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Restoring SBS2003 backups to different hardware.

Posted on 2006-07-22
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I've done a successful bare-metal restore of a busted SBS2003 - provided you have a reliable tape then it's no problem. MS's documentation taking you through it and hinting what needs fixing up by hand.

But now I need to restore to *different* hardware. The server's broke, it isn't *possible* to replace it with identical hardware, in any case we wish to take advantage of the opportunity to replace the old 1.8GHz Athlon with a dual-core Opteron coz the Athlon was getting slow...

We have a *perfect* full backup. No problems there. C-drive with all data, Information Store, and System State.

The MS document on restoring a backup to the SAME h/w says do NOT use that method if you (a) change chipset or (b) change number of CPus. Well, we're doing both! But the MS doc doesn't point to what to do instead.

This is a *basic* business requirement - there's no point *taking* bloody backups unless MS can provide a guide on how to restore it. So I assume it's in the MS pile somewhere. Anyone know where?

Failing that, anyone have a step by step guide?

Because I had nothing to use, I tried using the "same hardware" method but after successfully restoring C_drive and Sys-State, rebooting...BSOD. I had hoped to get a flurry of "New hardware found" events and to have to feed in driver disks and stuff. No such luck.

So I guess I need to selectivly restore. The data's easy. The hard part is getting the AD back. Even the Exchange store should be easy, I guess, IF we first have the AD back...

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Question by:ccomley
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by:shniz123
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Maybe I missed it but what backup/restore software are you using?
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by:ccomley
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NTBackup - as supplied by MS, as configured by the Backup tool in SBS2003 "Server Management". Which has done, quite successfully, a backup of the drives, a backup of the Information Store, and a backup of the System State.

Were I restoring this lot to an identical box, it'd be up by now!!! :-)

There MUST be a route to put this lot back then "fix" the restored system for the new hardware. It bloody ought to be documented by MS too, IMHO, it's a basic requirement for ANY backup system that you can RESTORE it, innit?
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by:shniz123
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by:shniz123
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NM I just re-read your post that link doesn't sound that helpful. I think I read something not too long ago that said Symantec has a product that will restore to dissimilar hardware and that it can read .bkf files. Might be worth looking into if it's possible.
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by:DanKoster
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I typically don't get many opportunities to practice this on servers, but I have done restores for XP Pro to different hardware.  They do bluescreen, but if you can get in safe mode and then reinstall (repair at the second prompt), you may be able to repair the hardware config and get the system up and running.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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The reason that you are having a problem is that the Hardware Abstraction Layer is different.  You can resolve this by inserting the Original CD1 of SBS and doing a repair installation.  (Essentially an in-place upgrade).  You must then reapply all of the same service packs/patches that were on the server prior to restoring.

To do the inplace upagrade:  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/816579

And a complete step-by-step how-to from Microsoft just as you had requested: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/249694  (be sure to follow the Domain Controller section).

Jeff
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by:ccomley
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Thanks - those look useful.

There are still an aweful lot of "only if X Y and Z are true" caveats in there, MS really ought to have a generic method of restoring anything to any new hardware - even if there are a few extra fiddly steps, and none of those steps need to involve being able to get at the original hardware. There's thousands of people out there. Most of them never bother to backup, sadly, but for those who DO backup, it'd be nice if there were some documented methods to restore if things go bad. :-)

I'll try the upgrade-in-place method of "fixing up" the restored server and see what happens.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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Y'know... this stuff is not that simple, and even though Microsoft and other software makers attempt to make it easier to use on a continual basis, the fact of the matter is that we're dealing with a HIGHLY COMPLEX science here.  There are no "GENERIC" methods for much of anything in the technology realm because there are almost unlimited probabilities!  Especially when you are restoring a COMPLETE backup to different hardware.  It's one thing to be able to install an operating system to different hardware... because at least the operating system is exactly the same code each time it's installed.  But once you've started working with a system the code is forever altered and the likelihood of any two being similar is pretty nil.

What's amazing to me is that they were able to encompass all of those possibilities and write a useful migration document in only 3797 words!  The caveats are minimal in my opinion.

Just the other day, Susan Bradley said it better than anyone... THIS IS ROCKET SCIENCE!  So, your particular situation is not necesarily replicable.  
(http://msmvps.com/blogs/bradley/archive/2006/07/18/105122.aspx)

With that being said, there ARE ways to back up and restore to different hardware... such as Acronis True Image Server (which I use and recommend often).  These third party tools work OUTSIDE the realm of Windows and the NTFS file system, and they are quite useful.  But I would have to argue that a well maintained system that was built on appropriate hardware to begin with has very little chance of needing an emergency migration to different hardware.  (And I include the possibility of major disaster such as fire).  So, cutting corners on deployment such as not using a decent RAID array will ALWAYS be costly and while I'm not suggesting that is what happened in your situation, it generally is the case with most "disasters" I encounter.

Jeff
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by:ccomley
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I fully take your point, I'm not saying this ought to be easy, I *AM* suggesting however that MS ought to document it better, even if the document says "not possible with NTBackup, we suggest you suppelement with one of these products" or simlar.  In particular, peopel buyng SBS2003 to run a business (and that'd be MOST of them!) ought to be aware, as part of their planning for installation, just how long it might take to re-build the server in the event of a hardware failure. And specifically, in the event of a hardware failure when the machine is sufficiently old that it won't be *possible* to replace it with identical hardware.

My ears perk up at the mention of Acronis TI server - hadn't occured to me that such s/w might make for a hardware-portable backup scheme. I use EasyMigrate all the time to increase disk size within the workstation - excellent s/w. I shall take a look.

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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
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I absolutely love Acronis True Image Server.  I first used it to install new drives and since the cost of drives has come down so much, I've started using it as a modified RAID 10 (which is normally a mirrored array of a striped array, but with Acronis I use a striped array that is imaged to the Acronis "Secure Zone".  Since the image isn't real time (we have it run an incremental update three times a day) the performance is pretty good.   I'm just starting to test an off-site incremental image which should work quite well.  Basically we would create a full image onsite, and then take that drive off-site to add to incrementally.  That way the initial resource intensive part doesn't have to be sent over the wire.

Using Acronis to restore to different hardware usually requires thier add-on package "Universal Restore" which they describe as giving the ability to be truly hardware independent.  But I also have been dabbling with Virtual Server 2005 to provide that option.... basically running the SBS as a virtual machine which means that you can run the vcd image on just about anything.  That is truly a hardware-portable backup scheme.

But, overall, let's not forget my main point... which is that much of the "disaster recovery" can be avoided if appropriate hardware and maintenace is deployed initially.

Jeff
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by:ccomley
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Virtualising is a smooth move. But frankly IMHO WIndows is *already* mature enough that it *ought* to be easy to identify the hardware-specific bits of Windows, and isolate them in a backup situation from the "customer-specific" stuff.  We used to have it in the good old days - netware 3 you just changed teh "LOAD" commands for the NICs, Disk Controllers, etc., in the box and off you went! :-)

I'm trying to get hold of the demo copy of Acronis to have a look at. Fortunatly not as expensive as I might have thought, given the propensity of MOST software houses to assume that £1=$1, it's refershing to note that Acronis don't do this.

Any idea what the demo version doesn't do?

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Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 500 total points
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As far as I know the demo is full featured except that it has only 15 days of use.... that's from just checking out their site.  Because I thought it used to have a limitation that it couldn't do some specific tasks such as restoring to new hardware.  Although that may have been with version 8.0 since I think that version didn't have Universal Restore as a separate component.

Also, just FYI, I thought you might be interested in checking out some of the info here:  http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/device/default.mspx

While most of it is of a technical nature, there are a number of good articles which show how committed Microsoft is to hardware interoperability.  It's always so easy to make blanket statements about how Microsoft does't do this or that, but once you take a look at what they really are doing it's pretty amazing, in my opinion.  I'll qualify that with a note that I'm an independent small business consultant and I do not and have not ever worked for Microsoft.

Jeff
TechSoEasy
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