Yesterday, I discussed the Microsoft's Data Protection Manager's (DPM) advantages over traditional disk-based backup software. However, DPM also has some disadvantages. Some of these shortcomings are related to the fact that DPM is a CDP solution; or to the fact that it is just version 1.0.

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The main issue with any backup strategy is the so called RPO (Recovery Point Objective). Basically, the RPO specifies the time to which you plan to recover data. Other considerations are: how many different versions of a certain file you want to secure, and how long the maximum time difference between two versions should to be. The most well known backup scheme is the grandfather-father-son strategy where you have daily incremental or differential backups, and weekly plus monthly full backups.

Such backup strategies are difficult to achieve with CDP solutions. The DPM, for example, allows no overwrite protection for backed-up data. It can only predict the time when a certain shadow copy will be overwritten. The time to which you can recover depends on the amount of changes of your data. Therefore, it is not possible to specify an exact RPO.

Another problem is that a file can only be in one so called Protection Group, the equivalent to backup jobs in traditional backup systems. Therefore, you can't configure a backup policy like the grandfather-father-son strategy with DPM.

The DPM was not designed for long term data archiving anyway, as it doesn't support tape-based backups. Additionally, the DPM only allows a maximum of 64 shadow copies. Hence, even if you have large amounts of disk space available, long term archiving is not doable.

DPMThird party vendors like Symantec (Backup Exec) and Yosemite can help to remedy these shortcomings. They offer agents which allow integrating DPM in an overall backup strategy that supports long time archiving and staging. For instance, one can use Symantec Backup Exec to backup DPM's shadow copies to a tape system. To restore the data you don't need DPM anymore. You can restore it directly to the original backup source. Computer Associates (Acrserve) and Caumvault (QiNetix) also have announced similar agents for their backup solutions.

DPM is Microsoft's first professional backup solution. Thus, it lacks many important features that are a matter of course for other backup tools. The biggest shortcoming, and I must admit that I was quite surprised when I first heard about it, is that DPM can't secure the Windows System State. This implies that even small companies can't use the DPM as its sole backup solution. You always need a second backup software for disaster recovery. Microsoft recommends using the backup tool that comes with Windows to secure the Windows System State. Well, if you only have one or two servers in your company this might be a solution for you. You probably know that one has to configure this backup tool separately for every server.

I had an interview with Microsoft officials for my German article about the DPM. For sure, the next version will have this feature according to them. They also said that the DPM will then probably be able to backup Microsoft Back Office products like SQL Server or Exchange. I don't have to mention that systems of competing software companies won't be supported so fast. So I wouldn't expect agents for other database system as SQL Server in the near future. If you also have a bunch of UNIX or Linux systems in your network DPM most likely will never be your favorite backup software.

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This article only covers the major shortcomings of the DPM. I will compare DPM with its main rival, Symantec's Continuous Protection Server for Backup Exec, soon. You will learn about more problems of DPM then.


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