Best Way To Properly Test Backups?

Posted on 2006-06-06
Last Modified: 2012-05-05
We have a small business server 2003 setup using veritas backup exec to backup to tape. We have done a redirected restore to verify that the data files have been backing up properly. What is the best way to test that we could do a bare-metal restore if needed? We don't have identical hardware etc and I don't want to test this on our production server.

Question by:bkrosco
    LVL 74

    Expert Comment

    by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
    The only way to fully test a bare metal restore is with hardware that is mostly identical... per these items:

    • SCSI controller. You can restore to a computer that has an IDE controller if the original computer had SCSI.
    • Motherboard chip set.
    • Number of processors.
    • Hard disk size. The new computer’s hard disk should contain matching volumes the same size or larger than those on the original computer.
    • Drive letter of the boot partition.

    Full details are here:

    You may also want to listen to these SBS Show Podcasts regarding disaster recovery:

    I would question though, your disaster recovery strategy... if you feel the a bare metal restore may be necessary but lack the hardware to do it on, what's the point?  As long as you verify that your backup volumes are not corrupt by randomly restoring a few files from each one to test, then you have your data and can restore as necessary.  

    You may want to create a disaster recovery plan using this tool:

    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    So, there's no other way?

    The point is that if something goes belly up with the OS that I will be able to do a proper restore. It's easy enough to redirect the data to a different location to test that. That we have done. If the restore of the OS doesn't work properly it will just take that much longer to get things back to normal. Therefore, I'd like to try to prevent that from happening if possible. That said, we are a small business and have only the one server.

    Any other thoughts?
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    I guess I was thinking that maybe there would be a equivelant to the windows XP repair install where even if the drivers aren't an exact match, you can do the restore and then just do a repair install over the top.

    Something like that anyway.

    I really wish there was a good way to test other than buying two identical servers. No, I'm not into virtualization either.
    LVL 1

    Author Comment

    What about something similar to this:

    It's a Windows 2000 server document but if I could do something similar for Server 2003 I think that would be everything I need.

    LVL 74

    Accepted Solution

    It's interesting that you mentioned that you weren't into virtualization, because that was what I was going to recommend... as it's definitely a great way to go.

    The article you listed above could possibly work for Server 2003, but you will have problems with SBS 2003 because of the combination of Exchange Server in the scenario.  You can certainly try it though and see if it works.

    The other way that you can achieve a recovery to different hardware is by using an imaging program such as Symantec LiveState Recovery, StorageCraft's ExactState, or Acronis TrueImage.  These would bring you back to the latest image and then you can restore the most recent backup on top of that.


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