While discussing about the roles and responsibilities of DBAs, backup and restore is counted as on the important activity of a Database Administrator as a day to day task. Though most of the time its scheduled process, but to make sure the backups are happening as per the schedule and verification of those backup files is equally important for the Database Administrators. There are different backup strategies which can be implemented based on the critical database and availability requirements. Microsoft has introduced backup compression as a feature in SQL Server starting from SQL server 2008 with limited edition. Now days it’s available with each SQL Server edition except development. Apart from this SQL server encryption feature also provides good mechanism of protecting the data from vulnerability.
Still many of the Organizations are still using Third party database backup tools to perform the database backups as these tools provide faster backup time, backup compression features as compared to native SQL Server database backups.
There are many database backup tools available in the markets which are being used by various Organizations to streamline the database backup and restore procedures. However there are few points based on which we can decide why we should deploy a third party backup tool for the database backups instead of native database backups.
1) Database back size is very large and there is space crunch on the backup drive or location.
Some of the Third party database backup tools provide more than 40% to 60% backup compression based on the data.
2) Disk IO issues due to big database backup size.
Obviously if the database backup size is compressed to a significant value then definitely there will be huge benefit from Disk IO as well.
Note: There may be some pressure on the CPU due to extra task related to compression.
Apart from above criteria, there are some other aspects based on which it’s recommended to use Third party Database backup tools.
I have listed below some of the Third Party SQL Server backup tools with their features:
Idera is a renowned company in designing SQL Server Database monitoring tools as well as backup tools. SQL Safe backup tool is one of the decent products from Idera family. Following are few great features which are provided by SQL Safe backup tool to manage SQL Server database backups.
- reduction in SQL Server backups timings
- Maximize backup file compression
- Reduce failures (inbuilt feature to retry the backup process in case of any network outage)
- Enterprise-Class Integration
- Centralized Web Portal for easy backup administration
SQL Litespeed is another backup tool provided by Dell (earlier it was a product of Quest Software, now its officially part of Dell after the acquisition few years back). It provides all good features which should be there in a database backup tool as:
- Fast Compression
Enormous reduction in the backup time and size. Backup compression close to 85 % based on the Data.
- Backup Templates
Multiple templates can be created with customized backup strategy which can be implemented for multiple sets of SQL Server Instances
- Amazon S3 support
Database Back up to Amazon S3 cloud
- Adaptive compression
Continually monitor backups and adjust compression for optimal performance.
- Centralized instance sharing
Common instance to console to configure and manage multiple instances under single instance.
- Support for SQL Server AlwaysOn Availability Group
Back up support for AlwaysON database backups on the preferred instances as per the configuration
- Object-Level Recovery
One of the best features which allows object level recovery in the database
- Double-click restore
We can create portable DB backup files, and can be restored by double clicking on the file.
Apart from above features Litespeed tool also provides Backup Analyzer, Restore as compressed, centralized reporting and easily re-executes backup features which makes the DBA life easy.
Using IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Databases: Data Protection for Microsoft SQL Server software, Database backups and restores can be easily performed both to Local disk volumes or Tivoli Storage Manager as well. It provides the functionality of a connection between Tivoli Storage Manager and SQL Server which permits SQL Server database to be backed up and maintained by Tivoli Storage Manager. Database backups do not interrupt the primary applications during the backup execution time. It provides both CLI and GUI modes to take the database backups and perform restores.
Refer the this link for further reading about the specification and features about IBM Tivoli Storage Manager for Databases tool.
Red Gate also provides a very good tool SQL Backup Pro which also performs the database backups with faster speed, more compression and great encryption features. Idera claims up to 95% backup which ultimately save the storage cost as well. Database backups are secured with 256-bit AES encryption mechanism.
Trail version for 14 days can be downloaded from here
Apart from this Red Gate provides Redgate Cloud Services to backup the database to the Azure Blob cloud storage.
This is an overview about the Third party database backup products available in the market. However there are many other products are also available apart from the above listed tools. Whereas using third party backup tools make the DBA life easy with regard to Database backup and restores but at the same time we must consider the cost factor as well. It requires a well executed and planned POC (proof of concept) to materialize the deployment of Third party backup tools.