Few companies have dedicated backup administrators anymore. Today’s IS managers regard backups as little more than a bullet point in a long list of daily responsibilities. They seek a “set it and forget it” solution that doesn’t require a lot of manipulation or attention to administer. At the end of the day, they just need it to work.
In its first major update since Backup Exec 2010, Symantec has gone to great lengths to ease the task of backup and recovery. Backup Exec 2012 Small Business Edition  offers a new streamlined interface while building on the reliability and flexibility the Backup Exec brand is known for.
With the redesign of Backup Exec’s administrative console, operators can quickly see the status of their data protection and modify existing jobs from a single view. Installation is straightforward and took less than 10 minutes in my test environment. Users of Backup Exec 2010 will be pleased to discover that the 2012 version is backward-compatible.
Administrators can use the software to perform both file- and server-level backups, gaining granular control over what gets backed up and restored, from an individual email to an entire operating environment. They can choose to restore systems to physical hardware or a virtual platform because Backup Exec’s “Convert to Virtual” option enables the creation of a bootable virtual server.
Backup Exec 2012’s new “Add Stage” feature allows administrators to designate an additional location to which backup data can be written, creating further redundancy. Should something go wrong with the primary backup, the secondary backup is there — no need to skip back to an earlier version. It’s such a simple thing, but it adds a layer of protection that undoubtedly will help administrators sleep a little better at night.
Many of the default settings in Backup Exec’s new interface are intuitive and appropriate for common needs and tasks. Best-practice defaults are already available for every type of backup. The streamlined design requires less tweaking, freeing up IT managers’ time for other duties.
Backup Exec’s versatile reporting tool can generate reports either by choosing from an array of pre-configured formats or by selecting user-defined criteria. This allows administrators to quickly understand the status of their protection and readily provide documentation for compliance requirements.
Because Backup Exec integrates with VMware and Hyper-V systems, operators can protect both physical and virtual hosts and guest machines from within a single solution. The ability to restore a failed physical server to a new virtual machine also provides quick disaster recovery to put mission-critical systems back online should hardware need to be replaced.
The new user interface simplifies the information administrators see when the console is launched. The mechanics of the interface, however, require some time to get used to and may require a lot of clicking to navigate. Symantec has adopted the ribbon-style menu, which also can be a bit awkward until administrators familiarize themselves with it.