BackupAssist 6.4 is here! Super fast image backups, custom boot media and more…

BackupAssist 6.4 headerFurther to my recent post about the Beta, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve put the finished version live on our site – so now seems as good a time as any to let you know what’s in it…

Key to the appeal of version 6.4 are two main features – the all new RecoverAssist console and the dedicated support for iSCSI destinations. Together they open up some really interesting possibilities. We’ve been putting version 6.4 through its paces as you may have picked up from some of Neil’s recent blog posts, and as a result we’re all really pleased seeing the direction developer Cortex are headed.

RecoverAssist – what is it?

Aimed specifically at users performing image backups, RecoverAssist is billed as a custom, bootable recovery environment, that replaces the need for a Windows O/S rescue disk. Tidily integrated into BackupAssist, it’s key selling point is that it’s more effective at performing restores to dissimilar hardware than the standard Windows RE, thanks to the additional tools it provides to users.

Not only will RecoverAssist automatically tune Windows to the most appropriate settings, but also included is a wizard-based boot media creation tool. With your own  custom built boot media you’re now able to restore a machine from bare metal using image backups from a range of locations including iSCSI targets, network shares, removable drives and VHD files. In addition, you can also now choose to bundle one or more sets of device drivers, all helping to ensure a smooth recovery should the need arise.

iSCSI support

Another interesting new area in BackupAssist 6.4 is the fact it’ll offer support for iSCSI as a dedicated backup destination, which, If you’re performing image backups of Windows 2008 machines, I recommend you at least consider.

Back up in minutes not hours!

By choosing to use iSCSI for image backups you stand to slash the time it would normally take to perform your backup jobs. The reason being, that instead of copying entire image files each day as you would have needed to previously, BackupAssist is able to perform block level differential update. One initial full backup is still necessary of course but the daily (or more frequent) updates in our tests are now taking minutes where you would usually have expected it to take hours to achieve the same thing.

Centralised image stores

For environments where you’re working with multiple servers, using iSCSI opens up possibilities such as keeping a centralised store of image files for all of your machines. These images, complete with the specific driver set each needs are then immediately accessible across the network in the event you need to perform a restore. Further, when it comes to the backing up of your backups so to speak, it’s incredibly straight forward as images are stored in one central location and can be written straight to a single media type, be it tape, USB storage etc. ready to be taken off-site.

Ready to upgrade?

If you’re an existing customer of BackupAssist you’ll be entitled to upgrade to 6.4 completely free of charge, provided you’ve got valid upgrade protection.

If you’re not sure on the status of your licence, you can check it using the key analyser on our Web site here.

Join us for a live walkthrough

If you’d like to sign up for a free live Webinar where Neil will talk you through the new features in this version while also giving you the opportunity to ask questions via Skype, simply follow this link and leave us your details. The next one is Wednesday 4th April.

Useful links

> Version 6.4 release notes 

> Latest BackupAssist installer

>  RecoverAssist product sheet (PDF 1MB) 

> Neil’s technical blog post on the benefits of iSCSI

6 thoughts on “BackupAssist 6.4 is here! Super fast image backups, custom boot media and more…

  1. The new changes sound like a step in the right direction. All we need now to make it complete is the ability to move the images offsite over a WAN connection. Rsync doesn’t work reliably for images unfortunately.

  2. Yes you’re quite right there Paul, Rsync works best with lots of small files as it’s that time it takes to scan a large file that ends up being the bulk of the job. We’re aware Cortex are looking in to the best way to approach performing image backups and differentials etc across a WAN so hopefully we’ll have some news to share with you soon.

  3. Presumably one can seed the backup by taking a full image on a usb drive locally take that offsite and then use rsync to send the incrementals across the wan to join it ?

  4. Unfortunately not. it doesn’t quite work like that. When an incremental backup is taken, it is merged with the full backup straight away so that the last backup becomes the full backup and the original first full backup becomes an incremental. Can be a bit tricky to get your head round.

  5. So it comes with it’s own software iSCSI initiator? Any idea how stable iSCSI will be over WAN? There are quite a few online storage offerings that present as an iSCSI target, so I assume it’s not asking the imposible.

    • Hi Ivan, BackupAssist is actually controlling the Microsoft iSCSI initiator in the background, and automatically mounting iSCSI targets as NTFS mount points. There is also an option to mount and dismount automatically so when the job is not running you will not see the extra iSCSI drive.

      I have not personally tested iSCSI over a WAN but if you watch the network access when the job is running there is a fair amount of data transferred over the network, mostly reading from the iSCSI share so I would expect it would not cope well with low bandwidths. However if you are using iSCSI destinations for BackupAssist image jobs, after the initial image has been stored, the differential updates are much smaller and if scheduled often enough this may be possible over WAN connections.

      If you do any WAN testing I’d be interested to know how you get on!

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