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Differences Between Alike’s Enhanced and Q-Hybrid Backups
Alike’s Enhanced and Q-Hybrid Backups: Which Method is Better?
Customers often ask us about the differences between using Alike’s Enhanced and Q-Hybrid backups and replication jobs. More specifically, they want to know which approach to choose and when. While one approach isn’t necessarily better than the other, understanding the differences between Enhanced (Agentless) and Q-Hybrid (Agent-Based) can help users better utilize some of Alike’s most prominent and advanced features.
This blog post will cover the key differences between Alike’s Enhanced and Q-Hybrid backups, and go over some of the advantages of each job method to help you decide which approach is best for your environment and backup needs. While these methods are used for both backup and replication jobs, we will discuss backups for our purposes here.
Compatibility of Enhanced and Q-Hybrid Jobs
Before explaining the differences between these two approaches, it’s important to point out that both job methods are 100% compatible with each other. Similar to Alike’s cross-platform support, which allows you to backup, replicate, and restore across different types of hypervisors, Alike allows you to use either Enhanced or Q-Hybrid to backup different systems within your environment.
Because of this compatibility, you can switch methods any time to back up the same systems. This means that regardless of the method you choose, all forms of recovery will always be available to you. This offers a lot of flexibility for your backup and replication jobs.
What Are Enhanced Backups?
The best way to think of enhanced backups is to think of them as agentless backups. The key difference between agent-based and agentless backups is simple: Agentless backups protect your virtual machines without having to install any software on the target VM, or without the need to gain permission for access to each machine. This can provide a huge advantage if you are maintaining a large IT environment that manages multiple departments and domains, or even for organizations in which gaining access to the VMs is simply not possible due to security reasons.
Unlike traditional agent-based backups in which an agent needs to be installed on all the target systems, Agentless, or Enhanced, backups use hypervisor-level snapshots. If you are using Alike for XenServer, these snapshots are processed by a tiny virtual appliance called the ABD (Alike Backup Delegate), and once the backup is complete, Alike removes the temporary ABDs and all the snapshot data. Alike will provision a unique ABD for each concurrent XenServer job.
Protecting Hyper-V hosts with Enhanced backups in Alike do not require an ABD. Instead, Alike uses a similar approach that triggers a hypervisor snapshot of the target VM and processes the data at the host level, transferring it directly to the ADS (Alike Data Store). Upon completion, the Hyper-V snapshot and temporary job data is cleaned up in the same way it does with XenServer.
Key Benefits of Enhanced Backups
- Enhanced backups allow Alike to protect any system, as long as you can take a snapshot of whatever you’re protecting.
- This method is not invasive since it does not require secure access to the VM you’re backing up, and the VM doesn’t know it is being backed up while it is running.
- Because the processing is done by the ABD within the environment instead of using the VMs resources, your production environment is minimally affected.
- Overall, Enhanced backups are easy and fast to set up, so it’s a very simple, clean way to protect multiple VM’s within your environment.
- Agentless (Enhanced) backups allow you to fully segment your backup traffic to a dedicated VLAN
What are Q-Hybrid Backups?
Q-Hybrid is Alike’s agent-based method of protecting Windows virtual machines. But unlike traditional agent-based methods, it can do many of the things that Enhanced can do, and it has a few advantages over Enhanced depending on your needs.
First and foremost, Q-Hybrid can perform VSS or Quiesced snapshots in the guest because it works by backing up from inside out. Instead of using an ABD, Alike dynamically deploys a tiny program (agent) into the VM, and it backs itself up. However, it will need access to the VM to copy a small binary for the duration of the job, which is cleaned up when complete.
It is worth pointing out that Alike’s Q-Hybrid agent is dynamically deployed and requires no installation or maintenance. This dynamic deployment is what distinguishes Q-Hybrid from traditional agent-based backups and from competing solutions.
Q-Hybrid backups do not require a permanent installation of Alike, nor does it have to be installed on all machines. Instead Alike copies our agent to the guest, which means there’s no installation time or set up time, and Alike upgrades all the guests whenever there’s an upgrade. Additionally, you can set up and select different Credential Profiles for each protected system. By default, Alike chooses the “Alike Svc Account” profile, which is the user name and password created when the host is added. To add another profile, simply go to Settings->Backup Settings, and under Manage Profiles, click on “Credential Profiles (for Q-Hybrid Access),” and then click (New) next to the Select Profile drop down. Once added, you can change a profile for a any host protected with Q-Hybrid backups in the System Explorer. Simply click on the one you want from the list, and then click “Show System Details” to manage the Credential Profiles for that host (see image above).
The ability to perform VSS backups has its own set of advantages. Quiesced backups are often employed to provide application level protection for certain Windows systems, such as MS Exchange, SQL Server, Sharepoint, and Active Directory. Remember, you can use a combination of Enhanced and Q-Hybrid backups, so you could use Q-Hybrid for these systems and Enhanced for another set of systems.
Key Benefits of Q-Hybrid Backups
- Q-Hybrid backups are NTFS aware, which means it understands the file system of drives, so it knows it doesn’t need to backup deleted files, and it skips over whitespace when scanning.
- Q-Hybrid backups can be faster than Enhanced, but the compression and deduplication will ultimately be the same.
- Another benefit that may affect certain environments is Q-Hybrid’s ability to protect In-guest iSCSI drives. These drives are invisible to most pure “agentless” backup solutions.
- Because Q-Hybrid backups don’t utilize the hypervisor snapshots, Alike can protect VMs that the hypervisor is unable to snapshot, due to limited space or other complications.
A Few Considerations for Q-Hybrid
- Because Q-Hybrid utilizes Microsoft’s VSS technology, it only works with Windows guest operating systems (XP/2003 and up).
- The Alike server needs to be able to connect and log in to the guest to perform backups, which means that it will need security permissions. This may not be an option in some environments.
Flexible, affordable, and easy to use, Alike offers a competitive suite of powerful backup and recovery solutions for XenServer, Hyper-V, and Windows physical platforms. The Alike DR disaster recovery features include enhanced replication and offsite vaulting to secure your assets and protect your business from disaster, while minimizing downtime and maximizing your system’s valuable resources. Put simply, we make software to make your life easier.