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Jan
18

Securstore Review – Storage for all

by Gareth Halfacree

Is there truly such a thing as a one-size-fits-all backup solution for the Linux-based enterprise user? Securstore certainly seems to think so

Securstore is one of a number of companies around today which specialises in secure, off-site backup for businesses, offering remote storage in a pair of UK or US data centres with the content of one being automatically replicated to the other – a backup for your backup, if you will.

Encryption types and keys are set at installation
Encryption types and keys are set at installation

The company’s chosen software isn’t an in-house job, however: Securstore acts as a partner for cloud backup specialist Asigra, using the company’s DS-Client and DS-User software to do the heavy lifting. With Asigra’s software dating back to 1986, that’s no bad thing.

Installing the software is pretty straightforward: while designed with Red Hat and SUSE servers in mind, the Asigra DS-Client can be massaged onto pretty much any Linux platform imaginable – and it’s here that Securstore shows its first signs of excellence.

Rather than just leaving the customer to get on with things, Securstore has a proactive approach to support: signing up for the service gives you the opportunity to book in a call with the company’s UK or US support teams, who will walk you through the installation and configuration process step-by-step. If you’re more of a self-directed learner you have the option of doing it all yourself – but it’s certainly nice to know the support is there.

The software itself has a plain and sometimes confusing user interface which takes some getting used to, but you quickly discover that there’s plenty of flexibility under the hood: each backup set can contain files from local file systems, remote servers via SSH and NFS, permissions-only backups, MySQL, Postgres, Sybase, Oracle and DB2 databases, VMware virtual machines, and even physical-to-virtual server backups for disaster recovery.

Creation of each backup set – which, again Securstore’s support team will walk you through over the phone if required – includes options for performing the backup itself as well as enforcing retention periods. This is one of the most important options: Securstore charges on a per-gigabyte basis for remote storage – £2.50 per gigabyte for under 100GB, £2 per gigabyte at 100GB plus, billed monthly with a £50 minimum – so retaining multiple generations of large files can quickly get expensive, even with the range of compression options on offer in the software.

While Securstore’s prices are higher than rival backup- centric cloud storage offerings such as Amazon’s Glacier, Securstore certainly piles on the extras for its business users: as well as the aforementioned support, the company boasts ISO 27001 accreditation – a British Standards Institute mark of information security – which many larger companies will have as a requirement from any off-site data storage firm. There’s also full training and unlimited client licences for direct backups from desktop, laptop and even smartphone platforms included in the price.

For the larger company with a terabyte plus to back up, Securstore also offers a hybrid cloud service. Unlike its standard offering, the hybrid cloud environment sees hardware installed directly in your own data centre – managed remotely by Securstore – with the option of off-site replication to the company’s secondary data centre.

It’s here where cloud-based backup systems can fall down, through no fault of their own: larger companies that can afford high-bandwidth leased lines dedicated to data backup will find a cloud-based backup platform seamless and pain-free, but those with contentious low-bandwidth connections can struggle. Thankfully, Securstore has that covered too: for emergency restoration of large backup sets, customers can request a copy on tape or disk to be couriered at no extra cost, and can send a disk for initial backup seeding too.

For the less technical user, there’s even a bundled ‘encryption sheet’. This takes the form of a grid of hexadecimal characters and instructions to circle, one per line; this then forms the key for the encryption used in the backup, with the paper original being locked in a safe to guard against losing the only employee who knows the password. Users who would prefer a stronger password are, of course, free to use any characters they’d like.

Verdict

4/5

Not the cheapest off-site backup solution, and its software isn’t the friendliest – but it’s powerful, highly compatible and comes with some of the best commercial support you could wish for. Just configure your retention policy well to avoid an exponential increase in your data storage charges.

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