Best known for its single-PC and small-workgroup backup products, Dantz aims higher with Dantz Retrospect 6.5 for Windows Small Business Server. This edition of its well-known backup software includes useful features for storing and backing up business data and Web sites. Retrospect is also the fastest-loading application we tested, and it proved extremely easy to use. But while Retrospect 6.5 Small Business Server is a good entry-level server-backup application, larger operations with more sophisticated needs may find its configuration options limiting. Experienced system administrators should consider instead either or . Dantz Retrospect 6.5 for Windows Small Business Server has the feel of a solo, client-based PC application that's been adapted on the back end for the multiple-system world of server-based backup. Like many single-user products, it asked during installation on our test server whether to load the recommended installation or a custom configuration instead. Dantz Retrospect 6.5 was by far the fastest-loading application we tested and the only one that didn't require a reboot.
When you run Retrospect for the first time, it asks you for the product's serial number and offers to register the product. Afterwards, it takes you into your first backup job.
With an Explorer-like interface, Dantz Retrospect makes it easy to choose what you'd like to back up, whether it's a shared network folder on a client's computer or local drives on the server hosting Retrospect. It's just as simple to identify where to store your backup. The software configuration includes the ability to set passwords and schedule regular backups.
Retrospect 6.5's interface is minimal, with a set of expandable menus down the left-hand side of the screen, including tabs for Backup, Restore, Automate, and Reports. Dialog boxes walk you through every backup process--an approach that's comforting at first but will grow cumbersome once you get your sea legs. Dantz Retrospect 6.5 for Windows Small Business Server includes some sophisticated features but only entry-level accessibility. A network-based backup system can back up just the network server or the server and its clients, and all files or just a select few. It can also store the backup on a variety of storage media. Dantz Retrospect 6.5 can do all that, but it will leave more-sophisticated users wanting more. For example, most businesses keep seven tapes of backup volumes and overwrite Monday's tape each week. A wizardlike applet called EasyScript guides you through the process of configuring your daily rotations. The trade-off for this convenience is that Retrospect offers basic configuration options with limited granularity.
Surprisingly, the program generously includes a server disaster-recovery feature, but you'll have to shell out extra for client-recovery tools. You might expect all backup software to include disaster recovery, given that most buyers purchase backup software to protect against catastrophes. But many other server-backup packages, including Veritas Backup Exec and BrightStor Arcserve, do not.
Like most Retrospect 6.5 tools, Dantz Retrospect Disaster Recovery is easy to use should you need to restore everything on your server. From the recovery disc, pick which set of files you'd like to recover, then insert your Windows Server CD and product key. The program isn't able to confirm whether you typed in the key correctly, so it asks you to double-check a dialog box. This doesn't engender the warm, fuzzy feeling you seek from a disaster-recovery process.
In addition to its disaster-recovery feature, Dantz Retrospect 6.5 is unusual in that it includes features for SQL Server and Microsoft Exchange Server, critical if your business uses or collaborates with other systems running these Microsoft programs. Most other server-backup apps charge for SQL Server and Exchange Server features.
Although they aren't as extensive as the competition's, Retrospect supports plenty of backup-hardware options, including tape drives, hard drives, optical drives, and even Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices. An optional add-on called Advanced Tape enhances performance by enabling multiple tape backups to run concurrently. Depending on the type of hardware and software you have, there are some optional features worth purchasing to fill out the Dantz package, including Proactive Backup and Open File Backup. Dantz's free telephone technical support is limited to two incidents within 30 days of the date you purchase the package. After that, you'll have to pay on a per-incident basis ($69.95) or purchase an annual support contract (currently between $749 and $929). Live support is available Monday through Thursday, 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT and Friday, 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. PT, excluding holidays.
Retrospect 6.5 for Windows Small Business Server's built-in help files are sparse compared to the competition's, although they do an adequate job of explaining the basics. Unfortunately, the online help is not much better, geared more to Dantz's better-known desktop products than to the newer server-based versions of Retrospect.