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Rollout: We Put Microsoft Data Protection Manager To The Test

DPM 2007 is a credible entry, as long as you're backing up only Microsoft applications.

BRANCH OUT

One area where DPM really excels is in its ability to back up remote and branch office servers over a WAN. By deploying a central DPM server in your main data center, administrators can record block-level changes on branch servers and perform full restores quickly in case of failure.

Creating the recovery media required for bare-metal restores does take some work, but once it's done, you can recover from a failed OS quickly and remotely. Speaking of work, DPM installation was automated but still cumbersome. One reason is the list of prerequisites: Make sure you have at least Windows 2003 Server SP2, all critical updates, the Volume Shadow Copy Service update package, and Windows PowerShell 1.0 installed. Once you're done, DPM will add a second set of prerequisites, namely Windows Deployment Services, .Net 2.0, IIS 6 or 7, and SQL Server 2005.

chart: Feature by feature: Microsoft Vs. Symantec

If you kick off setup at noon, be prepared for a long lunch break because installation can take almost two hours, depending on your hardware. That said, Microsoft did a good job automating much of this heavy lifting.

DPM does have one quirk you should be aware of. Because it relies solely on the Volume Shadow Copy Service for backups, protected volumes must be NTFS with a partition size of at least 1 GB. While most administrators have eliminated FAT and FAT32 volumes by now, this limitation may affect some legacy Microsoft file systems.

The list price for DPM 2007 is $573 for the core engine software, and $426 per enterprise client that will be backed up from the DPM Server. That compares very favorably with Backup Exec. Symantec will hit you for $929 for Backup Exec 11d, plus $1,163 for each agent required to back up Exchange, SQL, and SharePoint.

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