Bacula - An OpenSource Backup Solution That's Growing Up
Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
February 23, 2016

Bacula - An OpenSource Backup Solution That's Growing Up

Score 4 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User
Review Source

Overall Satisfaction with Bacula Enterprise

Bacula Enterprise is used across our IT organization, but we do have another product being used in the UK. We backup a variety of systems using different backup options. We have Linux servers, Windows servers, and these are a mix of physical and virtual -- both VMware and Hyper-V. The virtual infrastructure is about 95%. We do a BMR backup once each month, full backups daily of VMware virtual servers (both Linux and Windows), a full weekly for any non-virtual server, and incremental daily in-between.
  • It gets virtual servers snapshotted quickly so they can go back to work.
  • Recovery from virtual server snapshots, while quite a bit unfriendly in the GUI, do work, and work well.
  • Not needing an agent on the server being backed up is a much anticipated strength.
  • Bacula support personnel have worked with us to address some of our complaints, but I still find the GUI very cumbersome. It sorts wonderfully for a machine, but not for a human being. It's search capability is also very off and on. You have to learn a lot of tricks to get a search to work the way you want.
  • We had a LOT of problems early on with not being able to recover a VMware backup from a BMR job. It took a lot of work and correspondence between our company and Bacula before that was resolved. I find it rather a kluge to have to boot from a PE DVD, reconfigure the system, and then recover, but it does work.
  • We are still experiencing issues off and on with restoring selected files from incremental backups. Sometimes it works, other times it does not.
  • The obvious answer to this question is that it has saved our company a substantial amount of money. We do have a support contract with Bacula, and had to go back and forth with them and our legal department to clear up which county's laws would rule in a dispute, but we finally got that hashed out. It isn't free, but it isn't close to what we were spending for support previously.
  • The downside to the reduced cost of ownership is that it comes with reduced timeliness of support. If something breaks on a Saturday at 2:00 a.m., we aren't going to get support on it until sometime Monday, and even then the problem likely won't be fixed on Monday either.
Cost: Bacula wins hands down on cost.
Deduplication: CommVault is, as they put it, hardware agnostic when it comes to deduplication, and is really fast. Bacula does deduplication too, but not nearly as well. CommVault's deduplication remains deduplicated across all media. Not so for Bacula.
Reliability: Having worked with CommVault for many years, I still have much more faith in its reliability and support. However, Bacula is doing a pretty darned good job of getting a ton of systems backed up regularly. EMC's NetWorker, on the other hand, NEVER had a even one day of successful backups in over a three year period.

In the end, our company selected Bacula because of the cost savings and the belief that it would be reliable enough to cover and recover at least 90 percent of our systems.
If all we needed to do was recover a file or server here and there without any time pressure, we'd be doing alright. I keep thinking about what would happen in a true disaster if something went awry with Bacula during the restore process. The time lag of trying to get in contact with someone overseas who probably won't get the message right away, and may or may not respond that day tends to keep me awake at night. I'm used to 24/7 high-priority support from companies like CommVault and EMC. OpenSource does have some advantages, but saving time isn't one of them.

Bacula Enterprise Feature Ratings

Universal recovery
Not Rated
Live recovery
3
Recovery verification
Not Rated
Business application protection
3
Multiple backup destinations
5
Incremental backup identification
4
Backup to the cloud
Not Rated
Deduplication and file compression
5
Snapshots
8

Using Bacula Enterprise

IT - Linux administrators
IT - Windows administrators
IT - Database administrators
We have one primary in-house support person, who has a less knowledgable secondary.
  • Full system recovery - Windows, Linux - Physical servers, VMware servers and Hyper-V servers
  • Disaster Recovery - yet to be tested, but will be this year.
  • Meeting the SLAs for backups. ALL backups must be completed within the SLA windows.
  • All backups are sent to a ZFS, and critical systems are replicated from there to an offsite DR location.
  • Hopefully we will obtain the Hyper-V plugin this year to make recoveries of those systems easier to perform.
  • Hot-site disaster recovery. I'm eagerly looking forward to seeing we can shut a server or number of servers in our production environment and go live from our DR hot site within minutes.
Management is keen on cost saving. I prefer the pervious backup solution we had, but support was getting expensive. I think Bacula has a lot of growing up to do before I would put it in the same category as the "big boys," but they are making progress. With the help of customers' feedback and tickets, they'll get there in the next year or two.

Using Bacula Enterprise

It still has a lot of flaws to overcome, especially in the area of user friendliness. Searching and filtering is quite cumbersome. Once you find the job you from which you want to restore, be sure to write that job number down because you won't be able to quickly find the job again without it during a recovery.
ProsCons
None
Do not like to use
Unnecessarily complex
Difficult to use
Requires technical support
Not well integrated
Inconsistent
Cumbersome
Lots to learn
  • Restarting a failed job is as simple as clicking on a re-run job icon.
  • Searching for a particular backup job requires the patience of Job because you have to weed through thousands of jobs that appear in the order in which they were run. Try searching for last BMR backup of "server_abc" when there are 800+ servers that are backed up every day, most starting with "vmware-xxxxxx" and you can't filter out all those that you don't want to see.
  • BMR works for recovering a Hyper-V server, but it is a kluge. Recovery should be built into the application rather than requiring an administrator to first build a bare bones server, boot from a customized BRM PE disk, reconfigure from there and the run the recovery.