Aug 27 2009

Restore Anywhere

Backup Exec System Recovery allows for rapid disaster recovery and flexible administration of server configurations.

Backup Exec System Recovery from Symantec is designed for businesses with just a handful of servers running line-of-business applications that need maximum uptime protection. The key features of BESR are its ability to image targeted computers so that they can be quickly restored to the same hardware, to different hardware or to a virtual machine.

Restoring a broken server to different hardware or to a virtual machine using BESR’s Restore Anywhere feature is ideal for system administrators.  Not only does it allow for rapid recovery from a system failure, but for a growing enterprise, it also makes redeployment of a server to new hardware a snap.

BESR Server Edition offers complete Windows Server 2008 support for 64-bit architectures. The Granular Recovery option enables file and folder restore from a backup image. BESR also includes network drivers for backup to FTP or other network locations.

Preparing for Restore Anywhere

BESR does a complete hardware scan to start and compares against drivers on the backup image. When backing up to dissimilar hardware, you will be prompted for device drivers that are different from those on the source system. Some of this can be bypassed because video, USB and network drivers can be loaded later from the running operating system.

You need to have RAID cards prepared and logical volumes configured before beginning Restore Anywhere. BESR will format the drive when the image is written, but the volumes should be set up and sized for the new system. BESR will only use as much space on the destination drive as was used on the source. Thus, if 20 gigabytes was used on the source and the destination has a capacity of 300GB, then there will be 280GB of usable space on the new server post-recovery.

If you are performing a planned migration, make sure to empty the trash and perform a checkdisk /r to fix any issues on the source disk before creating the BESR image.

Adding Custom Drivers to System Recovery Disks

Although network, video and other extraneous drivers can be installed once the restored system is booted up on the new hardware, storage drivers cannot.

Before attempting a Restore Anywhere to new hardware, insert the BESR System Recovery disk into the destination system and run the Driver Validation feature. This checks the devices on the destination system against the driver database on the System Recovery disk.

Once you have assembled the necessary drivers, a custom System Recovery disk can be produced from the Backup Exec System Recovery console by selecting Create Recovery Disk from the Tasks menu. The wizard will identify all drivers on the system on which it is running. You can add additional drivers by selecting the Custom option from the wizard and browsing to the location of your extracted drivers.

Your drivers must be fully unpacked and include the .inf files. Many installers that come in the form of a setup.exe file can be extracted from a command line into a destination folder without actually running the setup and installing the drivers. This makes assembly of the collected drivers easy. For example, most Intel drivers can be extracted from the setup.exe by the command line, <setupfilename> /e /f <destination path>.

Performing the System Recovery

  • Boot the system with the System Recovery disk. This starts up in Windows PE environment.
  • Start networking services if recovering from a network source.
  • Console appears. Select Home > Recover My Computer. This starts the BESR Wizard.
  • View Recovery Points by Filename, not Date. Choose Date only to restore an image from the backed-up hardware. If you don’t select by file name, you will not be able to select the Restore Anywhere feature later.

Figure 1: Correct Restore Anywhere File Selection.

  • Use the browse button to find the recovery point file. Filename will look like this: computername_backuppoint_00x.v2i
  • When the recovery point file is selected, Recovery Point Details will be displayed in the wizard window. File details that will be shown or can be modified include:

Created: Date and Time
Spanned: No (for single backup image)
Computer Name: computername (of computer being restored)
Restore Anywhere: Permitted (this is your key to success)
Drive: No Label (C:) is standard
Size: Size of drive being restored, not the destination
File System: NTFS in this example
Recovery Point Description: None

  • In Drives to Recover To, select the primary hard drive of the destination computer.
  • Select drive active (for booting OS): Yes
    Restore Original Disk Signature: Off for single-partition computers — one c:\ drive. (On if you had custom drive letter mappings on an old computer; for example, additional partitions)
    Restore Master Boot Record:  On.

Figure 2: Options for Restore Anywhere to new hardware.

  • Tick the Use Restore Anywhere box. This is the crucial step that invokes the installation of drivers, etc.
  • The final step is to check your settings in the final window and to tick the Reboot when finished box. Clicking Finish invokes the recovery process.

Backup Exec System Recovery’s Restore Anywhere is an important feature of the BESR product. It enables rapid disaster recovery and flexible administration of server configurations in a small enterprise. It is flexible enough to test thoroughly so that administrators can practice using the feature before they need to.

Connor Anderson is vice president of Riverfront Technology in Clinton, Iowa.