Seagate Releases Upgrade of Backup Exec

In the fragmented market for backup and recovery software, Seagate Software (Scotts Valley, Calif., is honing its position as the vendor for companies running primarily Microsoft Corp. operating systems. With its first upgrade of Seagate Backup Exec for Windows NT in a year, the company has reached new levels of granularity in its backup functions and added more features specific to Windows.

"It seems to be pretty robust, and they’ve kept their focus on NT and Windows 98," says Stephen Elliot, an analyst with Cahners In-Stat (Newton, Mass.). "If you’re a total Microsoft shop, there’s a really good sense that you’ll feel really comfortable with it."

New features of version 7.2 include working set backup, which permits an administrator to store only those files in heaviest use; virus protection; and, in combination with two complementary Seagate products, the ability to back up and restore individual tables in Microsoft SQL Server and individual mailboxes and folders in Microsoft Exchange Server. The company began shipping the product in September.

Through the working set backup function, users can choose to frequently protect files and applications used on a daily basis, thus ensuring fast restoration of the most necessary items. Moreover, Backup Exec allows the administrator to back up files from client machines as well as servers. Mike Ivanov, product line manager for Seagate Software, says the feature offers a solution to a common problem in the enterprise. "Data gets stored locally; no one is backing it up. IT departments have said, ‘Put it on the server if you want it backed up,’" Ivanov says.

One beta tester says the combination of features allowing backup of the working set of files and client machines is effective and easy to use. Backup Exec allows "independent file backups to where you can actually dictate whether they be archival -- in other words, rarely used -- vs. heavily used," says Dr. Mark Lurie, CEO of Lurie, Debevetz & Associates Inc. (Tulsa, Okla.,, an integration firm that builds client/server systems for vertical market customers such as accountants, doctors and lawyers. Lurie calls Backup Exec simple to use. "The click-and-set procedure throughout the entire unit is menu-driven. It does not take a rocket scientist to use it, and you can customize it to do about anything."

In-Stat’s Elliot’s compliment about Windows NT shops being comfortable with the product has a back hand to it: Unix incompatibility. While the product backs up workstations in nine flavors of Unix, it does not back up Unix servers. Says Elliot: "[Backup Exec] is just a small piece of what … IT departments are looking for."

There’s no questioning Seagate’s familiarity with Microsoft. The company acquired Arcada Holdings Inc. in February 1996. Arcada had handled the backup applet for individual machines within Windows products since 1991, and Seagate has continued in that role. "This basically is a full-featured version of what’s provided in the OS," says Seagate’s Ivanov.

Analyst Philip Mendoza of International Data Corp. (Framingham, Mass.) credits the Microsoft relationship for Seagate’s ability to back up and restore individual database tables and e-mail attachments, cc addresses, bcc addresses, and so on. "A large number of [Seagate’s] customers are going to be using Exchange and SQL Server," Mendoza says in praising Seagate for reaching the level of granularity that allows the restoration of such minute detail. "That has not been possible before with [Seagate’s] backup applications." The capability is offered in Seagate’s Backup Exec Agent for Microsoft Exchange Server and Backup Exec Agent for Microsoft SQL Server.

Seagate had added virus protection to the backup process as well. Through a collaboration with the computer security firm Network Associates Inc. (Santa Clara, Calif.,, Backup Exec scans files prior to backing them up and eliminates any virus it finds. A built-in prompt will remind administrators to update virus signatures each month at the Seagate Web site, Ivanov says.

Seagate also plans support in the new version for three new languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Italian and simplified Chinese. The addition of the three languages, expected by mid-November, will bring the number of supported languages to eight.