In my last post, I described how convenient it is for admins to configure backup jobs with GFI Backup. Today, I will show you how end users can manage their own backup jobs, thereby making the life of admins even easier.

Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

Agent configuration

I already mentioned in the first post of this series that the agent basically is GFI Backup Home. That is, end users have a full-fledged backup tool on their desktops. Please read my review of GFI Backup's free edition for a detailed description of how users can manage backups with this free tool. In this article, I will describe only the additional features that come with the business edition.

First of all, you should know that admins can disallow access to the agent's user interface. Actually, this is the default setting. With this configuration users will only be informed whenever a backup job starts or if errors have occurred.

Of course you can also disable these messages. Moreover, GFI Backup allows you to control in detail what users can do with the agent. For example, you can allow users to only view backup jobs and stop them. See the screenshot for all settings.

GFI_Backup_Agent_Settings

Admin tasks and user tasks

GFI Backup distinguishes between admin tasks and user tasks. Admin tasks are those backup jobs that are configured at the Administration Console, whereas user tasks are created with the agent's user interface (see screenshot below).

GFI_Backup_Agent_User_Task

Admins can configure tasks that store backups at a central location on a server, or they can use local destinations (for example, a local drive at the user's desktop). GFI Backup supports backups to local disks, network shares, CD/DVDs, and tapes. User tasks basically offer the same options as admin tasks.

The advantage of local destinations is that users always have access to their backups even if their laptops are not connected to the company network. However, in this case the laptop should have at least two disk drives. Another option would be to store backups locally and at a central store. GFI Backup offers remarkable flexibility here. The only feature it lacks is that admins can't predefine central backup destinations for user tasks, which requires users to know the location of the network share.

All tasks, including those that are created locally by end users, are displayed in the Administrator Console (see screenshot below). Admins can view the configuration of local backup jobs but they can't modify them in the Administrator Console. In the same way, users can only view the configuration of admin tasks (if allowed by the admin).

GFI_Backup_User_Tasks

User restores

It is certainly helpful in some environments for users to be allowed to create their own backup jobs. However, most interesting is that users can restore data through the agent's user interface without the help of an admin. This is possible for user and admin tasks alike. Of course, admins can also restore backups with the Administrator Console to the user's PC. However, this only works for admin tasks. Backups of user tasks can only be restored through the agent user interface.

GFI Backup supports item-level and full-backup restores. With item-level restores you can only access the last backup from either the Administrator Console or the agent user interface. However, since the backup destination can also be accessed through Windows Explorer, it is possible to restore single files of older backups without GFI Backup's user interface. Older backups of full-backup restores can be accessed through the agent and the Administrator Console.

Conclusion

I have tested numerous backup programs in my IT career. The popular solutions have become quite bloated over the years, with many features that are simply overkill for small- and mid-sized organizations. This makes these tools difficult to administer, which increases the risks of incorrect configurations. GFI Backup targets mostly small- and mid-sized organizations, and it comes with all the features for this target group. In particular the features that allow end users to restore backups without admin intervention are awesome. Even though my description of user and admin tasks might sound a bit complicated, you'll find that GFI Backup's user interface is quite easy to use.

To participate in the competition for a chance to win a copy of an Asus netbook worth 328 USD and a license of GFI Backup Business Edition for 500 workstations and 50 servers worth 7,100 EUR, send an email to:

contests-at-4sysops-com

with the subject line:

GFI Backup.

You can also use this contact form.

The deadline of this contest is July 16, 2010.

Disclaimer: Any warranty issues regarding the netbook have to be addressed with the netbook vendor. Neither I nor GFI can offer any support for the netbook.

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