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May 2002

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BackAgain/2000 Server Edition version 3.0 - A Review, Part II

By Walter Metcalf © May 2002

Last month we began our review of BackAgain/2000 Server Edition v 3.0 (henceforth called simply, "BackAgain") by examining some of its features compared with BackAgain/2000 WorkStation Edition, and some of the new features in this version. Then we looked at the documentation, installation, and configuration of the product. We will begin this part of the review by examining the actual backup procedure.

Main BackAgain/2000 Screen

  1. Main BackAgain/2000 Screen

    Note: for this and the other screenshots in this article, clicking on the image will usually enlarge it; clicking on browser "Back" button will return to this page.

  2. Double-click on BackAgain object to start the program.

    TIP: If you are backing up a LAN, make sure that all computers having files you want backed up are ready and online before you start BackAgain. This will ensure all files will be found when BackAgain starts.

  3. File Menu
    1. Left-click on the File menu.
    2. Click on the Backup item.
    3. Note: Left-clicking on the Backup Button has the effect as both of the steps above.

  4. Main Backup Screen

    Backup Screen

    Note: Wait until "Ready" appears in the third window of the status line at the bottom of the screen before proceeding. While "Wait" is displayed, BackAgain is scanning the Network for available computers.

    1. Backup Main Menu

      Main Menu

    2. File Selection Screen

      File Selection Screen

      1. To begin the backup process, we must first select some files. Normally this is done using the GUI interface shown above, although backups can also be initiated using the command line and REXX programs. See the PDF manual for further information.
      2. If you wish to backup a complete machine, left-click on the + button next to the machine's icon, right-click on the resulting pop-up menu, and left-click on "All volumes". Note that all the folders in the tree are now marked with a green check mark.
      3. The example in the screenshot shows that it is possible to work through the tree and display all files in a lower-level directory, and display a list of all files in that directory. Then you may select just a few files you actually want to save.
      4. This shows one aspect of BackAgain's great flexibility. With a single command, you can do either a complete backup of an entire network or a single file from one hard drive!

    3. Pop-up Menus

      There are two styles of pop-up menus in the left-hand (tree) window:

      1. Pop-up menus for machine icons. These contain five items:

        • Include all volumes. Clicking on this causes all drives (and directories and files) on this machine to be selected.
        • Exclude all volumes. Clicking on this causes all drives on this machine to be omitted from the backup.
        • Unmark all volumes. Clicking on this removes all selection markings (both Include and Exclude) from all drives on this machine.
        • Expand.

      2. Pop-up menus for drive and folder icons.

        Pop-up screen

        • Include. Clicking here selects all files in the top level of the drive or folder. Subdirectories and their files are not selected. (Recursion is turned OFF.)
        • Exclude. Clicking here will omit all files in the top level of the drive or folder. Subdirectories and their files are not affected. (Recursion is turned OFF.)
        • Include all. Clicking here selects all files and subdirectories in the drive or folder. (Recursion is turned ON.)
        • Exclude all. Clicking here deselects all files and subdirectories in the drive or folder. (Recursion is turned ON.)
        • Custom. Clicking here opens another box which allows the user to enter additional information regarding dates and attributes to further specify which files shall be backed up. (Only available if some selections have already been made in the drive or folder.)
        • Unmark. Clicking here removes all selection markings (both Include and Exclude types) from all files and subdirectories in the drive or folder. (Only available if some selections have already been made in drive or folder.)
        • Expand. Clicking here expands all directories and subdirectories (i.e. the complete tree) contained in the driver or folder. However, no files are selected for backup.
        • Collapse. Clicking here reverses the effect of the Expand as stated above.
        • Open. Clicking here opens a Workplace Shell window containing a tree view of the drive or directory.

    4. File Menu

      Main Menu
      File Menu

      1. Click on "File".
      2. Click on "Save". If a "Save as" has not been performed at least once on the current SET, then this command is equivalent to a "Save as". Otherwise it saves the current SET file using the current name.
      3. Click on "Save as". This will open a File Save Combo box. Enter desired filename, including ".BST" extension, and make sure directory is "SET". Click on "OK" to close the window, and return to the menu.
      4. Clicking on "New" will allow you to create another x.BST or SET file. (It will give you the opportunity to save your current SET file if you have changed it.)
      5. Clicking on "Open" displays a list of all files in your SET directory, and gives you the opportunity to select one to use in a Backup operation.
      6. If desired, click on "Estimate...". This will open a box and automatically cause the computer to calculate the number of files selected and estimated size of the backup. (The size may not take into account any compression, especially hardware compression done by the drive.)
      7. Clicking on "Backup Now!" will initiate the backup immediately. However, it is generally a good idea to review the settings available from the Main Menu before initiating the Backup to avoid any surprises once the Backup has started!.
      8. Clicking on "Exit" terminates BackAgain/2000, properly closing down all files.
      9. Note: At the bottom of the File Menu, numbered 1., 2.,... are the most recent *.BST (SET) files used in BackAgain/2000. Single-left-clicking one of these is a short-cut method of opening it.

        Note: Some of the settings found hereafter duplicate settings found in the Configuration setup. In these cases, the settings here override those made in the Configuration setup for this session only.

    5. Set Menu
      1. Device - Opens the "Device" window shown above, which allows you to select the desired backup device.
        Device selection

        • Note: If you wish to back up to a CD-R or CD-RW device, then select "Disk Device" in the window. This will "un-grey" the Browse button; now enter the device letter assigned to the CD-R(W) device by the CD writer software.
        • Note: In addition to the device types shown above in the "Devices" window, BackAgain/2000 will back up to ATAPI tape drives and tape libraries (autoloaders). My system is not equipped with either of these devices and so these are not displayed.

      2. Compression - Opens "Compression" window shown above, which allows you to select the desired compression. You should check the user's manual for your backup device before selecting a setting, because certain devices will restrict what settings you can use. For example, some DAT drives contain a hardware compression feature and specify that you NOT select software compression. If there are no such restrictions, then you can choose whichever settings you want based on whether backup drive space or time is more important to you. For a complete description of the compression algorithms used, click on the "Help" button.
        SET - Compression

      3. User Exits
        User Exit - This allows advanced users to insert programs (usually Rexx) at specific points during the Backup/2000 processing to further control the overall backup operations. The points at which a user program may intervene during a backup are:
        • Pre-Backup - A program may be executed before the backup is started.
        • Post-Backup - A program may be executed when the backup is completed.
        • Error Exit - A program may be executed if an error or warning is detected during the backup.

          Tip: These Exits can also be used to write a Rexx program that initiates and controls a series of BackAgain sessions.

      4. Backup Type - Opens a window that allows you to choose the type of backup you want: Full, Copy, Incremental, or Differential. Here is a brief description of each of these types:Set Backup Type
          Types of Tape Backups
          Full All selected files are backed up.
          files marked as backed up.
          Copy All selected files are backed up;
          does not mark files as backed up.
          Differential Backs up only selected files that have changed since last full backup;
          files not marked as backed up.
          Incremental Backs up selected files that have changed since last full or incremental backup;
          files marked as backed up.

          For more information, see Part 1 of this article.

    6. Pattern Menu

      Pattern MenuInclude Pattern List

      1. Essentially the Pattern Menu is simply another way of entering the file selections described in Paragraph 4b - File Selection Screen. The major advantage of entering selections here is that it is possible to enter selections on computers that for one reason or another do not appear on the File Selection Screen.
      2. Note that the "Eligibility" submenu gives you complete control over what to do with special files--those that are hidden, zero-length, or those that have been designated as "system".

    7. Options Menu

        The Options menu is really an an assortment of backup controls that do not readily fit elsewhere. However they can be grouped into four categories:

        1. Archive/Catalog handling.
          • Move to Archive - All successfully backed up files are deleted from the hard drive.
          • Do not save catalog - This will prevent BackAgain/2000 from saving a list of backed up files in the backup library (on the hard drive). A list will still be stored on the backup media, so that it can be recovered later.

        2. Media settings.
          • Eject media before/after backup - For those devices capable of being unloaded by the system (i.e. under program control), e.g. CD-RW disks, this function will be performed if the corresponding option is selected.
          • Retension media before backup - A retension does a "fast-forward" to the end of the tape and then rewinds it. This helps straighten out kinks or irregular spots that may be in the tape. This is a good idea as an error preventative measure whenever you use a tape that hasn't been used in a long time. In addition some tape drives will require retensions if a tape has been used several times.

        3. Erase Options

          In this box you are given the choice of never erasing a tape, erasing after a specified number of days, or always erasing a tape. In my opinion you should always leave this set to "Never erase a tape" and choose to erase or not erase a tape on a session by session basis. Either of the other two options present too great a risk of deleting files you don't intend to sometime in the future. Once again, that's my opinion.
          Patterns MenuErase options menu

        4. Backup File Security Information

          When selected, BackAgain/2000 will backup HPFS386 and JFS security information for each file and directory backed up. When backing up FAT or HPFS partitions, this option has no effect. This option should be enabled whenever a complete system backup is performed. (Server Edition only).

    8. Compare Menu

      Compare menu

      1. No comparison pass - In previous years, some kind of validation was essential after performing a backup. However modern hardware has become so reliable that in most situations it is not necessary to do a comparison pass. This is especially true if your backup procedure incorporates some redundancy - e.g. by using differential backups.
      2. Quick compare after backup - This option causes a second pass during which the data written is checked for readability. No comparison with the data on the disk drive is made.
      3. Full compare after backup - This options causes a second pass during which the data written to the backup media is compared with the data on the disk to verify that they are identical.

This brings to the end of the GUI Backup section of BackAgain/2000. In all likelihood this is by far the most commonly used portion of BackAgain/2000 by most users. I hope that this review has given you a good feel for how this program works, and that you have picked up a few pointers while reading it. Next month I shall look at the Restore process, as well as the Emergency or Disaster Recovery procedure as well. Please join me then.

BackAgain/2000, version 3.0
Developer: Computer Data Strategies, Inc.-
Price: Workstation Edition $99.00, Upgrade from v2.1: $79.00
         Server Edition $199.00, Upgrade from v2.1: $149.00

Other links referenced:
   Part I of this review -

Additional Reading:

Article by this writer showing the importance of backing up.
   Backup: Why and How? Part 1 -
   Backup: Why and How? Part 2 -

Series by writer detailing procedure for backing up a LAN.
   How to Back Up Your Network, Part 1 -
   How to Back Up Your Network, Part 2a -
   How to Back Up Your Network, Part 2b -
   How to Back Up Your Network, Part 3 -

Excellent article by Hewlett-Packard outlining several backup strategies.
   Developing a Backup Strategy -

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