by Brad Jensen, CEO
Electronic Storage Corporation – LaserVault

One of the questions we hear most frequently is, “What is the difference between LVBackup and the Universal Backup Device (UBD)?” Since both provide backups for IBM i hosts, it can be a bit confusing. To start, here is a quick explanation of what they are and what they do.

How LVBackup and UBD are similar…
LVBackup and UBD are disk-to-disk (D2D) software solutions specifically designed for the IBM i (iSeries, AS/400, System i). They offer IBM i shops an easy and affordable alternative to using physical tape backups. Both simplify the backup process by removing the need to deal with tape media and tape drives. They are designed to make IBM i backups and the backup process, faster. Both offer compression and AES-256 encryption to secure and protect data and often are put in place as part of disaster recovery protection. They can be used instead of tape or in addition to tape, depending on the needs of the business.

There is no limit to the amount of data you can store and there is no extra charge for data size. By eliminating or reducing the use of tape, they simplify the management of IBM i backups, thereby improving overall operations. IT personnel are freed up for other tasks because they no longer have to deal with the requirements of physical tape. Lastly, we specifically designed the software to be easy to use and to ensure the transition time and learning curve are minimal. For someone currently managing tape backups and then switches to UBD or LVBackup, one of the most notable differences will be that they no longer have to get up out of their chair to deal with the tapes.

Now, what makes the solutions different…
LVBackup is a backup product designed specifically with small to medium-sized businesses in mind. The solution helps SMB customers easily implement D2D backups with the least amount of disruption. Using the local network and a customer-supplied Windows server of their choosing, LVBackup connects via TCP/IP and standard Ethernet interfaces. LVBackup offers a full host of commands and functionality for performing backups and restores of IBM i environments. The backup commands are very similar to standard IBM i commands and are installed on the IBM i server, which then directs IBM i backups to the Windows server.

The software creates a backup catalog on the Windows server that tracks each save and keeps a list of all the objects in each save. This gives the customer VTL-like file restoration capabilities for IBM i, but without the expense of a VTL (see more on VTL’s below).

First introduced in 2006, there are 100’s of SMB’s currently using LVBackup instead of tape to automate their daily and incremental backups. Some have integrated the solution with their dedupe appliance, such as ExaGrid or Quantum, and many use LVBackup to automatically send their backups to a second server off-site or to the cloud as part of their disaster recovery/business continuity plan.

We have several customers who started with LVBackup have since upgraded to UBD. UBD (Universal Backup Device) is a hardware appliance or a software solution that can be deployed on your choice of hardware that connects to IBM i servers via Fibre Channel and emulates a tape drive, providing backup speeds up to 409 MB/second. UBD uses standard IBM I backup commands and requires little downtime for installation. With UBD the user can perform unattended restricted full system saves. An LVBackup user can use the SAVSYS feature to do the same.

The UBD appliance can be directly attached to a production server or used as a gateway device to move IBM i backups to a secondary backup appliance, such as a NAS, SAN, or dedupe appliance that supports CIFS, NFS or iSCSI connections. The UBD appliance comes with RAID6 for storage.

Are they like a VTL?
In addition to the first question, “How are they different?” this second question often comes up: “Are they like a VTL?” Although both UBD and LVBackup are “virtual tape solutions” what they are not is a virtual tape library. In fact, they were created in response to IBM i users who told us that VTL was too expensive, and most of all, too complicated. So what is the difference from a VTL? UBD and LVB are designed so that the user can make the transition from tape without upending their backup processes. Because they look like a tape drive to the IBM i, (the IBM i doesn’t know the difference), the transition from using physical tape to UBD or LVB is easier than trying to implement a VTL, and it’s much easier on the budget.

To recap, for LVBackup think: TCP/IP, Ethernet, and daily and incremental backups; for UBD think: Fibre Channel with speeds up to 409MB/sec. For both, think unattended restricted full system saves. Whether it’s LVBackup or UBD, customer after customer has told us how much the product has helped their backup processes. With this, we have succeeded in our mission to help them improve their system’s functionality and business.

If you are not currently using either solution, we hope you will take 20 minutes to see a live demo. Email us at for more info.

Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”– Ben Franklin

Best in IT and best in business,
Brad Jensen, CEO

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