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Windows Server 2000/2003 Thread, Backup dilemma in Technical; OS = 2003 The school currently pay for off site backup but I have only had to do file restores ...
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    Backup dilemma

    OS = 2003

    The school currently pay for off site backup but I have only had to do file restores not had a complete server crash (touch wood), and I dont 100% want to rely on the off site backup.

    I have a 1tb usb drive plugged into the back of the server and the data is 200mb in size, should I

    NTbackup
    system state backup
    ASR backup
    VMware converter to capture a live image

    I can only run the backup at weekends as the off site backup starts just after school ends and runs though the night.

    Thanks for any input.

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    Gibbo's Avatar
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    I'd probably do a ROBOCOPY backup.

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    NTbackup should work nicely if you do a whole os backup it'll prompt you to also do an asr backup. To do the ASR you'll need a floppy disk. you'll also need the original install disks ready for a restore. For peace of mind I'd consider some better backup software for one server with directly attached storage It shouldn't cost to much.

    VMware converter is a nice idea although I thought you'd need an entire vsphere VMhost network in place to do that? Besides a scheduled image is better done cold rather than hot.

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    Think I will do full backups with ASR and vmware. I have done warm vmware converter backups and not had any issues. I think the main issue is with databases and services getting out of sync with the system and although this has never caused me an issue if it ever did happen I should be able to restore the database from a backup. By the way the vmware image just runs from vmware server2 installed on any client / server desktop so no vmhost network needed.

    Just to get this right in my head-
    If the server goes down I can pop the vmware image onto a desktop and limited staff (office) can still work while I am getting a new server. I then have the choice of migrating the data to the new server from the vm or doing a full restore from my backup.

    Does that make sense?

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    NTbackup should work nicely if you do a whole os backup it'll prompt you to also do an asr backup
    If I am backing up using the full os + ASR to a USB HDD does the USB HDD get included or excluded in the backup. The reason I ask is a normal backup with me selecting all the drives except the usb hdd (which has lots of data on already) takes 5 hours but doing a full backup it reported 14 hours so I hit the cancel button.

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    Be very careful with regard to snap shot type VM backups - especially if your system has more than one DC. If you have to restore from this image - you could find that the AD time stamps are out of sync and the system could block one of your replicas. I can be fixed, but its fiddly.

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    All my schools are small primary schools with only one server. Whenever I need to do a test on the server I do a vmware capture and do the test on this. I have done this hundreds of times and not had an issue although have seen plenty of posts where this did not work. I quite often do server migrations like this. For example the school have 1 server and no money for another but want the OS updated. I VM capture the system then run it on my laptop under VMware Server 2. I then wipe the old server and install the new OS making it a member of the server now running on my laptop. I can then migrate everything over.

    I have a friend that installed the new OS but before doing anything else installed VMserver2 with the old server image onto the new server and migrated from that. Its very handy if you have small schools with now money.

    I also have servers without floppy drives and for some reason ASR needs floppy's only(good one MS) but have found you can copy the ASR boot files to another folder and if all goes bad I could get hold of a usb floppy to rebuild, only problem is I cant really test it works as ASR wipes the drives on a restore.

    With the servers being very basic I could if really stuck re-build from scratch and restore the data/work files from the off-site backup. The children all logon as a class so not many users to create and they only have about 6 group policies, that I have printed out.

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    Imaging new servers that way is fine - so long as it the only server in the domain. But if you are creating additional servers for your domain it is pretty important that the machine image you clone from has been syspreped first. Otherwise the SID's get completely messed up and you will definately be in for an interesting time late on down the line ....

    The basic problem recovering a DC from an VM image is that the ADS time stamps will be out of date (compared to the system time - obtained from the BIOS normally). If the time is out by too much (serveral days I think), it can cause all sorts of problems. In a single server environment you might get away with it. In a multi-server - multi DC, you probably won't be as lucky.

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    Moving on from the VM backup chat.

    I am getting more confused over the general nt backup and have a few questions (sorry for dragging this on).

    1. ASR is used as bare metal restore and keeps a record of the hdd partition sizes. This is handy if you have total hdd failure (I have raid 5) and need to stick all new drives in or you can't boot into the OS which is also not so likely as you can run utilities from OS install media to get into the OS. Have I got this right?

    2. Any other reason I might need to do an ASR backup not covered above?

    3. If doing a full backup (ASR + system state + all files), why do lots of forums say to do system state + files and do a septate ASR backup?

    3. The off site backup is only backing up files and not system, what nt backup type would you do? (ASR, system state + files or full with ASR)

    4.Any other recommendations?

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    You could consider a commercial product like Symantec's BESR.
    It will target any disk subsytem, USB or external FTP with bare metal restore Plus has the benefits of P2V/V2P conversion and restore to dissimilar hardware.
    VMware and Hyper-V supported.
    You do not have to use it just for DR, it will happily let you define folder only backups with differential snapshots as frequently as you need.

    It costs around 260 per server, less if you order it as an OEM add on or through the Symantec Academic Licence programme.

    The starter pack includes 5 servers, 10 desktops Granular Restore for Exchange and SQL and a centralised management option.

    60 day trial so no excuse not to test it however some tools are restricted with out a valid license key.

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    If you don't have a floppy the asr files are still copied with the backup.

    Ben

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    Quote Originally Posted by chazzy2501 View Post
    To do the ASR you'll need a floppy disk.
    For floppy-less servers, you could use a virtual floppy drive.

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    Found a few answers to my questions above.

    3. If doing a full backup (ASR + system state + all files), why do lots of forums say to do system state + files and do a septate ASR backup?
    Think this is because ASR cant be scheduled. Set a schedule for normal backup with system state and do ASR manually.

    Arthur
    For floppy-less servers, you could use a virtual floppy drive.
    This would not work as you need an os to install the virtual drive. Its a catch 22 and I have now idea why MS have not got this working for USB drives. The only way to do this is with a USB floppy drive and hope that its seen as a floppy by the bios as not all are.

    m25man
    You could consider a commercial product like Symantec's BESR.R
    I will look at this and a few others but money is very tight in primary schools and they pay for off site backup.

    Backup plan
    So I am going to set a weekly schedule (Sat night) to do a full backup with system state and then once a month or so do an ASR only backup.
    Does my backup plan look ok?

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    Quote Originally Posted by edutech4schools View Post
    This would not work as you need an os to install the virtual drive. It's a catch 22 ...
    Very good point. Backups are useless if you can't restore them.

    Quote Originally Posted by edutech4schools View Post
    Think this is because ASR can't be scheduled. Set a schedule for normal backup with system state and do ASR manually.
    NTBackup actually has an undocumented command-line parameter called "asrbackup" which allows scheduled ASR backups. As shown below, this is used instead of "backup".

    Code:
    ntbackup.exe asrbackup /n "Backup inc. ASR" /d "Backup inc. ASR" /v:yes /r:no /rs:no /hc:off /m normal /j "System Backup" /l:s /f "D:\Backups\2011-01-10.bkf"
    N.B. To name the BKF file with the date & time see this post.

    I think you still need to have a blank floppy disk present in the computer at the time of the backup to prevent NTBackup from displaying invisible dialog boxes and getting stuck, but I suppose if you used a virtual floppy disk you could at least automate the whole process using a batch file?

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    Quote Originally Posted by edutech4schools View Post
    The only way to do this is with a USB floppy drive and hope that it's seen as a floppy by the bios as not all are.
    Microsoft have a list of USB floppy drives which are supported by XP/2003 during the textmode part of setup.

    It is also possible to buy USB flash drives which emulate a USB floppy drive. I have a Netac U230 which Windows "sees" as a TEAC floppy drive (PnP ID: USB\VID_0644&PID_0000).

    Some people have also had success with editing the txtsetup.oem file on their Windows discs to add support for other makes and models of USB floppy drives.

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