Altaro VM Backup v8 Review


Introduction

Altaro VM Backup was founded in 2009 and was recognised as one of the first VM Backup products for Hyper-V. 9 years on, the product has made tremendous advances and is now used by over 40,000 customers world wide and is a globally recognised data backup product. The product supports both Hyper-V and VMware Hypervisors and has backup integrations for Microsoft Azure offsite backup repositories.

You can find out more about the general features by You can find out more about the features of Altaro VM Backup.

Why Altaro

As some may recall, over the years some backup and recovery technologies have obtained a bad reputation. Reasons being: difficult to manage, cost, consistently problematic with failure of backup jobs and to add more salt to the wound, everything goes smoothly until a recovery fails.

Altaro simplifies IT administrators backup & recovery experience by removing the traditional complexity and pain points. The user interface is easy to use, adding backup repositories is a simple drag and drop process, and running backup jobs has been designed so that you simply select the VM’s you would like to backup and click the red button “Take Backup” .  Altaro does not offer a tape backup option/feature however, this does encourage businesses to use more modern methodology’s like disk to disk data backup and replication. That being said, you can use RDX cartridges or portable Hard drives for transporting data or offsite short term data retention.

Price: 

Altaro still has one of the best pricing policies in the backup and recovery market space, offering a per host licence not the traditional per CPU licence. This simplifies the buying process making it easy for SMB customers who may not be IT Professionals or have a limited understanding. The overall cost is of note and could possibly be one of the most affordable backup and recovery products on the market. You can find out more about pricing for Altaro here.

  • Standard – per host, but limited to 5 VMs
  • Unlimited – per host no limit on number of VM’s (Exchange item restore, Deduplication, and Boot from backup.
  • Unlimited Plus – access to Cloud Management Console, Backup to Azure, Continuous Data Protection (CDP), and WAN-optimised replication.

Altaro VM Backup 7.6 improvements

Continuous Data Protection (CDP)

A common challenge with data recovery is the loss of data due to the distance in time between backup jobs. Traditionally, you could only restore back to the night or morning before, as backups were typically run in the evening due to the overall time taken to complete. CDP enables you to backup as frequently as 5 minutes, minimising the recovery point objective (RPO) thus reducing the loss of data from hours to minutes. 

CDP Backup Diagram

Limitations and Considerations of CDP:

  • The Maximum frequency depends on resource capacity and throughput. 
  • Large amounts of change on a virtual machine could cause the CDP frequency to be reduced.
  • enabling multiple VM’s on high frequency CDP could result in Hypervisor performance degradation.
  • Storage should be considered when completing more frequent backups (CDP).

Grandfather-Father-Son (GFS) Archiving

GFS now enables you to archive backup versions rather than deleting backups that pass a retention window.

With GFS Archiving enabled, Altaro VM Backup will keep:

  • 1 Backup per week for 12 weeks
  • 1 Backup per month for 12 months
  • 1 Backup per year for 2 years

Point to note, you can still use retention policies, this feature has not been removed. Essentially, you are able to configure three separate backup cycles to store three new backup versions every week, every month and every year. This enables you to retain Weekly, Monthly and Yearly backup versions outside of the retention policy.

In previous versions, you were only able to delete old backups not “Archive Old Backups”

Change Block Tracking

The use of Change Block tracking reduces backup time by scanning the VM for any changes. This decreases the backup duration from hours to minutes. There have been improvements made in version 7.6 > resolving the challenge relating to rebooting hypervisors.

  • CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 leverages Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) on the hosts. VSS has been part of all versions of Microsoft Windows for over a decade, and is extremely reliable in maintaining a point-in-time snapshot of a specific volume.
  • CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 no longer requires the installation of a kernel-mode filesystem driver to track changes.
  • The previous method of using filesystem drivers in VM Backup 7.5 and earlier may affect I/O performance on some systems, and this will now be completely avoided with CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2.
  • With CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2, change tracking keeps working reliably across host reboots, system upgrades etc.
  • CBT v2 for Windows Server 2012 and 2012 R2 also fully supports VMs migrating across cluster nodes and there is no longer need to perform a full scan when a VM migrates or changes state etc.

Concurrent Backup and Restore Operations

Parallel backup and restore operations have been added preventing queuing Jobs like an offsite backup copy. You can now take offsite copies and restore backups without the delay of any scheduled backup or CDP operations.

Backup Concurrent Backup and Restore Operations

Altaro VM Backup 8 improvements

Altaro announced Altaro VM Backup V8 on the 13th of November 2018. 

WAN-Optimized Replication

V8 introduces WAN-Optimised Replication enabling users to replicate VM’s (on going copy) to a remote site. This allows It admins to failover mission critical systems to a remote site. This new feature enables businesses to be back up and running within minimal time if a disaster strikes or major incident occurs. 

Limitations and Considerations:

  • You need to have the same version Hypervisor at both the local and remote site. 
  • Maximum Replication frequency is 5 minutes.
  • You can only use local disks for replication, network shares are not currently supported.
  • 2008R2 hyper-v hosts are not supported.
  • If the last successful replication version is not equal to the last successful backup version, then recovery is required. 

WAN Optimised Replication is currently only available with Hyper-V (VMware support coming soon)

Replication Demo

Altaro’s V8 Announcement

Altaro Office 365 Backup

There is a common misconception that Office 365 data is fully backed up as apart of a 365 subscription. Microsoft are responsible for providing users with the 365 productivity platform and functionality. The responsibility of the data is the responsibility of the user.

Altaro’s Office 365 backup for MSPs subscription enables Managed Service Providers to backup and restore office 365 user mailboxes. This is a monthly subscription service and you pay for what you use and there are no upfront fees. This is all managed from Altaro’s multi tenant cloud central management (CMS) console.

Key Features: 

  • 365 Emails are backed up to Microsoft Azure
  • Granular restore for mailboxes and the ability to restore back into the same mailbox.
  • browsable mailbox backups
  • Secure storage under Microsoft Azure’s Platform 
  • Storage included as apart of the cost and managed by Altaro.
  • pay per mailbox per month.
365 Mailbox Backup/Recovery Console
Altaro 365 Backup announcement

Summary

Altaro VM Backup has clearly listened to the industry’s backup and recovery pain points and challenges. They have created a product that is simple to use, effective and used by many. The product is feature rich and offers three simple tiers for pricing (Standard, Unlimited and Unlimited Plus). I have found some product limitations, however this does not impede the products ability to backup the majority of SMB businesses Hyper-V/VMware infrastructures. Altaro are clearly investing heavily into development and I do look forward to seeing features like cloud replication in 2019. Any questions, please use the comments box below….

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