Freeware offers backup solutions across a network

A new open source program called Bacula allows administrators to manage backup and recovery, and also verify computer data across a network of computers.

There are many free software packages that I try to keep tabs on as possible replacements or substitutes for commercial

programs. After sifting through a bunch of free and open source backup/restore applications, I found one worth mentioning: Bacula.

Bacula is broken into five components: an administrative console, a file server (installed on the actual machine where the backup process takes place), a storage server, a director and a database. Note that components do not all need to be on separate machines; they can all run on the same system if need be. The database component can be bundled with the distribution of Bacula and can have one of three commonly-used free database solutions: MySQL, PostgreSQL or SQLite.

Bacula's features the following attributes:

    It uses standard TCP ports for all its activities so it does not require RPC to be available;
  • It records all of its activity in the SQL database for easy review;
  • It handles multi-volume backups; and
  • It includes a Linux-based rescue CD that can be configured by the user and used to perform system recoveries.

One drawback: Bacula does not yet natively support backing up and restoring a Windows environment, i.e., a bare metal recovery. That being said, it is possible to achieve the same effect indirectly through techniques documented in the program's manual. One method is to back up the system state from the command line and then run a Bacula batch job (which would also copy out the system state backup file). Another method involves using the Bacula rescue CD to back up and restore raw partitions. A third option is a plug-in for Bacula that runs with the BartPE Rescue CD, a useful tool I've written about previously.

P.S. If you're wondering about the product's wonderful name, it is indeed a play on the name Dracula. There's a slugline on the software's homepage: "It comes by night and sucks the vital essence from your computers."

About the Author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators.

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This was first published in April 2006

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