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Bare metal recovery with Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery  (Windows 2008)


Other bare metal recovery pages you might like to reference

Unlike my other Bare Metal experiences, this is the fastest, shortest and best experience I could have ever hoped for. Here I am using Backup Exec System Recovery (Previously called Live State recovery) and Volume Shadow Copy onto USB attached backup drives. I have tried other products like Shadow Protect but always had issues with the AD and Network settings.  I settled on BESR for all my SBS 2008 clients and it works very well.


BESR's disk imaging essentially clones a hard disk by copying it's data sector by sector, allowing you to restore an entire system to an empty hard disk.

BESR uses a simple wizard-driven interface that you can use to create disk images (Symantec calls these "recovery points", though they're not to be confused with "restore points" used by the Windows System Restore feature). You can save a BESR recovery point to almost any medium you want, as long as it's not tape (Use Backup Exec for Tape). Options include external hard drives, network storage like NAS and SAN or writeable optical media like a DVD-R. I use USB external Seagate freeagent Go drives. Small and fast. Easy to carry. (If you use multiple drives, one for each day, you do have to change the drive's disk signature but I will have more on that another time).

You can create your recovery points manually or set up an automatic backup schedule instead. BESR supports two kinds of recovery points — base and incremental; you use the latter type to store changes to a system that have occurred since the time you made the base recovery point, and you can create them as often as once per hour. BESR can tie the creation of incremental recovery points to specific system events (like when an application is installed) and also periodically consolidate them to simplify restores. I use base recovery points daily (Say at 2 am) and then hourly incremental's during the working hours). The Job Wizard lets you choose the type of recovery point you want to create — base or base with incremental.

If you need to recover from a relatively minor mishap, such as deleted or overwritten data, a recover wizard lets you browse the contents of a recovery point to selectively recover individual files or folders. You can also mount an entire recovery point as a drive letter on your system.


The process was to boot up with one of the CD disks from the BESR disk set, plug in the last backup, restore, reboot and start using the server. It was that simple.


Ok, here are more details. I wrote the above line to highlight how simple it really was. Here's a bigger explanation.

The product's bootable CD includes Microsoft's Windows PE (Preinstallation Environment), and it can auto-detect most storage , e.g. RAID, and network hardware. When you boot a system with the CD, it automatically starts a special mode of BESR from which you can locate and select recovery points for restoration.  Since the CD installs a host of appropriate device drivers, you can easily access restore points stored on external devices (like a USB hard drive) or network servers. You accept the Symantec agreement, select the drives to recover (Single or multiple drives), choose the destination drive, select the drive to be marked active, read the summary and select to reboot after it is finished.


When it is finished the computer will reboot into the state of the last good recovery point. During boot, Windows plug-and-play will run detecting non-critical device and peripheral drivers. When plug-and-play has completed check the device manager and install any additional drivers necessary to complete the process.


My restore went very well and everything worked. Even Exchange and SQL. It went really well and very fast as my restore went back onto the same hardware.

Normally when restoring a disk image it's best to do it on either the same, or an identically configured, system otherwise Windows will need to identify and load drivers for new hardware. This process is at best time-consuming and at worst can lead to blue screens or other errors that prevent a successful restore.

BESR offers a new feature called Restore Anywhere that lets you recover a system to a completely different machine. This means you can use BESR not only to restore failed systems, but to migrate your servers to newer hardware as well. You can even restore recovery points directly to virtual machines you create in VMware products like VMware Server or Workstation.


The only pitfall to watch out for is Windows Activation. If you move to new hardware, you may need to reactivate Windows.


Final comment: It restored, it ran, no failures, I moved on.







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                                                             This page was written and designed by Michael Jenkin 2011 © (Best viewed at 1024 x 768)