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Bare metal recovery with Symantec Backup Exec IDR (SBS 2003)



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After having performed bare metal recoveries from Symantec Backup Exec and backup tapes, I thought it was time to look at using IDR. (Intelligent Disaster Recovery ).    


Up until SBS 2008, I had almost always sold the SBS version of the Symantec Backup Exec product. I had put this with tape units and found it covered everything I needed. It does an online backup of Exchange and SQL (And maintains the Exchange logs and truncates SQL transaction logs). It copies SharePoint  and allows for a remote server and system state recovery. It does everything I need including something I never bothered with .. IDR. Yes, it is not an option in the SBS product but rather one of the features.


I had run the IDR wizard and created the DR file however never thought to keep it up to date nor bothered to test it. I knew the latest version of IDR used the Windows ASR so I knew it must be good. Just never tried it.


Now I have a server that has failed. It has a recent DR file however, I do not have the IDR boot CD disks. It is important to note that there are 5 different OS versions that require separate IDR disks created for recovery. You must make the IDR disks appropriate to your version. I had Windows SBS 2003 SP2 R2. I had no server to create the disks with and the DR file, is on the backup tape.


I bit the bullet, reinstalled SBS 2003 R2 SP2 and installed Symantec Backup and recovered the DR file from the tape. (Stored in the install path of backup exec. For me this was "D:\Program Files\Symantec\Backup Exec\idr\Data".


I then created the CD ISO image (In the Backup Exec program go to Tools - Wizards - Intelligent Disaster Recovery Preparation Wizard). All you need is the DR file and this ISO image to restore this server. Now that I have created this CD disk, I can use it to recover any SBS 2003 SP2 r2 server. I just have to remember to make the DR files however the DR files are not essential, I will explain later.


Now, boot from the CD disk. It will look for the Floppy disk with the DR file, ask you to confirm the disk partition sizes and then let you load up drivers for the tape unit. It will then ask for a specific tape that matches the DR file for the recovery. What if you do not have the tape that matches the DR file .. read on. 


If you do not have the DR file or it does not match your latest tape, you can manually configure the drive partitions and then search the tape for backup sets and achieve the same thing. You can do this without the DR file.


The automatic part of the IDR process will put the Windows, System state etc onto the hard disks. The manual part of the process will let you install the data for other programs and partitions. The process will seek the sets on the tape and ask you if you want to restore them. I got a prompt to restore set "C:\" then "D:\" then "E:\" then System state, Exchange and others.


I completed all of this and rebooted. Nothing happened. It did not boot. I then realized I needed to use the CD boot disk to get into the disk manager (Manual setup) and make the disk C: the active partition. Before I discovered this, I had tried to boot up with the SBS 2003 Disk 1 and entered into the recovery console. It could see the partitions however, the CHKDSK process told me that the disks were not NTFS or corrupted. Weird. They are indeed intact. Regardless, I am now up and running however I then learnt that the IDR restores everything except databases and this means Exchange and SQL (And SharePoint).


I rebooted into Windows. I opened the ESM (Exchange) and found the stores, marking them as over writable. I opened the Backup Exec program, selected the Information stores to be restored. I restored them.


I then ran the ESEUTIL /cc over the environment.reg file and played back the log files. The hard recovery worked and the information stores came up and mounted.


At this point, this does seem to have been a quicker and simpler recovery that my other bare metal recovery with Backup Exec. In my other experience I had to do the full reboot into the AD recovery mode and install most of the SBS components. This time was saved with the IDR.


I do have some issues, some of the files skipped in the backup or unselected for backup (As they were triggering backup failures) are now files that I need. I discovered that I did not have a C:\Windows \Temp folder (As it was unselected from my backups) and many of the files for DotNet were open and not backed up, so now I need to reinstall DotNet.


The Trend Micro OfficeScan HTTPDB folder is missing, as I do not back it up, so I have recreated it and let the database recreate. Now I need to rehook all the client PC's back into the antivirus.


Now I have a fairly functional system, without SQL databases. ISA, Wsus, SBSmonitoring, SharePoint and Trend Micro IMSS databases are all missing. I used the Backup Exec restore for the SQL databases and seem to have the ISA and Trend Micro IMSS databases back.


I do not yet have the other databases working. I am at the same point as my last notes on BareMetal recoveries. SQL seems to be my sticking point.


Once I solve this, I will be back to update this page.








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