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Zetta Data Protect Review: Page 2 of 3

Effective backup and restore processes take work, and companies need better tools. Zetta Data Protect wants to provide that help, especially to dealers and MSPs. By James E. Gaskin

Choosing directories to back up is another chore; each directory address must be typed in by hand rather than checking a box in a hierarchical display. If your minimum backup source is a volume, this won't be much effort, but it still seems old-fashioned.

When choosing files or directories stored in the cloud to restore, Zetta does offer a hierarchical directory display so you can bump down the list to find the missing or mangled file you need to restore. Unfortunately, Zetta has yet to add the drag-and-drop functionality so many other backup programs have embraced. So you spend time zooming up and down the directory tree to find the missing file, then you have to manually type the full directory tree to the last directory where you want the file restored. It's easy to redirect restored files, so it's good Zetta supports that feature, but retyping long directory address strings gets boring. If you're really tired of that, you can right-click the file name of the saved file and download it immediately to the computer you're using, then send it along to where it belongs.

The service emails a daily status report, or Zetta Systems Daily Digest, to keep you updated.

Client software, the aforementioned ZettaMirror, has a dialog box that lives in the bottom right corner of the screen and shows current activity.  If you click the orange "Details" button in the bottom right of the form, a dialog box opens showing more detail of current activity. In this case, the Windows Server 2012 R2 machine just finished a backup. When you highlight one of the tasks in the upper part of the screen, more details appear in the bottom half.

For some reason, the Restore screen changes looks entirely when you drill down to choose the directory or file to restore. The flat directory as you see in the image is the default. To see the hierarchical display you must click the "Show/Hide Folders Panel" icon just above the file display.

Qualms

When testing a new backup application, I first backup some files and directories, delete some random files and directories, and test the restore process. After all, customers hate backup, but they love restore.

Surprise! Zetta does an odd synchronization pass rather than true backup, which I discovered when testing the service between overnight snapshots. Effectively, if you manually push a backup, then delete files to test the restore, and backup again, Zetta erases those missing files from its backup data set. When I went to restore those files, they were gone. Oops.

Zetta explains that this is to keep the storage space used by the customer under control. Keeping copies of deleted files, the company says, just uses space and the lost file can be found on a snapshot from the day earlier. While I see the value of the company's efforts to minimize storage, I believe deleting files in the backup set to match the state of the customer's files is a terrible design decision. Frankly, backup software should never delete files from the database unless ordered specifically to do so by the administrator.

You can, non-obviously, tell the system to "archive" the files during the current backup. You have to set this per backup job on specific directory backup targets. The Zetta folks say they chose to make this optional rather than the default so clients don't waste space saving copies of deleted files over and over. But isn't that one reason you want a backup application... to recover files that were deleted by accident? That's by far the most common use of the restore program. Luckily, real file disasters are rare, but accidents are common.

[Editors Note: Zetta says it has changed this process in the newest version of its software, and no files are deleted during a backup, even when the company tests the process as the reviewer tested it.]

Most backup software isn't built to handle multiple systems in multiple locations all routing their backup data files to a managed cloud service. Zetta fills an important role for those resellers and MSPs eager to better automate their backup business.

Of course, a complicated system like this needs some hands-on training, which Zetta provides, and the offer help to those reselling the cloud backup process to their customers. The combination of remotely watching multiple companies back up up multiple client systems across multiple locations makes Zetta quite useful once the details are worked out. The ability to lock local users out of the system, or give them multiple-level access up to full administrator, means you can customize your backup services for the needs of each of your customers. That's handy. Once you get the hang of some of the odd naming rules and file identification for backup and restore, you could have the foundation of a multiclient backup and restore process.

About the Author

James E. Gaskin's picture

JAMES E. GASKIN is a ChannelPro contributing editor and former reseller based in Dallas.

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