How to upgrade Backup Exec – guidelines, best practices and available support

How to upgrade Backup Exec – guidelines, best practices and available support

Article: 100044375
Last Published: 2021-05-10
Ratings: 14 27
Product(s): Backup Exec


This article provides guidance for upgrading older versions of Backup Exec and deciding when to retire Backup Exec installations that are no longer supported in favour of starting with a fresh installation of the most recent release.  It also outlines what support opportunities are available and provides recommendations on situations that require a consultant as opposed to opening a case with Technical Support.

Veritas recommends that customers use the most current version of Backup Exec because:

  • Current operating system, application and hardware support is available
  • Veritas provides timely solutions for new security vulnerabilities
  • Full on-going support is available
  • Keeping Backup Exec  up-to-date fosters the same standards for all elements of the IT environment and thus encourages regular IT system refreshes that can increase reliability and performance

Upgrading Backup Exec Best Practices

When considering an upgrade:

  • Check the Backup Exec compatibility lists carefully, not just against the Backup Exec server itself, also make sure the elements of the environment that need to be backed up are compatible.  The Backup Exec Master Compatibility list is available at
  • Plan to upgrade any unsupported systems, prior to (or along with) upgrading Backup Exec.  If operating systems or applications cannot be upgraded, customers may need to consider using the server running the older version of Backup Exec only to protect the older systems (without any on‑going support from Veritas) and use a new Backup Exec installation to protect systems that remain supported by the current Backup Exec version and the OS/application vendor.
  • Only versions of Backup Exec that support a direct upgrade to the most current version should be considered for upgrade.  At the time of this publication that includes upgrading Backup Exec 2014, 15 and 16 to Backup Exec 20.  Older versions of Backup Exec, including 2010 and 2012, should be used only for restores and should not be upgraded; rather a new installation of Backup Exec should be used to protect the network environment.
  • Always plan to upgrade to the most current version of Backup Exec.  If this is not possible, the upgrade version MUST still be in Standard Support.  End of Standard Support and End of Support Life dates are available in Product EOSL.  Support for versions past the End of Standard Support date require an Extended Technical Support contract in addition to an active Maintenance Agreement.
  • Review your on-going license requirements and consider cross-grading to another licensing edition.  For many customers, it may be less expensive to move to Bronze, Silver or Gold capacity editions than maintaining the older à la carte licensing (also known as Custom Edition).  Licensing edition details can be found in the Backup Exec Licensing Guide.  Ask your sales or renewals partner for a quote for cross-grading to the newer licensing model.
  • For performance, capacity and reliability  reasons, consider updating any backup storage hardware (old tape devices, old disk systems)

In addition to the above considerations, upgrading Backup Exec may also include:

  • Upgrading the Backup Exec server hardware
  • Upgrading the Operating System of the Backup Exec server to maintain support and updates from Microsoft

Changing the Backup Exec server hardware and/or Operating System requires a migration of Backup Exec that includes backing up and (if possible) documenting the existing Backup Exec Configuration, installing Backup Exec on the changed server and then recovering the Backup Exec configuration, database and catalogues.  It is recommended to install the same version of Backup Exec on the new hardware/OS as the old Backup Exec server, migrating the Backup exec configuration and then upgrade to the most current release of Backup Exec.  This scenario also applies to the Backup Exec appliances which reach End of Support Life on November 7, 2019.  For more information about migrating Backup Exec to new hardware, please refer: How to use the Backup Exec Appliance "Exchange" program.  This article provides information about the Backup Exec appliances and links to several articles about migrating an existing Backup Exec installation to new hardware/OS.

When upgrading Backup Exec, also seriously consider replacing outdated storage devices and media:

  • The reliability, capacity and performance of storage devices used for backup and restore operations is critical to the protection and recovery of IT systems.  Older (obsolete) storage devices (especially older devices with mechanical operations such as tape libraries and drives) are more prone to failure due to their age.
  • Storage devices and media (such as tapes) have both mechanical elements and magnetic/electrical mechanisms that have recommended lifetimes.  Storage devices and media should be periodically refreshed, particularly if this refresh includes a technology change that also has performance and capacity benefits.  For information on the recommended lifetimes of tape media (and possibly devices) please review the information provided by the manufactures.

For guidelines and step-by-step instructions to upgrade Backup Exec 2014, 15, or 16 to Backup Exec 20, please refer: Key information and guidelines for Backup Exec upgrades

Upgrade Scenarios That Should Be Avoided

Upgrade scenarios that should be avoided are:

  • Upgrading a 32-bit installation to 64-bit installation
  • Upgrading from a Backup Exe version that is too old to support a direct upgrade.  This includes upgrading from Backup Exec 2012, 2010 and older.
  • Any upgrade plans that require installing an interim Backup Exec version prior to upgrading to the most current release.

These upgrade scenarios should be avoided because they increase the complexity of the upgrade process:

  • Due to the increased complexity, there is a greater chance of problems being introduced that affect the reliability of Backup Exec after the upgrade
  • Due to the increased complexity the time required to complete the upgrade may be considerably longer and involve more personnel.
  • Veritas Engineering teams do not officially test multi-stage upgrades so we cannot document or predict the nature of any problems that may be experienced

If the Backup Exec upgrade being considered includes scenarios that should be avoided, Veritas recommends that:

  • The old Backup Exec server, storage devices and media should be mothballed (decommissioned but left intact to allow restores of older data)
  • New server hardware, storage devices and media should be purchased for a clean Backup Exec installation to the latest version

Planning to decommission and retain the existing Backup Exec server has benefits:

  • The new server can be built and tested before decommissioning the old one
  • Admin staff can be trained and become familiar with any differences
  • A rolling migration of remote systems protected by the Backup Exec server can be performed, which can be very useful for larger environments or those where one or two servers would be unsupported after the upgrade
  • The rollback or backout plan for any change control process is simpler
  • Backup data from the older system can still be restored (possibly as a redirection).  Note: If systems and applications protected by Backup Exec have also been upgraded then there may be limitations on restores that would apply equally to the new server
  • Issues and problems present in the old system are not migrated to the new system
  • It is possible to move to newer, higher capacity and faster, storage devices without  concerns about media compatibility for restores of older data (for example, early LTO tape standards cannot be read by the newest LTO drives)

Technical Support Options and Limitations

Veritas Technical Support will research and assist with Backup Exec upgrades that follow the recommendations provided above, including upgrading from Backup Exec versions that have passed the End of Support Life (Backup Exec 2014) or End of Standard Support (Backup Exec 15).  Reasonable efforts assistance may be applied to issues arising from the continued use of older storage devices and media.

Assistance will NOT be provided for upgrades that would be considered as scenarios that should be avoided and customers should either follow the recommendation of mothballing their existing Backup Exec server or engage with a consultancy partner to discuss options.

Refer to following article for step by step instructions on upgrading Backup Exec:

Step by Step Upgrade from Backup Exec 2014 onwards to Backup Exec 20.x and above


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