Off Site disaster recovery planning

Posted on 2004-11-27
Last Modified: 2010-04-14

I'm trying to put together a disaster recovery plan for my company. I have been doing research on this site and using several resources to put a plan together. I am familiar with the basics of disaster recovery preparation like maintaining off site tape backup storage, doing nightly backups etc.  We currently signed a SLA with an off site disaster recovery center that we can use in case of a major disaster.  i.e. this off-site location will provide us with 50 phones 30 desktop computers 40 desks  and at T1 Internet connection.

We recently purchased a new Dell windows 2003 server which we would like to make a cold off site server that we can use  at the off site recovery center in case of an disaster.  On site we are running a windows 2000 domain with one windows 2000 pdc. I am using veritas back up exec to do nightly full backups of the system state,IIS, shared folders, some 3rd party applications and a 3rd party email hosting program.    I made the new windows 2003 server a backup domain controller(bdc) in the current domain and active directory is replicating to it.  Ideally I want to disconnect this BDC windows 2003 server from the on site network and take it to off site location.  Then I want to be able to use the tape backup of the windows 2000 PDC and restore it to the server at the off site location to restore/update active directory, user accounts, applications, IIS and email etc.

The questions I have are as follows:

1)First what is the proper way to disconnect the BDC server? I'm sure I could just turn it off, but will that affect any users on my network?  At the very least should I have them reboot their pc's after I disconnect the bdc so they authenticate against the pdc?  

2) the windows 2000 pdc server and windows 2003 bdc are two different server hardware models but I basically would need to be able to mirror them from tape backup.  Would restoring the system state to the windows 2003 server from a tape backup of the windows 2000 server work? i.e. would the user accounts, AD and shared folders be copied over.  I presume overwriting the system state from a tape backup would make the windows 2003 server a PDC instead of a BDC.

Question by:bboy77
    LVL 15

    Accepted Solution

    Your idea isn't gonna fly.

    If you remove a DC (DC, not PDC or BDC as w2k and up doesn't have them) from a domain, its credentials will expire in 60 days, making it unable to replicate changes on the domain. In the meantime you will get multiple errors in the event log.

    The hardware issue can be overcome by veritas - check their support on restoring to a new platform.

    The problem is more that one server is 2000, and one is 2003. In order to completely restore from backup you need to install 2000 with the same service packs and hotfixes as the original, then restore data, then restore active directory and the system state. THIS WILL WIPE YOUR NICE NEW SERVER ANYWAY.  You will then have the old server running are the remote site, just like it was at the time of the last backup.

    You have to ask yourself if this is really what you want. It takes 4 - 12 hours to fully recover a server via this method. Best idea is to tape the backup of the main server, then do a test restore to the new one in a lab (make sure you're not conencted to the domain!) You can then decide, yes, it's successful, in which case you can pre-position the server by installing W2k, Veritas (In a different folder than the main server! This is dead important!) service packs et al. DO NOT dcpromo it. You want a vanilla server that you can just whack the tape in and start the restore ASAP just like you did in the lab... You're basically going to mothball the server in a state that it can resume the recovery from tape in minutes, not hours.

    But you need to read up on restoring to new hardware - this is going to be your challenge.
    LVL 2

    Author Comment

    Thanks for the info.  I plan to upgrade the windows 2000 server to windows 2003 and then during a disater restore from tape media to a windows 2003 server stored off site. similar to this article.

    I do have veritas installed and will read up on restoring to different hardware.

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