Image or backup Windows 2003 Server

Posted on 2009-05-06
Last Modified: 2012-05-06
I have a Windows 2003 Server running off of a SATA hard drive. This server has AD and Exchange 2007 on it. In need to back up the server in case something happens. I am looking for a solution that is affordable. What is the best way to image or backup this drive so that if I need to restore the server data it will be fully functional? I am wondering if I just imaged the drive if this would be a safe and affordable way to go. What would you recommend and what is an affordable option? I am a small business and have a limited budget.
Question by:jhieb

Accepted Solution

fastrad earned 500 total points
ID: 24322552
I have a few suggestions and I can give you a rough cost as well.

My first choice is virtualize your server and backup the entire computing environment.  This way you will be able to backup the entire fully functioning server.  Your downtime will be minimal as well since any computer can become its host.

My second choice is get a large external drive and use Ghost or the like to image or clone the entire drive.  Then you can get backup and running with a new disk or image to a virtual disk and be up and running quick.  Minimal downtime but not as fast as my first option.

My third option is to buy Backup Exec and install and configure that for your needs.  This is by far the most expensive and time consuming proposition.  Backup Exec is by far the best backup software because you can be very specific about what you backup and you can backup to a lot of things.  Getting yourself back up and running is a pain in the ass though.

All require tech savvy and if you don't have the cash you should outsource your server needs to some good ASP or dump that server because having a server is maintenance and that costs time/money.

Author Comment

ID: 24322625
I do have a server with VMWARE and I am testing it out. I removed Microsoft Virtual Server and I like VMWARE better. For now, I will use VMWARE for workstation testing, but maybe someday I will get comfortable with it and rely upon it for mission critical servers. For now, this is not an option because my live sever needs a backup.

I bought two  each 1TB SATA hard drives. I can connect them to an external USB enclosure, or put one in the machine and image to it if the imaging software recognizes it. This, is the solution I am working towards.

I would love to use BackupExec. I have an older licensed copy but my agents are not current. I also don't want to use an agent for Exchange 2007. My preference would be to do a brick level backup or just dump to PST files so that I don't lose anything. To license a new copy and to purchase the agents I need is not affordable to me right now.

I have been looking at Acronis, Ghost, and Paragon for drive imaging solutions. Each have a home user and business version. Acronis has a business solution that is between $800 and $1200. I cannot afford it at this time. Paragon looks good. I have used it before. Same with Ghost. But, I am unclear why there is a server and home version. My server is 64bit so maybe that is part of the issue.

I just want to image or clone my server to another hard drive so that I don't lose anything and I need to do it the most cost effective way. I like Pargon because it is $129, but I could not find anywhere that it supported 64bit Windows.

If I am to make an image theoretcially, it does not matter what is on the hard drive. All that matters is that the boot sector and the SID comes across. Ghost used to have problems with the SID.

So, I guess my focus is sitll for drive imaging software. What is the best and affordable solution for imaging a Windows 2003 Server that is 64 bit, and that (I thnk) can be imaged from a bootable disk. I will be imaging from one SATA drive to another SATA drive. Both drives will be installed in the machine, but I would like to have a USB choice.
LVL 12

Expert Comment

ID: 24322663
I would check out double take, on the fly backup is the way to go here.

You can install a Virtual server environment on a computer in the corner of your data center and on the fly backup the entire server installation in such a way as to have 0 down time with automatic roll over capability.

Expert Comment

ID: 24322695
Cool.  I have most experience with Ghost and surprisingly I use Ghost 14 right now the most.  There is a very tricky/creative way to use this that will allow you go image your disk (one at a time) and save to a USB disk/drive/flash.  

The way I use it is to backup entire workstations to the server.  I boot off the Ghost CD launch network services map to the server and push the workstations image to the server for a backup.  I don't do this much since it isn't automated at all but isn't so bad because the workstations don't have much data if I can help it.

I have not used this method on a server but the type of data or disk you are imaging doesn't matter so it should work.  I think I might try it in the next couple days just to see if it will work but for right now it works in theory based on the fact that the CD is the boot disk and it doesn't care what data is on a disk.
LVL 10

Expert Comment

ID: 24332087
You've got one Windows 2003 server runing AD and Exchange.
You want to back it up in such a way that you can take that backup media and quiclky and easily restore it to dissimialr hardware if necessary.
Plus you'd like to be bale to do granular restores for mailboxes and files.
Plus you're on a budget.

Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery Server with Granular Restore Option will allow you to back your server up to an image file (one image file per volume) to an internal or an external hard disk.

Ideally have 5 external hard disks , Monday to Friday which go off site. This will allow you to go back 5 days if you need it.

Having said that if when you get some budget get yourself a good tape drive, backup up your data to it (don't worry about your system and applications cause their backed up to the images) and send it offsite. Leave at least one tape per month in storage in case you need to restore data from months or even years ago(it happens).

Your ideal scenario would be to create images of your OS and App volumes and then backup your data (exchange databases, directory structures and files etc) to tape.)

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