In our business, we take backup, recovery, and replication pretty seriously. We have a variety of different backup utilities, storage devices and appliances and devices dedicated as replica datastores. Anyway, we currently use a combination of Veeam and Unitrends. Though I am very partial to one of those two – and I’ll go through each of them, and their pros and cons because they both do have some very good things and of course they both have a few things that could be improved. Veeam happens to be the one I am partial to, so this article will just be pitting them against each other and basically ramblings about why I prefer Veeam over Unitrends.
Unitrends comes in a few different packages – you can buy an appliance from them (which is what we have) and they also now offer Unitrends Enterprise Backup, which basically is a VM that is almost the same thing as the appliance, other than you use shared storage (or datastore storage) for your backup repository. A few things Unitrends really excels at is compression, deduplication (it has native dedupe), etc… It’s Linux (CentOS) based, and uses a lot of custom built packages to back up that data. It uses Postgres for the database (holds all backup metadata). You can map iSCSI, NFS, or CIFS volumes to back up to as a repository (at least with the VM, the appliance does not allow you to do this, or at least with our license it does not). I think one of the things that Unitrends shines in is that it can basically back up anything – SQL Server, Virtual Machines (HyperV or VMware), Physical Machines (bare metal or certain disks). You can also create Bare Metal restore Media (CD / DVD) and restore a physical server that way.
Veeam on the other hand is installed on a Windows machine, requires a SQL Server database (it will install SQL Express if you don’t have a full out SQL Server infrastructure). Veeam does an extremely good job at compressing VMs (very high compression ratio, at least compared to Unitrends). What’s also pretty nice about it is that it’s VERY fast – we back up VMs over a WAN connection (20 meg line) and for the most part they take less than 2 minutes a piece. There are some that take a little longer than that, but for the most part, they are very fast even over lower latency and slower networks. In contrast to Unitrends, Veeam really only backs up virtual machines (HyperV or VMware, depending on your license). I think one of the main things I really like about Veeam is the GUI and the program interface. It’s really straight forward and clean and easy to use. Unitrends, in contrast, has a really hokey web based UI that is flash based. There are things that are buried in there in all kinds of odd places and it’s just not as clean and straight forward as the Veeam interface.
So that said here is the comparison:
1. Solid GUI
2. Fast backups (using change block tracking)
3. Awesome compression
4. Solid Feature Set
5. Robust backup options (Incremental, Reversed Incremental, Full
6. Custom Backup Repositories (as in physical disk, SAN to SAN, etc…)
7. Replication is included with the license
8. You can install it just about anywhere – a VM, a physical machine – though I would recommend a physical machine because depending on your compression ratios, CPU usage could get a little heavy
1. Backing up Physical Machines is not an option at this point
2. Change Block Tracking doesn’t play nice with other backup appliances (to be fair, this isn’t Veeam’s problem, this is more of a VMware problem)
3. Price – it’s pretty expensive – but depending on what you need backed up, it’s worth it
1. Backs up just about anything (HyperV VMs, VMware VMs, Physical Windows, Linux, Solaris, etc… servers)
2. Either a VM or a physical appliance, but the physical appliance has to be from Unitrends. You can’t just use your own hardware.
3. Restores are pretty quick
1. Unintuitive and unattractive GUI
2. Does not play nice with any kind of Replicas or VM Clones
3. Bare Metal restores are painfully slow (over network)
4. Reporting is not so hot – when there is a problem, it gives you only a “Job Failed” email, with no description as to why. To find out why, you have to go digging.
5. Pretty expensive and licensing fees are convoluted
Like I said at the beginning, at first I was a little hesitant of Veeam – mainly because of the expense, but the constant improvements and updates that come by way of patches, it’s really an awesome application. I would choose it over Unitrends if I had to decide today.