better a month Recent studies discovered that large companies are infected months before they notice they are infected! How long are you keeping your backups? 14 days? 7 weeks? 6 months? Review, validate and, if needed, modify the retention policy (as defined in your backup policy) to ensure a sufficient Recovery Point Objective (RPO).

This may vary depending on your particular industry and regulations, and internal IT policies — IT, Legal, and Compliance teams — will make the call on data retention needs.  Rest assured that no matter what length you choose, the more the better. Using Cloud storage like Azure or Amazon could help you keeping the costs acceptable.

Offsite backup

A necessary part of the DR plan is to create an offsite backup as part of your backup strategy. Backups are critical. But, if you’re just performing regular backups to a single location, you’re missing an important part of your backup strategy. You need your files stored in separate physical locations.

Copy Backups Offsite

By using Nakivo Backup & Replication you can keep the copies of your backups locally, having at least one copy of your most critical backups offsite. This can save you from a lot of trouble in case a local disaster wipes your primary backups.  The secondary Backup Repository can be placed in any location that has a connection to the Internet, because backup data can be transferred via AES 256 encrypted link, and your secondary backup repository can be encrypted as well:

nakivo_offsite

Copy Backups to the Cloud (for example Amazon or Azure)

By Using Nakivo Backup & Replication you can use create fast, reliable, and affordable copies of your backups in the Cloud. This way your backup files are safely stored.

nakivo_offsite_amazon

More information about Nakivo Integration with Azure Cloud here.

Conclusion

Testing your backup strategy on a regular base is essential to make sure your backup solution does what it’s supposed to do! Offsite backups are a necessary fail safe to make sure backups are safe and can be relied on.

If an organization has no offsite disaster recovery facility, then backups to cloud should be considered as a means to safely store data outside of the scope of potential malware infection. Retention policies also can be leveraged to make sure data is kept for the period that makes sense to the business and that allows for recovery point objectives to be met.

 


Review: vembu BDR Suite 3.6

Hereby my review of Vembu BDR version 3.6. Vembu BDR Suite is an all-in-one universal solution for backing up your VMware and Hyper-V environments as well as physical servers.  Vembu BDR Suite products cover backup & recovery of VMware vSphere, Microsoft Hyper-V, Physical Windows Servers Desktops/Laptops, File Servers, Applications like MS Exchange, Active Directory, SQL Server, SharePoint and Outlook etc.

In this review, I shall take a look at it’s basic features and functionality. Advanced functionally and more in depth reviews are going to appear in future blog posts.

A few of the features of Vembu BDR Suite 3.6 capabilities and functionality are as follows:

  • Support for VMware
    • Complete support for all the VMware versions (Supported from VMware 4.X version)
    • VMware Hot-Add and SAN transport mode for LAN free data transfer
    • VMware vSphere Replication for High Availability
    • CBT enabled incremental data transfer using VMware VADP (vStorage API for data protection)
  • Support for Hyper-V (support for VM in SMB)
    • Support for Hyper-V Cluster Shared Volumes
    • Vembu CBT driver for high performance incremental backups
    • Hot backup ensures zero VM downtime
    • VSS aware technology for application consistency
  • Support for Physical enviroments
    • Backs up entire disk image of Windows Server(s), including operation system and filesDuring system crash or any major disaster, bare-metal recovery helps to recover the Windows machines into the same or other hardware
    • Vembu ImageBackup helps you to migrate the Windows Servers and Workstation from your physical enviroment to VMware or Hyper-V environment.

Installation and configuration of Vembu BDR 3.6 for VMware

(Hyper-V and physical will be in another blog post)

Installation is pretty straightforward. Just hit enter 3 times and notice the advice & option to change the default admin/admin credentials and 32004 en 6061 ports etc. (Vembu uses MySQL en MonogDB).

installation configuration

Vembu installs a webserver. Make sure that you create a new firewall rule for port range 6060-6061 for TCP traffic:

firewall_vembu

After installation it’s time to add your (first) VMware server. This is done in a few clicks. Just make sure you use the appriopiate creds and correct port.

add vmware server 1

add vmware server 2

Not let’s add the first VM. Go to Backup/VMware and click at Backup Now (arrow in square box) . Go through the following steps:

Backup steps

After creating your backup your first backup is automatically made.

Monitor backup progress

You can monitor the backup progress, go to backup and List jobs. The green triangle indicates that the backup is in progress right now.

Interface

Ok, next step. Let’s go through the interface:

Dashboard is your quick info place, your overview and the place to start. Backup gives you the option to backup and configure backup jobs.
VM Replication gives you the option to replicate your VM’s. (I shall write about it in another blog post)

Recovery.., now that we have made one of more backup we want to test them!
One of the most interesting features is instant recovery/restore. If your server is down by for example ransom ware you need to be up and running as fast as possible.
Vembu uses their Virtual Drive. Their latest backup is easily mounted and you can access all of the files.

Vembu also offers the following options :

I’ve tested all of the above restore options and found that they worked fast and flawlessly.

Reports

Reporting options are clear and simple. Everything you need. Reports can easily be scheduled to be emailed to one or more email addresses.

Management

Here you can choose the server (user management, software update) and storage management options. (Add extra storage to the repository etc)


Vembu Universal Explorer


Vembu offers free tooling for their backup solution. One of them is Vembu universal explorer.
This single recovery tool allows administrators to recover different Microsoft application backups like Exchange, SQL, Sharepoint and Active Directory.

Universal Explorers offers:

  • instant restores emails/mailboxen/exchange stores from Microsoft Exchange
  • instant restore Microsoft SQL databases and tables
  • document level restore for Microsoft Sharepoint
  • granular recovery for Microsoft Active Directory

Conclusion

In this review, I found Vembu BDR 3.6 to be a full featured tool set for effectively backing up both VMware, Hyper-V environments and physical servers. The interface is extremely simple and easy to use with everything placed where you would expect it to be. Although Vembu offers more products, their backup solution offers everything you need against failures, ransomware or even complete site loss. Vembu vould be your answer for small companies and large companies seeking for a complete backup solution.

I found no issues with installing the product, backups and restores from either a VMware or Hyper-V environment, or performance with any of the operations that were performed. The GUI is nice and straightforward. A minor issue is the performance of the interface. Sometimes you have to wait a few seconds for it to respond. A drawback of using a webserver. The online portal for all your licenses and downloads is looking good also. It’s even possible to view the status of the VM’s being backup ed using BDRSuite also.

Check out the banner on vWorld.nl for the appropriate link.

Support

More information, check out the website here or email support @ vembu-support@vembu.com
I contacted support for a couple of questions and I received information pretty quick and found it to be helpful.


NFR key for Nakivo Backup & Replication

If you are a VMUG member, VMware vExpert, VCP, VSP, VTSP, or VCI you can receive a FREE two-socket Not For Resale (NFR) license of NAKIVO Backup & Replication for one year and use it in your home or work lab.

The NFR licenses are available for non-production use only, including educational, lab testing, evaluation, training, and demonstration purposes. This offer ends on December 30, 2016.

Click here for more information.


NFR key for Veeam Availability Suite 9.5

Veeam® is happy to provide a free NFR license (1 year, 2 sockets) to all VMware vExperts, MVPs, VTEC members, Certified Engineers and Trainers*. This license allows for non-production use of Veeam Availabilty Suite™ 9,5 in your home lab, without any feature limitations. The license works for both VMware and Hyper-V environments.

Veeam Availability Suite 9.5 is a combination of Veeam Backup & Replication™ and Veeam ONE™, and is your key to achieving Availability for the Always-On Enterprise™.

By using Veeam Availability Suite 9.5, you’ll get everything you need to reliably protect and manage your VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V environments:

  • High-Speed Recovery
  • Data Loss Avoidance
  • Verified Recoverability
  • Leveraged Data
  • Complete Visibility
Fill in the form here get your FREE NFR key NOW!
*Only for vExpert, VCP, VCAP, VCI, VCDX, VMUG Leader, VTEC, VMCE, MVP, MCSE, MCSA, MCT, Cisco Champion, PernixPro Member and others.

Review: Nakivo backup & Replication for VMware

Backup is more and more important. That’s why there are several company’s proving great products for this.
Nakivo has their Backup & Replication tool for VMware (and Amazon but that will not be covered right now) and in this blogpost you find my experiences.

Nakivo backup & Replication (NBR from now..) comes in different distribution formats:

  • VMware Virtual Appliance (OVF)
  • NAS Package (Western Digital and Synology)
  • Pre configured Amazon Machine Image
  • Linux version
  • and a Windows version

Installation

I’ve tried the Linux, Windows and the NAS version. All the versions offer the same functionality. I installed the OVF version in my VMware environment and found that the installation was very straightforward and was done in minutes. After logging on the first time just add your VMware server(s) or vCenter and off you go! Don’t forget to change the default password although!

The interface is very to the point. Just make a https connection to port 4443 and login with your credentials.

Ok let’s create a job :

Choose Create and select the VMware vSphere backup job.

Select the VM you wish to backup:

Select the repository you wish to save your backup file to. You can choose not to select all the virtual machine hard drives.

Schedule your job

You have the option to change some advanced options

Click Finish & Run and your first back-up is done!

Synology Package

I also installed the Synology Package on my NAS. Like as expected that was very ease. Just make sure all sources are trusted and install the package. After a few steps the package is installed and provides the same functionality as the (for example) Windows version. I tried the package on 2 different Synology models. A high end and entry level and it worked fine on both devices. I saw minor differences in performance.  I think installing a product like this on a NAS provides great functionality. Many of my customers use a Synology NAS for their backup only. Now there is no Windows or Linux VM and hypervisor on location necessary.

Support

I had some technical questions (concering transport role) so I went to the Nakivo homepage. After a short chat session I was helped by a technical support engineer which friendly helped me. It seems that their support is quite adequate. I shall continuing test this product and shall share my support experiences.

Send Nakivo Feedback, Get $20 Gift Card

Nakivo loves to know what you think about their product. Get $20 Amazon gift card for performing the following tasks:

  1. Install NAKIVO Backup & Replication and discover your infrastructure.
  2. Use the product, such as create and run at least one backup job.
  3. Send the support bundle to support@nakivo.com by December 30, 2016.
  4. Provide your feedback by filling out a short survey.

Read the Terms and Conditions

Pricing

Nakivo comes in 4 different versions : Pro Essentials ($199), Enterprise Essentials($299), Pro ($399) and Enterprise ($599). I think their pricing is very competitive. Check out more information about pricing here.

Wishlist and improvements

After testing Nakivo Backup & Replication (and some of the other vendors and their products) I think Nakivo is a very interesting product. Altough their is some room for improvement concerning the GUI (interface). (For example you are able to add 2 jobs with the same name/description and that can be confusing) I also would like to see the following :

  • Support for other NAS vendors (for example Qnap)
  • Support for Azure
  • Deploy Transport role/VM within the user interface
  • Update/upgrade within the GUI

Conclusion

I think Nakivo provides a very interesting product which lots of interesting functionality. I especially like the Synology NAS appliance because it makes the life of the system administrator easier. Also their pricing is very competitive. Their is room for improvement (as always) but the product seems very stabile. In my next review about nakivo I’m going to test the transport role, multi tenancy, self-service, Exchange log truncation, self service and their API interface. Lot’s to come! When you have experience with Nakivo also, please leave a reply.


Review: Altaro VM Backup

I’m using Altaro VM Backup for my Hyper-V whitebox environment for a couple of years now.
Recently I tested the latest version. Hereby my experiences.

Their latest version of VM Backup changed in comparison to previous versions.
I noticed several new features/improvements and a slightly improved UI.

altaro8

(Some of) Altaro VM Backup features:
– Built for virtual environments (both Hyper-V and VMware)
– Back up live VMs (Zero downtime by leveraging Microsoft VSS)
– Offsite Backup Replication
– File and Exchange item level restore
– Back up live VMs with no downtime
– Microsoft VSS Integration
– Support for Cluster Shared Volumes & vCenter
– Restore to different Hyper-V host or clones
– Central management console, management of multiple hosts
– Compression & Encryption
– Auto-upload Error Reports & Remote Support integration (Live Chat embedded)
– Offsite Backup Replication
– Altaro Offsite server (I shall update this post very soon with more information about this feature)

Altaro VM Backup 6.5 has been released adding the Change Block Tracking (CBT) feature for Hyper-V that gives the backups a speed boost of up to 33 times on incremental backups. Upgrading to the latest version is simple, go to the update download page in the user interface to download the update file. (Changed Block Tracking is conceptually similar to snapshot-technology. It determines if any blocks have changed since the last snapshot and tags the blocks that have been changed, to copy out only the blocks that have changed the last backup)

Altaro can be installed on a physical host or in a virtual machine. There is no Linux version (or OVF) available. (It would be nice to have that option although!) Configuring the program is very easy. In just a few steps you’re ready to go!

First configure the VMware or Hyper-V server (or vCenter), specify the IP settings and login creds and go to the following steps. Specify a back-up location, either a normal backup location (physical drive or network path) or a offsite location (either a physical drive, drive rotation or swap schema, network path of Altaro Offsite Server with WAN Acceleration). Configure the schedule, retention policy, the notifications and advanced settings (VSS, master encryption) You are all done configuring!

Now we are ready to back-up your virtual machines! Just 2 options, choose to take a backup or take a offsite copy.
Restoring the virtual machine is easy, you can use the default restore option or the granular option. With the granular restore you can specify specific files or folders to restore. It’s even possible to open an exchange edb file to restore specific exchange items (mail, calender items etc).

altaro6

 

A nice option is, that it’s very easy to test your backups using the sandbox feature. Using this feature you can test your backup&restore in just a few steps. It does a complete restore in a virtual (sandbox) environment. So nothing happens with your running VMs. Using this method you can test the complete backup/restore procedure.

When you need support, there are several options:

altaro7

You can use email and phone support, but a nice feature is the Live Chat support option. All the necessary information can easily be given to Altaro support so that they can help you. A very nice and unique feature!

If you are love security Altaro VM Backup give you the option to use an encryption key in your backups.
So in case of stolen your backups or any other scenario nobody can restore it if doesn’t has the encryption key.

Altaro built in al the reporting tools you need. In one overview you see your backup and restore results and actions.

Altaro comes with per-socket licensing and is as mentioned available in three editions:
– Unlimited Edition (all functionality for an unl. number of VMs and supports clusters, 585 dollar)
– Standard Edition (most functionality with protection of up to five VMs, 395 dollar)
– Free edition (protects up to two VMs)