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  1. #1
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    Hello,

    I have a shiny new HP ML370 G6 running 64bit 2008 R2. This unit has 8-146gb hard drives with two in a RAID 1 on the internal controller for the OS and the other six in RAID volume on an added controller for data.

    This unit acts as a Domain Controller and has SQL 2008 standard installed with an Electronic Medical Record running on the SQL server. It also acts as the application server and is used for file sharing.

    I know how long it took to setup this thing up and although it has a huge amount of redundancy built into the hardware, It is still a lot of stuff running on a single box. The facility really does not have the budget to spend another $15,000 to setup a second DC and SQL server for redundancy. I am looking for some way to image this setup so I could do a bare-metal restore in a couple of hours or less.

    I originally wanted to run this whole thing on virtual machines within this box as this makes the whole backup and restore process much easier, however, the software vendor will not support their product run in a virtual environment.


    I am currently using backup exec 12.5 for file backup and am backing up system state with it, however, I would still have to install the server OS and any other programs such as SQL 2008, etc and would be looking at a good 6-8 hours of downtime if everything went perfectly which it never does.

    Does anyone here have any suggestions of a good solution for a bare metal backup that can restore in a minimal amount of time?

  2. #2
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    Have a look at this BackupAssist Windows Server 2008 PDF. Bare Metal Restore is covered on pp 10-13
    BATcher

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  3. #3
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    That looks interesting and may cover what I need.

    I guess I am trying to understand how imaging software would treat my 6 drive RAID5 volume and what would happen if I tried to restore it on a 1TB single drive in a workstation in an emergency situation.

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    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    I would think you could only do a bare-metal restore to the same/highly similar configuration you had earlier. Think of the chipset and other hardware-specific drivers, for example!
    BATcher

    Time prevents everything happening all at once...

  5. #5
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    My biggest questions is can I image a RAID array?

    The array size is around 735gb so if it is seen as one drive by the imaging software I should be able to image it to a 1TB drive, I just can't quite get my head around how a drive image program would 'see' this type of volume.


    I very well understand the disimilar hardware issue and I really shouldn't have asked the question that way.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator BATcher's Avatar
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    I back up user files and do an Image (VSS) backup of the C: drive all to a RAIDed NAS drive. The Windows Server 2008 (64-bit) has four RAID-5 drives (if I remember correctly), partitioned as C: and D:.

    You may want to put the question to the BackupAssist v5 forum, where you are almost guaranteed to get a reply from one of their techies. Their customer service is, in teen-speak, "awesome", or, to most people, "extremely good"...
    You'll probably have to register to post, not surprisingly.
    BATcher

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  7. #7
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    Thanks so much for the information. I think I will fire up Server 2008 r2's built in backup and image mine. I can then see how it works and what the image looks like.

    Not sure how I would do a test restore with this but will cross that bridge later.

    The way I understand the documentation on BackupAssist is that it actually uses the core of NTbackup and adds functionality so I should be able to test with what is there to see if the image works as expected.

    Thanks again for your time in pointing me to those links and explaining it in a way I can understand.

  8. #8
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    If the RAID is done in hardware you only need the files and meta data, which Backup Exec does for you. If the RAID is in software (Windows) you are asking for trouble and will spend even longer recovering your hardware.

    Backup Exec will do everything you need as long as you can load Windows on the replacement box - about 1 hour - so you are still stuck with a restore time of 1 day by the time you load everything and test.

    Is this box the only domain controller? If so you can safely restore it, if not you cannot restore it from image without upsetting the other DCs. DCs across two or 3 boxes is always a good idea.

    To backup the roles on the server you can use a few batch files and pick up the various configs - e.g. file shares are just a registry key and a disk location. Let me know if you want more details.

    cheers, Paul

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    RAID is in hardware. I have Backup Exec doing system state but have no way to test a bare metal restore as I do not have like hardware to play with. I have much more experience with Linux servers (and this location was a SAMBA domain until a few months ago.) I can backup linux and be live with a new machine in 15 minutes or less.

    I have imaged the server with the built in Server 2008 R2 backup. I understand that it is possible to mount that backup in a virtual machine and want to look at this angle for quick restoration of services. This is a nursing home and all their med orders are on that system. If it goes down, it is critical that I can have access in less then a day.

  10. #10
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    If you can mount the image in a virtual machine you can use pretty much any hardware with Windows 2008. You can safely ignore the vendor's warning about virtual hardware unless the software needs to talk to an add-in card.


    cheers, Paul

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    Hi,

    Just an update.

    So far I have been unable to directly boot mounted Windows Server 2008 R2's backup .vhd files in either VMware player or Virtual PC 2007 sp1. I can attach them as hard drives in the virtual machines and the full size of the volumes are recognized (even though the actual file size is much smaller). When I try to boot the virtual machine I go directly into the PXE boot screen. When I cancel PXE boot, I get the "No operating system found on boot device" error.

    It seems like this could be any number of problems such as; file permissions locked, unable to run the 64bit OS in my WinXP 32bit environment, the backup does not actually do a true image but pulls some things from the rescue DVD, etc..

    Has anybody else played with this and got it to work successfully?

    I think my next task will be to try a test restore onto a VM. This would also fill the requirements if the image will restore to virtualized hardware as I could have VMware player preinstalled on a workstation and only do an image restore and then bring the data up to date with current backups which I think could be done in the previously stated 2hr window.

    (my thought is that I will use backup exec to do daily data and system state backups and either run an image weekly, or each time I install an update which changes the OS or the installed programs)


    Thanks to P T and BATcher for your thoughts on this so far....

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by P T View Post
    You can safely ignore the vendor's warning about virtual hardware unless the software needs to talk to an add-in card.

    cheers, Paul
    The vendor's warning is that there will be issues with speed and performance. I think they have not tested and are not willing to spend the hours to assure themselves that they can support it. I understand their issue as it brings in an exponentially greater number of possible points of failure, however, I am willing to use it this way in a temporary setup for emergency restore (If I can get the blamed thing to work).

    If I find a solution that works, I will post back my procedure. I think there are quite a few small to mid size businesses that cannot afford two fully licensed servers for their domain, but would benefit from a procedure that could quickly return them to service in case of full server failure for a "reasonable" investment.

  13. #13
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    As the OS is 64bit you cannot run it in VMware unless you have set it up specifically - I assume you have.

    If it will not boot it's probably because you haven't got the boot partition in your VM - 2008 R2 (aka Windows 7 server) usually has a small boot partition as the first on the disk. I am currently wrestling with one in an attempt to clone 12 servers for a roll out at work - I'll let you know if I succeed.

    cheers, Paul

  14. #14
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    As the OS is 64bit you cannot run it in VMware unless you have set it up specifically - I assume you have.
    Yep

    If it will not boot it's probably because you haven't got the boot partition in your VM - 2008 R2 (aka Windows 7 server) usually has a small boot partition as the first on the disk.
    I need to think about this. I think this could be the problem but don't know what it would look like in VM. I wonder if I would actually restore the image on the VM using the server install disk if it would work.

    I would be thinking of setting up a high end workstation with Windows 7 or xp. This machine would be someone's production machine. I would have a couple of extra large drives in it and would push my image backups to one of these drives over the network. I would have VMware installed and could do a restore directly from the backup drive. (got to get it all working first though)

    This should still put me in the 2hr window that I have set for myself although it would be even quicker if I could just attach the images and boot the VM.

  15. #15
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    I'll let you know if I succeed.
    this is kind of a back burner research and development project for me right now, but if I figure it out I will also post back.

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