Microlite BackupEDGE 7 $300
In a Nutshell
- Extended SCSI support provides network device backups
- Master backups can be restarted
- Creates crash recovery diskettes
- Backup format is proprietary
- No support for standard software compression (gzip), only internal software and hardware compression
|Curses: Microlite provides old-school backup.|
- 386 MHz or better
- 2.x kernel
- SCO Unix
Backups are a pain. They’re one of those odious and time-consuming necessities of responsibly managing a computer system. If you do not do backups with some regularity, there will be nothing but old data around when a drive goes bad, and then you’ll be screwed.
That’s where BackupEDGE from Microlite Corp. comes into the picture. Microlite’s serious, long-term experience on Unix platforms is obvious from the start; the “programs” that report on a backup’s overall success or failure are shell scripts, making it easy to integrate custom reporting and site-specific error code handlers.
According to its documentation, backups done by BackupEDGE combine, “…many of the best features of tar, cpio, and sysadmin…” Unfortunately, that statement leads to our biggest complaint with BackupEDGE; while it may combine the best features of those products, its actual backup data is compatible with none of them. This makes BackupEDGE useful only if you plan to do all of your archiving and restoring using BackupEDGE. A better, platform-independent solution would include a compatibility mode, where tar or cpio could restore backups.
Backups performed by BackupEDGE do support both software and hardware compression (assuming that your backup device supports these as well), and both can be switched off if desired. A good solution for platform-independent software compression is to pipe the backup output into gzip-9. Perhaps this will be implemented in a future release.
In the interest of being truly platform independent, it would be nice if BackupEDGE allowed for backups to any target filesystems, even across a network. This would allow backups performed with BackupEDGE on one system to be restored on another. Unfortunately, this is not possible at this time. Currently, the only way to accomplish this is to move all of your backup devices to the target system, install BackupEDGE in demo mode there, and use this combination to restore your files.
The program’s user interface is primarily a curses-based GUI. However, some functionality (like the index-based “fast file restore”) is also available in an X Window system version. We’d prefer to see the whole thing ported to the X Window system. Curses-based interfaces are definitely lean and mean, but they look sort of kludgy nowadays. We also had some problems getting BackupEDGE’s installer to work correctly from within an xterm window. Arrow keys did not work deterministically in the installer (a serious problem for selecting options!) unless run from a command line outside of the X Window system.
In short, BackupEDGE is a fine backup and restore utility if you intend to do all of your backups and restores only on the same hardware. It supports standard Master and Incremental backups, and BackupEDGE mails a nice summary of its backup operations to a user-specified e-mail address. The program has an excellent track record on both Unix and Linux. However, if hardware and software compression isn’t mandatory or available in your computing environment, then you might find that the standard Unix tar-gzip-dump-restore utilities contain most of the same functionality that you will find in BackupEDGE.