bare metal restores? get back up an running faster?

I've run into 2 new clients in the last 2 weeks that had server hard drive failures and we had to rebuild their machines using their restore CD and then restore the data that they fortunately backed up.  A straigtforward process, but time consuming - install the OS from the CD, load all the patches that have come out since the CD was made, install drivers for hardware that wasn't on the CD (I would think Dell would build in their drivers on the restore CD without needing the driver CD seperately?!), install the backup software then restore the backup....

It's getting tiresome.  Nd you have people in the office waiting to get back up and running.

Is there a way to do a backup so we can do a 'bare metal' restore, I think it's called - I envision booting from a CD / floppy, deal with the drivers for the RAID controller, and simply restore the backup media to the hard drive, reboot and you are back to the time the backup was made.  Is that possible?  I think that's what ghost can do, at least for XP - not SBS?  Any others?  Will ghost or others work with hardware raid?  I keep reading how you have to do what I've been doing - reinstall the OS, install the backup app then restore from the backup media...  that takes time.
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Murat RaymondCIOCommented:
Do a Shadow Copy of the entire System and Create an emergency repair disk. That is the fastest way.
I used Disk image software like 'Acronis True Image' to restore a system disk saved on a bigger server disk.
While relying on daily backups for the data.

Of course Symantec has the trademarked Bare Metal Restore™, so why search further.
I don't know how much your clients lose on being down for the day, if it runs into the thousands, you may want to consider a hosted inline backup solution.  I've done this with a couple of my customers, to where the data they need to continue running the operation is mirrored offsite, and if something went wrong, the employees all connected to the offsite servers via Terminal Services, where they find all their applications there, with their info, as if the server were still up.  One of my clients has calculated that it costs him over $20,000.00 a day to be down, so when I came up with a solution that cost 25K in Hardware & software, plus $500.00 a month for hosting, he didn't blink, just said, Do It.
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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Probably the BEST way to keep from this is to get your clients to have the proper storage hardware to begin with.  I will only deploy a Small Business Server with a RAID 5 array which virtually eliminates the need for a bare metal restore unless there is some kind of catastrophic issue (fire, etc.).

There are MANY RAID 5 options, some with hot-swappable hard drives that you can replace while the server is still running -- no data loss.

These can be a bit pricey... but they compare quite equally to something like Acronis True Image or CA's new Business Protection Suite (  However the savings comes in to play by not having to manage the additional backup procedures.

Good Point Jeff, The only thing that has ever taken out any of my clients' RAID5 Arrays are hurricanes, but that's a once in 10 years type of problem.  However, with those types of catastrophies being a bit TOO common place here in S. Florida, I tend to think a bit more about Catastrophic events.
LookingForITHelpAuthor Commented:
Jeff:  One of these problems was from a hard drive failure as part of hardware raid on a dell workstation...  dell came out, replaced the drive and when they installed the new drive, somehow corrupted the good drive.  the client called me to pick up the pieces.  the dell tech said that happens sometimes.  a) does that sound legit and b) could that happen when replacing the failed drive on a raid 5 system?

Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Sounds like it wasn't a RAID5, but rather a RAID0 or RAID1 (which only uses 2 drives) a RAID5 uses a minimum of 3 drives.

LookingForITHelpAuthor Commented:
Sorry, I meant to say RAID 1.  I thought best practices was raid 1 / raid 1 is 'better' than raid 5.  RAID 1 is less cost effective (you need 100% more drive space than what's usable) but better overall? I'm trying to think of statisitcs - which is more robust - 3 (or more) where if 2 fail at the same time, you are out of luck vs. 2 drives where 2 have to fail to be in trouble.  The more drives in the raid 5, the higher the chance that any 2 would fail at the same time?

Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Take a look at this overview of RAID Arrays:
and this:

You need to better understand how they work.  It sounds like you are confusing a RAID 5 with a RAID 0.

RAID 5 is a STRIPED array... meaning that the data exists redundantly (more than once) throughout the array of disks... essentially if you had a 5 disk RAID 5 and for some very strange reason lost 2 at the same time, you would most likely still have ALL of your data.  So your concerns are really moot.

Quick question: Do you have access to the Direct Action Pack from Microsoft?
This would give you access to the Preinstall kit that can be used to ghost to new hardware. This would at least get you to the point of just installed when ghosted onto the hardware. You tehn need to update to the same level of patches and hotfixes as the last backup.

Alternatively, use ghost when you have finished setting up the server, ghost it to a hard drive or dvd and then if the server goes down, all you have to do is recover from the ghost image, update to the same patch level and then recover from your backup solution.


Basically with RAID 0, if any drive fails in the array, the whole array is shot.  The only reason to use RAID 0 it to increase performance.  You need a miniumum of 2 Drives for RAID 0.

RAID 1, Mirrors 1 drive to another, so you lose all of the storage space of one drive, if the main drive goes, then you boot off the other, but sometimes a corruption from one, will propegate to the other.  When handled by Hardware, RAID 1 really makes no difference in performance. You need a miniumum of 2 Drives for RAID 1.

RAID 5, Splits the info up, then stores it in 2 or more drives (depending on the number of drives), then stores Parity info on a 3rd drive.  So you need at least 3 hard drives to do this.  A good analogy is if drive 1 holds a 1 and drive 2 holds a 0, then the Parity would be 1 (1+0=1), knowing this formula, if one number is missing (say a drive dies), you can always rebuild the number from the one that died as long as you have the other 2.  RAID 5 generally loses about a third of the array's space to the Parity calculations that provide redundancy.  Since RAID 5 is almost never used as a Boot Drive, you generally don't have some of the corruption issues that you have with Boot Disks, (that are usually on RAID 1 Arrays).  Since Parity has to be calculated when WRITING information, RAID 5 has the slowest write speed out of all forms of RAID and REALLY should be handles by additional hardware, instead of software RAID, however, READ speed is almost just as fast as RAID 0. You need a miniumum of 3 Drives for RAID 5.

RAID 10, Expands the RAID 0 Concept by Mirroring the Array for performance AND redundancy.  It's basically taking 2 RAID 0 array's and mirroring them, only problem is that you lose all of the storage space of the second array, however, if you have a high availability server that also needs to be high performance, this is the best (and most expensive) way to go.  You need a miniumum of 4 Drives for RAID 10.

RAID 50, is for those that are DEATHLY afraid of losing Data, it basically takes 2 RAID 5 Arrays and Stripes them accross 2 sets.  One drive in EACH array would have to fail in order to lose data.  You need a miniumum of 6 Drives for RAID 50.

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LookingForITHelpAuthor Commented:
Jeff - I may not be clear when I type, but do understand raid 5.  and from your link to wikipedia:  In RAID 5, where there is a single parity block per stripe, the failure of a second drive results in total data loss

I hadn't heard of more than 1 parity block before.  Interesting.  I suppose you use that?  How many parity blocks do you use?

Under the 'standard' config of raid 5, I think I have to disagree with your quote:

essentially if you had a 5 disk RAID 5 and for some very strange reason lost 2 at the same time, you would most likely still have ALL of your data.  So your concerns are really moot.

I am thinking if you lose 2 of those five drives, you are SOL.  Others have a thought on that?
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
You know... it all depends on the client and their needs.  Personally, I'm comfortable with a 5-disk RAID 5.  But I run full back-ups every night and keep one off-site every other day.  Plus, I then auto-upload accounting data to another off-site server every night.

That works for me and most of my clients... so I don't tend to venture any further in the realm of RAID arrays.

LookingForITHelp, in a RAID 5 Array, only 1 drive may fail, and keep in mind that if you have to have 50% additional space for Parity, so if you have 5 disks, only 3 1/2 is used to hold Data, the other 1 1/2 are used for Parity.  In a RAID 6 Array, the Parity is distributed accross all drives, so if you have 6 or more drives, you can tolerate more than 1 drive failing, (same with RAID5+1, but RAID 6 Scales better).

There is a fairly new technology now though called RAIDn.  RAIDn uses distributed Parity like RAID6, but the algorithm uses a compression technique that allows for a 50% smaller Parity footprint.  The advantage is that if you were to let's say have 9 drives on a RAID 5 or 6 Array, you would have the equivalent 6 drives of storage space.  However, with RAIDn, you would have the equivalent of 7 drives of storage space, because of the tighter storage of Parity.  However, you would be limited to 2 drives failing.  Theoretically, you could have up to 3 drives fail, but if the drives were maxed out in storage, realistically, the max that could fail without losing data is 2.
Hi there,

I think having read all the comments there is a definite need on your servers for Raid 5 - I would agree wiht Techsoeasy that raid 5 without a doubt is essential, unless you are using something like sql and stuff where there is a different setup.

however on another note have bare metal or disaster recovery is also quite important with the amount of configuration that goes into servers today having just your data backed can mean a good two days work trying to recover not just from hard disk failures but from software corruptions or virus attacks or even just microsoft getting it wrong with an update.

I am currently looking into bare metal as I think it is becoming much more important to be able to recover the windows build and software as quickly as possible, some I am looking at are Acronis True server for windows and also symantec live state recovery, along with veritas backup and arcserve backup (as these both have full DR solutions)

I hear you though on the two day thing I have done many of them myself. Only one very recently.

Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
I've just started testing Storagecraft's ShadowProtect IT edition ( which provides a rather easy way to accomplish bare metal restores.  The ShadowProtect Server edition will be out later this month at $699.00.

LookingForITHelpAuthor Commented:
I'm experimenting with Acronis True Image (after years of using ghost).  Between these 2 for desktops / servers, ATI is the way to go.  I'm not familiar with shadowprotect, but ATI's server version is also hundreds of dollars / $1K.  At a recent meeting I was at, other techs were lamenting how the client will spend hundreds for SBS and all its bells and whistles....  and then need to spend another roughly same amount for the slim (infrequent?) need to do a quick restore of the OS capability?!
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
Well, you're right about that!  But generally it needs to be presented to the client at the time they are buying the server in order for them to understand that you can't buy one without the other.

LookingForITHelpAuthor Commented:

I think in previous threads you've been comfortable recommending the (free / included) SBS backup rather than another (paid) app for backups.  is that view starting to change? And you're liking these imaging apps rather than file backup apps?
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasyPrincipal ConsultantCommented:
No, it's not starting to change at all... for my clients, I recommend that their backup procedure include a minimum of THREE USB Hard drives.  Considering that I also recommend that they use the 1.5" drives, a 100GB drive will cost around $200.00, so it's still a $600.00 additional cost --- the same price as SBS Standard!

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