NovaNet Backup v7

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail

Published by: NovaStor(R) Corporation, go to the web site
Requires: Microsoft NT Server or higher or Novell Server running NetWare, Pentium CPU, 16MB RAM, minimum 20MB free disk space
MSRP: Windows NT - US$999 (full), US$299 (single server, no clients); Pricing for the NetWare version is almost identical

(Ed. Note: reviewed in 1999)

NovaNet Backup version 7 is the latest among NovaStor's network server and client backup software solution offerings. The family of products starts with a low cost single Windows NT(R) or Novell NetWare server license, and is scalable up to the flagship NovaNet 7 Alliance - a comprehensive backup solution for an unlimited number of servers and workstations in an integrated Windows NT network or Novell Server (running NetWare) environment.

NovaNet 7 works with your existing network. It offers full network views and job management, backup/restore of Windows 95/98 and NT registry, multilevel object based security, automatic tape drive configuration, plug-in support for Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL, Open File Manager, Btrieve database agent, reads ARCserve 4.x & 6.x tapes, supports multiple Windows NT servers, an unlimited number of users/clients, the ability to backup to any tape drive on the network, distributed architecture which provides extremely fast backup speeds, and library support.

We installed NovaNet 7 in a Windows NT 4.0 (SP3) server environment (running connected Win95 and 98 clients). We tried two different servers: a single CPU Pentium II 266MHz, and a dual-CPU Pentium II 400MHz, each running 256MB RAM and Adaptec 2940UW SCSI cards. Installation was flawless on both machines and it should be noted that the autorun InstallShield can be re-run at anytime to add options, remove options or re-install/un-install NovaNet 7. The InstallShield routine contains a small GUI which permits point and click selections - very useful and extremely easy to understand. There are only a few preliminary setup issues to deal with: the name of the storage management zone you have to create, selecting the machine which will act as the storage management server, and which workstations or file servers will belong to the zone.

Every network manager, IS/IT manager, and general operations manager faces the same dilemma: how often should backups be done, how can backup drive/device costs be justified, how can media costs for multiple generations of backups be justified, how can the cost of off-site backup storage be justified, and if the worst happens, how well will the backups work? It's definitely a problem. But if the boys at Data Recovery Inc., are anything to go by, the costly losses incurred through non-backed up hard drives which have 'packed it in' far outweigh the cost of setting up a proper backup infrastructure. According to the latest reports in IS/IT journals, hard drive recovery costs and lost data costs resulting from a lack of backups is costing upwards of $10 billion a year. It makes sense too, when you figure in the expensive process of recreating lost data, downtime, fouled up schedules and so on.

The rules are simple. Every piece of data you backup today, is a piece of data you'll have available tomorrow. Every piece of data you backup today and then store off-site, is a piece of data you'll have tomorrow, a week from tomorrow and a year from tomorrow - guaranteed. At anywhere from US$500-$1500 for extremely robust turnkey systems (NovaNet 7, a tape drive, SCSI card and backup media), why take chances?

Running fast, server hard drives in an Ultra-Wide SCSI environment, is a very fast way of accessing data. Doing tape backups from such servers across a 100Mb network is also relatively fast - but you've got to have the right software. At the moment, NovaNet 7 appears to be one of the front-runners.

3 gigabytes in 30 minutes, uncompressed? 30,000 files? With Verification turned on? Comparable restore speed? Not bad. 10 gigabytes in 100 minutes, uncompressed? 110,000 files? With Verification turned on? Comparable restore speed? Not bad again.

Over the course of two weeks of testing we used the comprehensive scheduling features to setup ridiculously complex and well as simple backup sessions. Background backup operation was seamless. There are a variety of pre-defined schedules included with NovaNet 7 which served as excellent templates for our testing. NovaNet 7 also features extremely thorough and reliable security options. User Permissions can be assigned through one of the tabbed dialog sheets. Administrators can assign permissions for access to folders, volumes, storage devices, media and jobs.

Two features stood out for us because of some prevailing conditions on the test network: job status information displays, and distributed network device connections. The job status data includes everything from throughput rates to the number of errors and failed files. Distributed network device connections control allows for concurrent backup, restore, and verify jobs from almost any server or workstation.

Windows NT and Novell NetWare networks will benefit from NovaNet 7. The software offers safety and security at a very reasonable price. Add to that its versatility and speed, and you've got yourself an ideal network backup solution which can grow with your business. NovaNet 7 is highly recommended.

Cons: Some third party networking products that replace the standard Wsock32.dll may cause conflicts with NovaNet. Under Windows 95 using Microsoft NWLink IPX protocol driver, communication errors can be caused by an excessive number of dropped packets going in to the workstation. If you are using the Windows 95 machine as a device server, NovaStor recommends using either the Novell Client 32 or TCP/IP for your communications protocol. The problem does not occur under Windows NT. There is a little bit of cryptic language used in the interface terminology. NovaStor and plenty of other companies have got to hand over the job of interface terminology to good writers, and take the responsibility away from engineers and programmers.

Pros: We were eager to test NovaNet 7 with the new Tecmar Travan NS20 tape drive, but it did not arrive in time for this review. We'll bring the results to you in the drive review. With excellent documentation, plug-in support for Microsoft Exchange, SQL server, and open file backup, NovaNet Backup 7 is a comprehensive backup solution for small, medium and large enterprises. The Backup Wizard is a terrific tool for relatively 'green' IS managers or small business technical staff doubling as IS managers. The main software interface with its tabbed dialogs sheets is uncluttered and very easy to use. With a starting price of US$299 (single server, no clients), NovaNet 7 is one of the best deals in robust, professional backup software today.

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