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Windows Thread, Backuping up a server in Technical; I am thinking about our backup situation at school. We have a Win2k server with XP Pro clients. Our data ...
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    rocknrollstar's Avatar
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    Backuping up a server

    I am thinking about our backup situation at school. We have a Win2k server with XP Pro clients. Our data is backed up regularly, so I'm not worried about that.

    My only concern is that if the server went down. How do I backup all the settings like GPO policies, AD, Domain controller settings & IP addresses etc? I guess there isn't a 'save your settings' button, but if I had to rebuild it, what's the best way to do this?

    Thanks

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    SYNACK's Avatar
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    If you are using the built in windows backup it is called 'System State' this backs up the registery, AD and a bunch of the system files. You can restore this by using the DC restore option when rebooting the server after you have reinstalled it if ends up needing to be restored.

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    Definitely use the system state backup to backup the DC settings (and everything else) but it can be hard work to restore that to different hardware - there are MS KB articles which take you through the process.

    what you really, really want (!) is a second DC - that way, if one machine fails you do have a copy of the active directory data and you really, really (!!) don't want to lose that!!!!

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocknrollstar View Post
    but if I had to rebuild it, what's the best way to do this?
    We've had a couple of threads similar to this recently, so I might as well say the same thing as last time: virtualise your existing Windows 2000 server, so it runs as a virtual machine on top of <insert your favourite VM system here>. Then have that VM system replicate the virtual server in real-time to another machine, so if one goes down (or missing, or whatever) you have another one ready to instantly start up and take over.

    For a VM system, I favour Xen running on top of CentOS and using DRBD to replicate between machines, although admittedly I haven't yet tried transferring an existing Windows machine to a Xen machine (I'm trying on Monday...). Might be easier to use VMWare as I know that has a utility and documentation for virtualising existing Windows machines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocknrollstar View Post
    I am thinking about our backup situation at school. We have a Win2k server with XP Pro clients. Our data is backed up regularly, so I'm not worried about that.

    My only concern is that if the server went down. How do I backup all the settings like GPO policies, AD, Domain controller settings & IP addresses etc? I guess there isn't a 'save your settings' button, but if I had to rebuild it, what's the best way to do this?

    Thanks
    There's an option to backup all GPO settings within the GPMC. It's in a right-click menu option, google for the specifics. Individual server roles can also be backed up using various command line commands, DHCP backup is done using netsh commands from what i remember. AD-integrated DNS will be backed up along with AD in the system state.

    Agree about replicas and VM mobility as suggested by steve and dave. But any form of clustering or replication won't do anything about configuration errors or change mgmt cockups. You still want the ability to go back to a previous, working, correctly configured version of a server role. For that i'd also second the option to create a recovery disk in windows backup....that's your baseline should you ever need to do a bare metal restore.

    I personally don't think enough is written or documented about backup and recover of the core windows server and roles. I don't even think system state backup and recovery is that well understood. I also think a server OS volume is perfect for some sort of system snapshot option similar to windows system restore....if my servers were setup for Boot from SAN i'd defintely take advantage of the SAN arrays snapshotting feature to make scheduled PiT snapshots of the OS volumes. It'd just be so handy although i'd still take basline backups to removable media - there's never any substitute for a backup.

    You could also take an image of your server using ghost or current flavour of the month wim/imagex. As it involves downtime that would probably also be a baseline image only occasionally updated to keep current. Infact maybe WIM's SIS technology would help with only adding the changes to a baseline image...worth looking into as an efficient way of imaging a server.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    We've had a couple of threads similar to this recently, so I might as well say the same thing as last time: virtualise your existing Windows 2000 server, so it runs as a virtual machine on top of <insert your favourite VM system here>. Then have that VM system replicate the virtual server in real-time to another machine, so if one goes down (or missing, or whatever) you have another one ready to instantly start up and take over.

    For a VM system, I favour Xen running on top of CentOS and using DRBD to replicate between machines, although admittedly I haven't yet tried transferring an existing Windows machine to a Xen machine (I'm trying on Monday...). Might be easier to use VMWare as I know that has a utility and documentation for virtualising existing Windows machines.

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    This is not a backup though, it's redundancy.

    Delete them all from one and they go from the other too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by torledo View Post
    But any form of clustering or replication won't do anything about configuration errors or change mgmt cockups.
    But that's half the reason for running your domain controller as a virtual machine - at any point you can simply take a copy of the entire machine's state (if you're using Linux LVM as the underlying block device for your DRBD replicated devices, for instance, you can do a snapshot to take a copy, so you don't even have to stop the VM to do it). This is why I find it a good idea, for servers with user files and such, to use two or three virtual disk images per virtual machine, that way you can have the OS on a small disk volume that it's easy to take a whole-disk copy of.

    Actually, I bet it would be no real trouble to simply take a snapshot copy of your VM's OS disk every night, just appending the diffs to an incremental backup file, so you could go back to any version you liked in an instant.

    That's a point - does anyone know how encryption would affect the above? If I have a virtual disk image that I encrypt with something like dm-crypt, would that encrypted disk volume be completely different every day (i.e. a diff algorithm wouldn't be able to spot just the bits of the disk that had changed, and would require you to store a copy of the whole volume again)? Or do whole-disk encryption systems encrypt sector by sector or something? They can't rewrite the whole drive every day, that would take too much time, wouldn't it?

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    Minimal HDD size for 2003 server is around 8GB, 2008 20GB.

    The system state when backed up is 600MB.

    A local backup agent is still a good solution, VMs are not always the easiest way as you need lots of space for frequent disk images. I copy mine to a nas, occasionally but still use agents on the VMs for daily backup.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcCoy View Post
    Minimal HDD size for 2003 server is around 8GB, 2008 20GB.
    Thanks, that's good to know - I have to set a couple up come Monday.

    The system state when backed up is 600MB.
    But, day-to-day, only small sections of that whole state change, surely? You can take a snapshot of the virtual disk image, then just write the differences to your backup file.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dhicks View Post
    Thanks, that's good to know - I have to set a couple up come Monday.



    But, day-to-day, only small sections of that whole state change, surely? You can take a snapshot of the virtual disk image, then just write the differences to your backup file.

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    The problem with backing up at disk image level is it only works with that VM disk, the system state can be restored to anything (sometimes a little work required with drivers). It's going to be much easier to have many instances of system state backups than VM snapshots.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DMcCoy View Post
    The problem with backing up at disk image level is it only works with that VM disk, the system state can be restored to anything (sometimes a little work required with drivers).
    True, although I figure the point of using a VM system on one server is that you can then run the same VM system on another server and run any VM images you like on that second server.

    It's going to be much easier to have many instances of system state backups than VM snapshots.
    From a storage size point of view, I don't think it will make any difference. From a portability point of view I think the two solutions are about the same, too - sure, mounting a VM disk volume and extracting data from it is a bit fiddly on Windows (although stunningly easy on Linux), but I figure you don't really need to as you can run your VM system on a different server anyway. From an automation point of view I'd prefer VM disk images - you can back up multiple machines in exactly the same way.

    Hmm, I wonder if we're both simply looking at this from different terms of reference? I'm trying to keep my terms and such neutral, but of course when I think "virtual machine system" I'm thinking Xen on a Linux system. You're likely thinking of Windows-based servers of some kind. It seems natural to me to think of backing up data by storing diffs of VM disk images gathered by some cron job on a central server because that's the way you'd go about it on Linux. I guess Windows has a different way of looking at things.

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    Awesome, thanks for your help on this. A very useful discussion.

    I'll do a NTBackup System State backup on Monday (to a file- I hate tapes!).

    Great to have positive and helpful posters

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    It's all very well and good doing the back up to file, just make sure the file is backed up to tape as the hard disk may fail

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    Quote Originally Posted by rocknrollstar View Post
    Awesome, thanks for your help on this. A very useful discussion.
    You'd better just quickly check out the other thread about backing up a domain controller - seems there's whole whitepapers and such about how to do so in a VM environment when you have multiple DCs. Should still be pretty simple if you just have a small network with one DC, though.

    [QUOTE]I'll do a NTBackup System State backup on Monday (to a file- I hate tapes!)/QUOTE]

    Copying the file to some sort of media that's removable off-site in case the place burns down, naturally.

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    rocknrollstar's Avatar
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    Yep, I've got a few attached USB drives that I back up to...

    David - I thought that if I did the system state backup, that was effectively backing up the domain controller? We only have 1 Win2k server on the network. I'm not really sure about VM stuff to be honest. BTW- I see you a lot on the TES ICT threads- very helpful! There are some real idiots on there, so nice to have some genuinely helpful people



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