server disaster recovery software

What is the best software to use for a bare-metal restore of a Windows 2000 or 2003 server?  

My office is looking for a way to minimize downtime in case our primary domain controller and file server goes down.  We'd like to back up everything to external USB hard drives which can be taken offsite.  Then if the RAID dies we'd like to be able to boot off a CD, run a restore from one of the USB drives, and bring the server back up without having to reinstall the OS, reinstall apps, and reconfigure everything.

Right now we're using Veritas Backup Exec to do daily backups.  We could buy the Intelligent Disaster Recovery module, but I've heard people have had problems with it.

I've been looking at Acronis TrueImage Server.  It looks like it could do what we need.  Is this a good choice?  Is it flexible enough for different scenarios?  For instance, if the server were completely destroyed could we set up a different server and restore just the data from the disaster recovery backup set?  We probably wouldn't be able to restore the whole OS on different hardware.

Is there any other software we should consider?
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Erik BjersPrincipal Systems AdministratorCommented:
I know you can use win 2003 backup to backup to the external drives, however to do a restore you will need to install the OS with the same partitons as the origional OS and then do a full restor from the backup.  I'm currently testing this at work, and my recovery time including OS is about 2 HRS.
The "Best", (IMO) but it is expensive.

With Altiris you can create images of the servers and quickly re-deploy those images after disaster strikes. If you are looking into solutions other than imaging, its pretty hard to beat Microsoft's Back-up built into Server 2003.

Imaging solutions require that all hardware be identical if you wanted to push the image to a different server. I am not familiar with Acronis TrueImage Server. We currently use Altiris for mission critical servers and NT Back-up for others.


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Erik BjersPrincipal Systems AdministratorCommented:
I think Acronis TrueImage Server has problems with RAID arays, so may wnt to look at Altiris as avilleadmin said, or stick with Win 2003 backup.
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Acronis works no problem with raid arrays, at least with those I've used. But if used properly the Veritas IDS should also do the job fast, and then you'd have one product.
Shift-3Author Commented:
ebjers: I'm impressed that you can get Windows and all your programs installed and a full backup restored in two hours.  I'm sure it would take us at least four.  What specific problems have you experienced with TrueImage Server on RAID?

avilleadmin: Thank you for the recommendation.  Which particular Altris product has the disaster recovery functionality?  Deployment Solution?  The full Server Management Suite seems like overkill for our network.

We need someting that will work with Windows 2000, so ASR isn't an option.  Does it even support restoring from USB hard drives?

rindi: Have you had success doing bare-metal restores with Veritas IDS?
I think the Rapid-Deploy solution would be what you need. The Management Suite is what we have, but that would be overkill depending on how many servers you have.

Are you familiar with BartPE? You could boot the server from cd and then restore an image from the USB drive or network drive. I have used that in the past.
I haven't yet needed to do a restore using IDS, but i've mainly heard good of it...
Naser GabajE&P Senior Software SpecialistCommented:
If i were you, i would go for an Online backup from:

with this you will gain 2 birds with one stone, beleive me.

Shift-3Author Commented:
avilleadmin: As I see it, the main appeal of Acronis is that it can build an image without downing the server.  Does Altris have this functionality?

I do have a UBCD4Win which could be used for launching a restore.

rindi: Alex Scoble raised several concerns about IDS in his blog (  Of particular concern to me is that it's built on Microsoft ASR and thus requires floppies to work.  This seems like a poor design.

Naser72: Online backups are an idea with a lot of promise, but $3800 a year for 20 gigs is pretty steep.  Full disaster recovery sets for each server would come to a lot more than that.  I'm fairly certain management would not go for it.
Shift-3Author Commented:
I'm upping the points, as this is not a simple question.
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