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Microsoft DPM 2010 vs. Symantec Backup Exec 2010

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, 13th September 2010 at 03:32 PM (42540 Views)

Most IT people will tell you that backing up data is probably the most important part of their job. I've lived through a few disasters in my career and so far, touch wood, i've made it through without loosing any large chunks of data. I've always used backupexec in all my jobs but recently heard about Microsoft Data protection manager 2010. We heavily use Microsoft software in school so I it made sense to to test it out. I was also coming to the end of backup exec 10d lifetime and needed to upgrade it to support the latest Sharepoint, exchange and SQL servers so a decision had to be made.

DPM - Its really cheap, I don't have exact costs but the educational pricing is virtually free.
BE - Cheap enough for the basic install but costs £300 per agent so the costs can quickly add up. Your probably looking at around £2,000 for a complete license.

Winner - Data Protection Manager 2010, its amazingly cheap.

Pre-requisites before install
DPM - What a nightmare, I think I installed about 5 separate hot fixes on my 2008 R2 server just to get the to get the actual software running. Not a good start!
BE - Backupexec required a SQL server to be installed but this was included on the disk and express edition is fine. I actually installed the latest 2008 express R2 with no problems at all.

Winner - Backupexec for ease of install.

Agent install
DPM - I can only describe this part of DPM as a total failure. Again I had to install loads of hotfixes on servers (even the 2008 ones) just to get it to accept the install. This means reboots added to the danger of installing updates that mess with the file system I didn't like this at all. In fact one of our servers blue screened after I installed a hotfix. I was also getting generic agent is not working error messages like this:

BE - Installing agents was very quick and painless process for new servers. Worked as advertised with no need to install any hotfixes. The big problem is that the agents can't be upgraded from backupexec 10d, you need to uninstall the agents first. Now backupexec 10d has a problem with some agents not showing in add/remove programs. This meant I had to manually remove the agent following this article. Next problem is that the original media for backupexec was not the latest service pack so I had to map a drive from the old server and uninstall using the latest agent installer. It worked in the end but took several hours to diagnose.

Winner - Backupexec wins in this category, but should make it easier to upgrade from previous versions.

User Interface
DPM - The interface is simple enough to use. It has only a few tabs at the top for protection groups, logs, media ect. I found it pretty easy to use but as with most microsoft products the help files are pretty useless and I couldn't find a nice quickstart guide. I did finally find some videos on youtube about usage.

BE - I'm used to the old 10d interface and the new 2010 version is a nice improvement without changing things too much. I certainly like the front screen that takes you through some wizards to get everything setup nicely.

Winner - Backupexec 2010 due to its nicer initial screen and better documentation. DPM is not far behind though.

DPM - First thing to mention is DPM does not use a normal NTFS drive to store the data. This means you cannot see the files it backs up to with windows explorer. It took me a while to figure out why the drives were showing 0%, it was simply because I had formatted them as a partition in disk manager.

BE - Backupexec stores its data in BKF files on the hard disk or tapes. This format is easy to store in small or large chunks and you can browse it from windows or copy it anywhere you want. There are also lots of 3rd party BKF extractors that can be used if you really get in a mess. This has saved my job once in the past so is a very welcome feature.

Winner - Backupexec because it has a file structure that is recognizable by windows.

Backing up systems
DPM - Backing up Hyper-v 2008 R2 went well, as did files on the server. I failed to backup exchange 2003 successfully and sharepoint 2003 didn't even show up in the options to select. It did work fine on sharepoint 2010 though.

BE - Backed up everything I've thrown at it so far including SQL 2008, 2005, Sharepoint 03,2010, files, exchange 2003.

Winner - BE by a clear margin. Very surprising considering Microsoft make their own software.

Backup exec 2010 is the clear winner from me. I gave Data protection manager 2010 a chance but it simply took too much effort to install the agents and I hated the way I couldn't see the backup files in windows. Microsoft really needs to do better with their enterprise backup solutions especially supporting older generations of software, DPM certainly has potential but its not there yet.

Updated 13th September 2010 at 03:51 PM by zag



  1. Alis_Klar's Avatar
    Nice review. I have been struggling to install DPM 2010 too. The first hurdle was I had no Servers with 2008 R2 on. Installed that on a test box fine.

    Next problem our domain was still at the windows 2000 functional level (DPM 2010 requires 2003 func level at least)
    Still didn't work i think because it had a partially uninstalled instance of sql. I'm going to rebuild my 2008 R2 server when i get time.

    The reason I looked into DPM was because it was so cheap and makes use of the previous version client so users can restore files themselves. Also it does de-duplication and i've always hated the Veritas interface.
  2. Arthur's Avatar
    DPM uses Microsoft's Shadow Copy technology (like System Restore does in Windows) so this is probably why you can't see the files. It also stores only the bytes that have changed, so even if you could see the files they wouldn't be of much of use to you. How does BackupExec deal with the de-duplication of data if it stores everything in a BKF?
  3. diggory's Avatar
    Does DPM handle tape changers ok (yeah old school I know...)
    DPM 2007 made real hashups with our's and we can only use it for disk-disk.

    Have to use bacula for tape.
  4. techie08's Avatar
    I was looking into DPM 2010 instead of upgrading to Backup exec 2010. Might not bother now though. Does backup exec 2010 have CPS on it?
  5. ZeroHour's Avatar
    DPM 2010 does not require 2008 R2 I thought?

    I have DPM 2010 and I have to say some points are accurate (the pre-reqs are a pain) but after getting it setup I think its brilliant and we came from BE previously. To buy proper lics for BE we were looking at over £4K just for the essentials, DPM is about £80 per year and £20 per hardware agent (and anything on that hardware be it hyper-v etc) if I recall.

    Seeing the files I dont find an issue at all tbh, DPM stores the backups in partitions and snapshots only changes to save large amounts of space. I believe you can get access if needed but its not advised or needed really.


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