Backing up dedicated servers, especially shared hosting systems with control panels, has always been a pain. cPanel, Plesk and Ensim all have their own format. When you get a restore, problems often emerge. I think we’ve finally found an affordable solution to the problem in the form of R1Soft’s CDP.

At the beginning of the year, we began a long process of evaluating backup software. We had too many problems with restoring sites using the built-in tools that come with many control panels. So we looked at many options. Our criteria was cost, ease of use, bandwidth/space usage, and most importantly data recovery.

We looked at several solutions, both hosted and in-house. CA’s Arcserv proved rather problematic, especially on linux systems. We had issues getting it installed on our CentOS 4 64-Bit system because CentOS was not supported. That’s pretty much eliminated it right there as CentOS is increasingly popular alternative to Fedora and Red Hat.

We then looked at Acronis. Their distribution agreement with Swsoft, the makers of Plesk, was promising in that at least one control panel may have tight integration. We purchased their backup product but found it rather difficult to use. The software was not intuitive to use and the pricing was very rough. $400-$1000 per server. That would be out of the price range of most of our clients.

We then went back to Linux and looked at AMANDA. I had used it previously for some in-house projects and when I was in graduate school. But it lacked the ease of administration that we wanted.

Finally, we found R1Soft’s CDP, continuous data protection, suite. The best thing about this product, beside knowing their lead sales guy from rackshack days, was that I downloaded the demo, installed it, and backed up my first server within 30 minutes. Truly amazing. No other product, regardless of the price, had been so easy to use.

We’ve had CDP in limited release now for several weeks. We’ve plan to roll it out more broadly in a couple of weeks, but suffice it to say that this software is excellent. It is very easy to use with a web-based control panel, very disk and bandwidth efficient, and best of all we can do a bare-metal restore on nearly any system.

When combined with our KVM over IP and netboot environment at our data center, this provides us an excellent full disaster recovery solution. I am very excited about this and will be emailing all of our current management clients to see if they want to add the service. It is highly worth it in the amount of time we will save if we’ve ever need to do a full server restore.