Veritas Backup Exec 21.3 review: Covers every angle

A dependable onsite backup platform with cloud support, extensive recovery features and SMB-friendly licensing

A screenshot of Veritas Backup Exec 21.3

IT Pro Verdict


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    Outstanding cloud support

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    Granular recovery options

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    Excellent VM backup features


    Backup Exec is a well-established data-protection solution that’s recently been updated. In this case, Backup Exec 21.3 (BE21) brings more a sprinkling of new features than a deluge, but the improvements are still welcome.

    In particular, it’s great that data deduplication services now extend to cloud backup repositories, to help you get the best value from your storage. There’s support for more cloud storage regions, too, and BE21 can now use Windows Server 2022 systems as both host and target.

    There’s a choice of three licensing tiers, each one priced according to the amount of data backed up, prior to deduplication and compression. The price shown above is per terabyte of data on a Bronze subscription; this supports all physical, virtual and cloud servers, while a Silver licence adds Linux and app support, along with granular recovery for individual objects such as databases. The Gold licence, as you’d imagine, activates everything Veritas has to offer.

    Installing BE21 on a Windows Server 2019 host took us around 20 minutes, and we were then able to use the console to deploy agents to the physical servers in the lab. For virtual systems you can use agentless backup, or install the remote agent to enable full granular recovery from Windows VMs. We added our VMware vSphere host by providing its IP address and credentials, while our Hyper-V host received the remote agent as soon as it was declared.

    BE21 gives you plenty of options for backup storage, supporting physical and virtual disks, cloud services, tape drives, deduplicating stores and network shares. We used an iSCSI target on a Synology NAS for our test vault, which we added by simply providing its local drive letter.

    A screenshot of Veritas Backup Exec 21.3

    For cloud storage, we merely had to provide our Amazon S3 account ID and key and choose a bucket. BE21 doesn’t currently support the Object Lock option, but it applies home-grown ransomware protection by blocking any other process from writing to its data stores.

    If you want to use the new cloud deduplication feature, you’ll need a Silver or Gold licence and a local folder to serve as a cache. We had no problem setting this up, and after enabling encryption and providing an Amazon S3 key, our deduplicated cloud repository was presented as a new backup destination.

    When it comes to creating backup jobs, you can get started by selecting your source systems in the console, then choosing a predefined strategy from its drop-down menu. Multiple stages can be added to implement a hybrid strategy that backs up to both local and cloud locations, as well as replicating to other disk stores.

    For restoration, you can browse the files, folders or volumes of a selected source, pick a recovery point and choose where to send them. Instant GRT takes care of SQL databases and Exchange items, while for bigger recovery tasks you can use the instant VM Recovery option, which turns a backup into a new VM. We selected a backup of our SQL Server host and had it running in VMware in only 80 seconds. BE21 also integrates with Microsoft Azure Site Recovery, allowing VMs to be replicated to the cloud and restored in seconds. For physical clients, bare-metal recovery can restore a system onto new hardware,

    Backup Exec really covers every data backup and recovery angle, with a superb range of features. It’s great for protecting virtual environments, cloud support is excellent and you can choose exactly the capacity and features you want to pay for.

    Dave Mitchell

    Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

    Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.