DPM Review – 90 Days with Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager

I’ve used Microsoft’s System Center Data Protection Manager for about 90 days now as my main production backup service.  Here is my quick review of the product.


One stop shopping for support: Microsoft products backing up Microsoft products sounds like a dream come true for support – and mostly it is.  The knee-jerk reaction to something like this is to say “Microsoft has to support any problems I have” – and they do – again, mostly.  The support issues you run into bouncing between Microsoft and .. say – Symantec can be just as bad as bouncing between the DPM team and the other support teams in Microsoft’s immense support structure.

Full Backups, Daily: After the initial backup of a 30GB VHD backup of one of my Hyper-V guests, I don’t have to worry about a full backup again – changes to the files are logged through the DPM agent and those changes are sent along.  A note of this – backing up SQL guests is kind of annoying.  1 – virtualizing SQL is kind of bad anyway, 2 – the changes that are made when backing up SQL to .bak and .trn files is sizable enough to become annoying when backing up VHD level images of your guest.

Great Exchange Backups: I’ve backed up Exchange with a few different products, and that’s never been fun.  DPM changes the game for me.  It backs up data effectively and without causing performance related outages like I’ve experienced before with ArcServe.  It actually does backup from the passive node, unlike some other products I’ve used, and the restores have always been consistent… if not convenient, which I’ll get into … – but on the positive side again, it’s very flexible about restores, allowing you to restore an EDB from any point in time a backup was created, even if the backup was created as a transaction log backup.


Poor Exchange Restores: DPM is a Microsoft product through and through, and therefore doesn’t use unsupported restore methods.  This means it “takes advantage” of Exchange’s Recovery Storage Group method for restores.  This is rather inconvenient for someone like me, who’s used to “brick level back ups and restores” – I’ve gotten around this using another, third party product and just restoring an EDB from whenever is most convenient and using this tool to restore individual mail items online through MAPI.  Worked great!

Flakey Agent Connection: I’ve had some issues getting the “backup network” setup in DPM, and I resorted to using host files – this isn’t the best solution and maybe that’s the reason for this, but I sometimes have issues with DPM dropping connection to an agent, sometimes in the middle of my extensive backup window – thus making me lose a night.

Relatively Small Community: For being a Microsoft Product, DPM has a relatively small community.  I see a future in it, and I think others do, too – and I’ve seen alot of complaints about it not being ready for “primetime” (I disagree) – but at this point you really do have to depend on Microsoft support and instincts to get issues resolved.

I am looking forward to DPM v3 and the improvements they’ll make!  You can be sure I’ll be standing in line when the DPM v3 beta drops!