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Agent Based or Agentless Backup, Which is Right for You (Part 2)

Nov 16, 2016, 10:05 AM by Peter Ely

The Pros and Cons of Going Agentless and Working with Agent, Part 2 of 2

In part 1 of this 2-part series, I introduced the concept that there is no single, always-correct answer to the question of whether to deploy and agent-based or agentless backup solution. Each type of configuration can make sense for different companies’ backup needs — and in some cases, what a company will need is a combination of both agent-based and agentless solutions.

I also discussed the primary positives and negatives of deploying an agent-based backup system. In this post, I’ll walk you through the pros and cons of agentless-backups. Bear in mind, though, that these refer specifically to KeepItSafe’s industry-leading online backup solutions — other backup platforms will differ.

Before we delve into the pro-con discussion of agentless backup, let me briefly recap the definitions of “agent” and “agentless” in the context of data backup.

An Overview of Agentless and Agent-Based Backup

In data backup, an agent is an always-running software application on a server, which packages data files into a single backup job. An agent can automatically authenticate the server, without the need for a username and password. But to perform companywide backup, agents must be installed on each production server.

Agentless backup is a solution that backs up data without an agent running in the background. This means you will not need to install a separate piece of software on every production server to perform regular, automatic, companywide backups of all of your data, applications and OS files. But unlike agent-based backup, an agentless configuration typically requires the creation of a password-protected user account on each machine.

The Pros and Cons of KeepItSafe’s Agentless Backup

Here are the primary positives and negatives of working with an agentless solution for backing up your business data. (Please see the previous post for a pro-con discussion of deploying an agent-based backup.)

Positives of Agentless Backup:

1. Agentless backup requires only admin/root credentials to perform application-aware backups. This means you will not need to install backup agents on each production server or other target system.

2. Because you won’t need to install or manage agents on your servers, you won’t need to perform any reboots of your servers after installing backup software.

3. Agentless backup does not require or drain as many resources on your target servers when the system is running its automatic backups.

4. Unlike with an agent-based configuration, you can back up storage appliances such as your SAN or NAS devices.

Negatives of Agentless Backup:

1 Agentless-backup does not currently support image-based backups — only bare metal. This means the recovery time can be a bit longer. Of course, this might not be a problem for your less critical systems, or if your organization has a longer Recovery Time Objective (RTO).

2. Network usage will be higher with an agentless backup solution than with an agent-based configuration, because the system’s regular scanning for changes in your data (which it will automatically back up) happens over the network.

As I hope I’ve made clear in this and my previous post, most small and large networks could benefit from using both agentless and agent-based technologies in different circumstances.When you find that perfect solution for your business, make sure you have the freedom to grow your backup environment with agentless and agent-based backup.

KeepItSafe offers both — and we make sure that our clients are implementing the right technology in the correct places. The freedom to use one solution or both will make things a lot easier for your business, and your IT team, in the ever-evolving corporate backup game.


Patrick Rougeau

Technical Sales Engineer, KeepItSafe

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