How to Automate OFFLINE disk imaging of Win2k8 DC running Exchange 2k7, AD, VS2005R2, SQL, etc

Posted on 2008-10-17
Last Modified: 2016-10-27
Here's my scenario:

Windows Server 2008 Standard x64 running:
Active Directory, DNS, IIS, etc
Exchange 2007 x64
MS Virtual Server 2005 R2 (Guests: 1 x Win2003 Standard which is running BES and SQL Express 2005 SP2)
Likely SQL 2005/2008 in the near future as well.

C:\ 74GB drive containing all important apps and services listed above
D:\ 500GB drive for backups

I want to find a way, via a product of some sort, to create a bootable backup/recovery partition that is launched after shutting down the Windows 2008 server in order to create an image of the C:\ drive to a backup image file on the D:\ drive. Because there are so many complex apps running on this server, the safest bet I think is to create a full image of C:\ once or twice a week around 3am or so to the D:\ drive. Using products from Acronis, Symantec/Norton, or Windows Server Backup, will not do what I am looking for as they are online backups/images/snapshots which run while windows is running, and this will likely result in corruption issues in AD and/or Exchange after a restore.

I suppose that if I have to go with an online backup solution that Windows Server Backup is likely the most trustworthy since its from Microsoft so it will hopefully use all the appropriate VSS writers (or whatever) to conduct the backup, so I may go with this if I cannot find anything else that works offline - I just don't like the restoration method as much since I assume I'd have to reinstall a fresh copy of Windows 2008 and then use Windows Server Backup to restore the backups from the D:\ drive in the event of a failure - but will this work for sure? I won't know until I test it I guess... but an offline imaging method would be preferable over any online one I think...

Soooo, are there any offline imaging apps or custom scripts, whether they be linux driven, etc, that can run off a separate bootable partition or drive, that allows scheduling as well? I've tried Acronis' secure-zone but it doesn't appear to be automated in any way... if it were it would likely be the best bet. The official Acronis support forum had someone else ask this same question and the only response was that it wasn't yet supported but that it might be in a future version.

Any help or input on this would be great! Thanks!
P.S. This is the only server in the environment, there aren't any others that are up 24/7 so it has to be a backup image to a different hard drive on the same server. If this is not possible I may be able to use PXE based imaging software to create an image, such as Altiris Deployment Server, to an old laptop with sufficient disk space, but I'd like to avoid this if possible as I'm sure the cost to do this in such a small environment is wayyyyy up there...
Question by:trafsta
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Expert Comment

ID: 22743617
If you're looking for a backup solution, I'd suggest a backup utility such as CommVault Galaxy Data Protection. Its what we use here and I love it. We are able to restore not just folder or files, but you can also restore accounts to AD, Email messages from a single Exchange mailbox, and allows you to use a number of storage policies.

A little bit pricer, but in two years of using it, our annual DR tests have been a whole lot easier.

Author Comment

ID: 22743731
Thanks zerodollars. I'll take a look at it now.

I should have noted earlier, however, that the solution has to be sub $200 :) There's a reason all this software is crammed onto one server, and that's that its for a tiny business with a very limited budget. I'm not sure what CommVault costs but I guess I'll find out in a bit when I look into it :)

Author Comment

ID: 22745705
Hmmm, seems Windows Server Backup (part of Win2k8) doesn't even support Exchange-aware backups... at least not yet (an addon/plugin was due sometime during the summer apparently, but still hasn't been released, so who knows when it will be available).

I think my best bet is still to figure out a way to boot to WinPE via a boot manager and then create an image using Acronis True Image or Norton Ghost... the question is, how do I automate this? :)

Accepted Solution

trafsta earned 0 total points
ID: 22880844
I ended up just sticking with Windows Server Backup for everything except Exchange, and Backup Exec for Exchange for Exchange...

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