While Bacula Community can be still used as a computer backup program for a single machine, it’s probably not the best use of the software. Kern Sibbald created Bacula’s core competence around the needs of large data centers, that have servers being used for enterprise applications.
Typically, you want your enterprise-level server backup software to easily scale for different business sizes, including large ones that cover several data centers at once. Your solution should be capable of handling a large amount of storage destinations, backup servers, backup/restore jobs, and volumes on tape/disk. Overall solution capacity is therefore one of the deciding factors to start with.
Server backup solution capabilities
Some server backup systems also have separate architectures for catalogs, consoles, storage daemons and file daemons. Overall, good server backup software should be modular, customizable and, of course, flexible. You should be able to add more storage or file daemons whenever your server number increases. This flexibility should likewise extend to cover multiple data centers and have the ability to be applied to different disaster recovery scenarios.
As an example of a service that supports a lot of different databases, Bacula’s server backup solution is capable of working with:
- SAP, and many more.
Active Directory backups and LDAP backups are also supported in Bacula’s free server backup software. There’s also a especially high number of virtual server providers supported:
- Red Hat
- Xen Server
Best practices for server backup solution
To help you with choosing the best solution for server backup purposes, here’s a list of recommended features that it should have ‘out-of-the-box’:
- High scalability and flexibility
- Cloud storages support (S3 or others)
- Support of different databases such as SAP HANA, SQLite, MSSQL, Oracle, SAP, MySQL and others
- Support for your required platforms, such as Linux (Debian, Ubuntu, RHEL and more), Solaris, Windows, FreeBSD and other *nix systems
- Advanced security measures incl. data encryption between backup system elements
- Deduplication technology on both file and storage side
- A wide variety of storage destinations, including disk, cloud, tape, etc.
Free server backup software examples
To make the discussion more detailed, we are also going to present a number of other server backup solutions that exist in this market in order to showcase the advantages that Bacula has over other solutions. As such, here are our free server backup software examples:
1. Windows Server Backup
There are plenty of different server types out there that need their own backup solution, but it is always important to remember the built-in capabilities, as well. For example, Windows Servers have their own Windows Server Backup (WSB) – a surprisingly useful free server backup software that can perform full server backups, backups with some degree of granularity (specific volumes, specific files/folders), bare metal recovery capabilities, granular restore, backup scheduling, and more. It is capable of saving backups to either a network drive or a local drive, and there is even an option of partial restoration if you only need Exchange data to be restored from a bigger backup. WSB can work with a company of any size as a basic backup solution, but it also works best for smaller businesses or even individuals with little to no IT experience and/or serious budget constraints.
Acronis Cyber Protect is a highly versatile data security solution that combines data management and data protection efforts in a single package. It is a centralized security platform that can create backups of desktop devices, mobile devices, and servers – with the ability to manage all of them from a single dashboard. Despite the fact that Acronis is a comprehensive solution that has many other features aside from backup or recovery – both of these are efficient and versatile, with features such as file-level backups, virtual server backups, the ability to mix and match backup strategies, cloud backup support, and more. It would be a great free backup server software but it is a primarily paid solution that only has a month-long free trial and nothing else in terms of free software.
Hasleo Backup Suite is a simple yet effective backup solution from Hasleo Software (formerly EasyUEFI). It can create backups of both regular Windows installments and Windows Server, and there are also plenty of features such as full backup, cloning, backup encryption, and even the ability to split the backup file into multiple smaller chunks. All of that is packed into a rather simple and easy-to-use interface, making Hasleo a great option for many different client types. Hasleo Backup Suite is a completely free server backup software with no hidden charges or subscriptions necessary to access the entire range of the software’s capabilities.
Veeam Data Platform is a comprehensive solution that combines data freedom, data security, as well as data recovery. It is capable of covering a range of different data sources, from physical to virtual, cloud, SaaS, and more. It can provide secure backups, fast recoveries, and varied workload coverage. Veeam itself is also unique since it is one of the few solutions on the upper echelon of the backup market that also has free versions of its software available for everyone. Veeam Backup and Replication Community Edition is a free server backup software that provides all of Veeam’s backup capabilities in a single package, with the only limitation being the fact that it cannot support more than 10 workloads at once, no matter if those workloads are VMs, endpoints, servers, NAS, etc.
Amanda, or the Advanced Maryland Automatic Network Disk Archiver, is a free backup server solution capable of setting up a centralized master backup server and using it to generate backups of different hosts and other locations. It supports not only Windows, but also Linux and macOS systems, and backup storage locations can include disk, tape, and even AWS S3 cloud storage. It can also be integrated with the majority of NAS providers, making it a rather convenient option for a good number of use cases. Amanda is not the most user-friendly software on the market, and it lacks most of the visualization options in general – including backup progress status, among other features. All of these issues are fixed in the commercial version called Zmanda, but Amanda itself is still a free server backup software that is also open-source.
N-able’s main target audience is MSPs – managed service providers, and the range of services that they are offered is good, including data security, archival, regular backup and recovery operations, M365 backups, and so on. N-able Cove Data Protection is part of this solution that focuses specifically on backup and recovery operations, and it can also be used as a separate solution. It is a SaaS solution that is easy to deploy and has a lot of different capabilities and features, such as physical server backup, virtual server backup, MySQL database support, SharePoint data support, as well as compression, encryption, archiving capabilities, and more. It can be somewhat difficult to work with for someone who does not have at least some in the backup or IT field, and the solution itself is fully commercial - although it has a free trial that lasts for 30 days, making its status as a free backup server solution temporary.
8. Datto SIRIS
Datto SIRIS is a versatile backup solution that can cover both Windows and Linux servers, as well as endpoints on macOS, Linux, or Windows. The way Datto works is similar to a NAS controller, and it can also store backups in other locations – attached storage and offsite cloud storage. It supports both incremental and image-based backups and can cover cloud servers, virtual servers, as well as on-premise servers. The main target audience of Datto SIRIS is MSPs, and the software itself is distributed as a SaaS package, without the need of maintaining any servers for the solution to operate properly. Unfortunately, Datto SIRIS is not a free solution and there is no free trial available at all, but there is a demo that can be requested on a case-by-case basis by potential clients.
Iperius Backup is a freeware solution for both regular Windows systems as well as Windows Server installments. It has quite a lot of features, including cloud backups, FTP backups, MS Exchange/M365 support, data encryption, data compression, external scripts, and more. A free version of the software is capable of working with a number of backup storage locations, including NAS, external USBs, and even RDX drives – it also supports advanced filtering, backup encryption, and many other features. There are also multiple premium versions of the same solution with VSS support, tape support, support for a variety of databases (MySQL, MariaDB, SQL Server, etc.), and more.
10. Altaro VM Backup
As the name suggests, Altaro VM Backup is a solution that focuses its efforts on backing up virtualization, such as Hyper-V and VMware. Businesses can use it to replicate their virtual servers both onsite and offsite, and every copy can be stored in a number of locations, including cloud servers. It also has a version that could be white-labeled to carry the brand, which is a great option for SaaS resellers and MSPs. Altaro is capable of incremental backups, supports continuous data protection, data compression, data encryption – and all of that is included in a user-friendly interface with a lots of of different metrics and parameters. It is perhaps not the most versatile solution when it comes to disaster recovery. It is a fully commercial solution with no free version, although there is a month-long trial version available for potential customers.
Bacula Community as a server backup solution
There is one more solution worth mentioning in this context, and that is Bacula Community.
Bacula Community server backup software meets all of the aforementioned recommendations. The great advantage of this open source server backup software is that it’s totally free - and with all these enterprise features included.
There’s also one more important technology that a lot of people tend to forget – automatic backups. If you run nightly backups automatically, literally everything should be automated – not only the backup job started at the right time, but any job that fails should have the ability to be started over, and all other tasks that are included in the backup process should proceed automatically, too.
Your backup automatization mechanisms should be configurable to a considerable extent, including different levels of backup and different command inputs in the process. This automatization mechanism is capable of working with all standard backup levels, namely:
- Full Capable of backing up the entire data set, consumes a lot of network bandwidth and physical/virtual storage.
- Incremental Backing up only those files that changed in some way after the last backup happened (either Full or any other one), less storage-consuming than full but all of the incremental backups tend to pile up and take additional storage space.
- Differential Conveniently combining all of the changes since the last backup happened, much more time and storage conservative since you don’t need the last full backup and all of the incremental backups since then to restore the system (like Incremental does).
Bacula’s scheduler also allows you to set other tasks to run automatically, not only backups. This list includes catalog database optimization, filesystem check, some sort of monitoring task, and more. Bacula can automate a high number of processes in your backup schedule if you require it, and exploit the especially high potential of this high-end solution.
Bacula - despite being completely free, is especially effective at protecting medium and large sized enterprises; it has advanced security qualities, is extremely scalable, and its open source-hardened code is particularly robust, stable and reliable. Important to know: you will need a linux machine to run the core component of Bacula. For even more scalability and interoperability, Bacula Enterprise is also available on a free 30 day trial.
If you’re also interested in Tape Backup, check out Bacula's solution.