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Backing up the server build itself, the sys partition...??? RRS feed

  • Question

  • How can I backup the server itself...??  It seems great for backing up netowrked pcs, and even shared folders etc.. but not much good at backing up itself!!

    It seems that none of the off the shelf products, like Acronis True Image, Symantec Ghost etc are capable of doing this... Im looking for a way to restore the sys parition from a backup image. 

    Ive tried taking adisk clone, of a single disk server, and saving it on a server drive used for backups, then restoring, but I got allsorts of file conflict errors...

    Is a server reinstall the only option to restore a corrupted OS?  I would imagine this would take jsut as long as a new build itself... when restoring from a backup image takes less than 5 minutes!!

    Is ther are way to do this??


    DrSoton
    Sunday, January 4, 2009 9:50 PM

Answers

  • Hello,
    with the current version of Windows Home Server there is indeed no reliable way to backup the system partition and a server reinstall the only recommended and advised recovery procedure.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Sunday, January 4, 2009 11:43 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • Hello,
    with the current version of Windows Home Server there is indeed no reliable way to backup the system partition and a server reinstall the only recommended and advised recovery procedure.
    Best greetings from Germany
    Olaf
    Sunday, January 4, 2009 11:43 PM
    Moderator
  • There is the "dd.exe" DOS tool.
    It makes an exact copy/image of a HDD, independet of the OS installed. 
    It works with HDD sectors, not files.

    Bad news:
    1. If you want an image for a 300GB HDD, it will create a 300GB file. 
    2. a bit slow

    Good news:
    You can "image" a partition only. 
    If your WHS system partition is 20GB, it would generate a 20GB file, which you can Zip/compress. 


    I am going to do that, but am still busy with setting up my WHS.
    Once I am happy with the setup, I'll try and do the backup that way.

    I have only used the Linux "dd" to create an image (of linux installations and WinXP embedded), not sure how good the DOS version is and how different WHS HDD partitioning and formatting is.

    I was wondering if I can tell WHS to install the system on a separate HDD and nothing else on the same HDD.
    In case it fails, I can simply replace it with a new HDD and the re-imaged "sys" partition.

    At the moment I have a 320GB HDD which is used for System partition and for Data.
    I do have as well 2 x 500GB for data.


    Hope this helps.

    HF
    Monday, January 5, 2009 12:03 AM
  • You should be able to use any disk imaging tool that supports win2k3 server too. The ones that support servers are usually more expensive but there may be freeware versions out there too. I would suggest imaging the entire drive and not just a partition though.


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Monday, January 5, 2009 12:36 AM
  • HomeFishing said:

    There is the "dd.exe" DOS tool.
    It makes an exact copy/image of a HDD, independet of the OS installed. 
    It works with HDD sectors, not files.

    Bad news:
    1. If you want an image for a 300GB HDD, it will create a 300GB file. 
    2. a bit slow

    Good news:
    You can "image" a partition only. 
    If your WHS system partition is 20GB, it would generate a 20GB file, which you can Zip/compress. 

    You will have to run any imaging program often (perhaps daily) in order to have any chance of being able to replace a bad system drive (because of the periodic changes it makes to the OS partition and your server will not function correctly without them).  Without a very recent image of your OS partition, you have no chance.  As Olaf said, the only supported (and most likely workable) method is Server Reinstallation.

    HomeFishing said:

    I am going to do that, but am still busy with setting up my WHS.
    Once I am happy with the setup, I'll try and do the backup that way.

    I have only used the Linux "dd" to create an image (of linux installations and WinXP embedded), not sure how good the DOS version is and how different WHS HDD partitioning and formatting is.

    I was wondering if I can tell WHS to install the system on a separate HDD and nothing else on the same HDD.

    No.

    HomeFishing said:

    In case it fails, I can simply replace it with a new HDD and the re-imaged "sys" partition.

    At the moment I have a 320GB HDD which is used for System partition and for Data.
    I do have as well 2 x 500GB for data.


    Hope this helps.

    HF



    Monday, January 5, 2009 1:05 AM
    Moderator
  • S_M_E said:

    You should be able to use any disk imaging tool that supports win2k3 server too. The ones that support servers are usually more expensive but there may be freeware versions out there too. I would suggest imaging the entire drive and not just a partition though.


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine



    That's even less likely to work than the OS partition only.  Now you are backing up tombstones that may not exist in the future (unless you never move or delete anything).
    Monday, January 5, 2009 1:07 AM
    Moderator
  • I'd imagine that many WHS boxes are pretty static, other than backups. You'd still want fairly regular images but you wouldn't have to keep them very long. While the re-install method may be the only supported procedure; that doesn't mean it's the only one that works.

    Also, if you only image the C partition and not the whole drive you'll not be able to recover from a drive failure because you won't be able to restore D too...

    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Monday, January 5, 2009 1:36 AM
  • S_M_E said:

    I'd imagine that many WHS boxes are pretty static, other than backups.
     

    That depends on how much data people add on a daily basis (me, I add TV shows and movies fairly frequently).

    S_M_E said:

    You'd still want fairly regular images but you wouldn't have to keep them very long.
     

    I agree (if there is any chance of it working at all).

    S_M_E said:

    While the re-install method may be the only supported procedure; that doesn't mean it's the only one that works.

    Also, if you only image the C partition and not the whole drive you'll not be able to recover from a drive failure because you won't be able to restore D too...


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine



    Yes, I now see what you're saying, but now you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. :)  You don't backup D, you have no tombstones (no files will work).  You backup D, you will either have tombstones that point to nothing and/or files that have no tombstones associated with them (which leaves only the files that didn't change since the last backup that might work).  I would think that the only real chance of ever getting it work would be to backup the entire primary drive at least once a day (and that's assuming you are willing to let go whatever files and folders you created/deleted on the server since the last backup).  For me, I'm not going to sit here and back up my primary drive hourly or even daily (I have better things to do than fool around with the server all the time ;)  ).  Either way, Server Reinstallation is still your best (and only supported) option.
    Monday, January 5, 2009 2:47 AM
    Moderator
  • I sometimes go a few days without adding new media or deleting old media, usually TV, but not everyone adds and deletes data constantly. Most people accept that they could lose data since the last backup. That's how the PC client backups would be too. I guess it depends on which is more important the time to reinstall and configure everything after a system drive failure or losing files since the last image. Also, most modern imaging/BU apps will now schedule images daily (or however often you want) and do them on the fly. I wouldn't want them going hourly but daily wouldn't be a big deal and every-other day would probably work for me too.

    That said, I don't image my system drive because I'm not worried about it, personally. By time my system drive fails it might be a good idea for a fresh install anyway and I wouldn't have to use the same size drive as I have now.


    "He who dares not offend cannot be honest." -- Thomas Paine
    Monday, January 5, 2009 7:11 AM