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What is a System State Backup & Restore

Posted on 2011-03-13
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What is a System State Backup and Restore mean?

When a System State backup is done, what exactly is backed up?

For example, if on my Server, I have AD installed and other applications such as SQL Server, and maybe Microsoft Office for example. Assuming I've done a system state backup. My server then crashes, but I have a duplicate server with the same hardware as the server that crashed. If I were to do a system state restore, what would I get back? The exact replica of the server that crashed earlier? Would I get back my applications like SQL Server and Microsoft Office? If I hit on the Start - Programs button, would I see all the same applications that was previously installed on the previous server?
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Question by:ben1211
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by:Ernie Beek
ID: 35122146
It's not enough to just backup/restore the system state data. You allways need to back it up in combination with you boot and system volumes.
Have a look at: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc785306(WS.10).aspx
That nicely explains it.
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by:bz43
ID: 35122180
What OS are you using?  The system state backup items depend on what software you are running and what you select to backup during the backup process.  This is a link about System State Backup and Restore:
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/240363

Also googled and found:
http://serverfault.com/questions/17624/what-is-a-system-state-backup-for

Some software that you can use to backup (if you don't want to use NTBackup directly) are:
- http://www.backupassist.com/index.html
see also:
http://www.backupassist.com/blog/support/recovering-a-windows-2008-system-state-from-an-image-backup-created-with-the-server-2008-backup-wizard-wbadmin-or-backupassist/
- http://www.2brightsparks.com
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by:bz43
ID: 35122227
Also, in Windows Vista, 7 and Server 2008, allows you to create images of the entire drive.  I don't believe this was available prior to Vista in NTbackup.
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by:progint
ID: 35123116
here also on top of the other GREAT resources provided, "system state backup and restore, server" on google:  http://www.google.com/search?q=system+state+backup+and+restore%2C+server&rls=com.microsoft:en-us&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&startIndex=&startPage=1

which may assist you in answering your multi-tiered question.  
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by:ben1211
ID: 35125542
I am using Windows 2003 Server. There isn't an image backup here. But does System State backup and restore cover the backup of applications like Microsoft SQL Server, or Microsoft Office etc, for example?
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by:Ernie Beek
ID: 35126595
No by it self. As stated before, a backup of your volumes is to be able to restore your data and a backup of your system state (in combination with a volume backup) is to able to restore the server (simply put).

But that is to restore the server you had. By that I mean the combination of (virtual) hardware/software from which you made the backup. If you want to restore it to antoher/new machine, you might want to have a look at bare metal recovery for example.
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by:bz43
ID: 35127265
just a link to bare metal backup information: http://www.backupassist.com/education/bareMetalASR.html
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by:progint
ID: 35128491
Actually now that you have let us know about the version of server you have, check out this doc from Microsoft on all the details of backing up and restoring your server:  http://download.microsoft.com/download/b/d/8/bd8e1a40-d202-429a-8eb7-26300d62bcc9/bku_bkuprstr.doc
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by:ben1211
ID: 35128706
i'm getting very confused.

i need to know when a system state backup is done, and if i were to restore a system state on the same server or a different server, will the system state restoration restore the applications that was installed on the server like Microsoft Office and SQL Server? Meaning if I just did a system state restore and then hit on the Windows Start button, would I see the applications i previously had installed?

I realize the data restoration would be different. But I'm trying to understand what exactly does a system state backup mean and when you do a system state restore...what do you get from a restore?

Suppose I did a system state backup. I had MS Office, SQL SERVER installed. The server hard disk crashes and its replaced. Now when I do a system state restore, will the applications like MS Office etc be available from the START - PROGRAMS ........
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Ernie Beek earned 250 total points
ID: 35129470
Ok, here we go:

i need to know when a system state backup is done, and if i were to restore a system state on the same server or a different server, will the system state restoration restore the applications that was installed on the server like Microsoft Office and SQL Server? Meaning if I just did a system state restore and then hit on the Windows Start button, would I see the applications i previously had installed?
The answer is no.

I realize the data restoration would be different. But I'm trying to understand what exactly does a system state backup mean and when you do a system state restore...what do you get from a restore?
The system state contains a number of items:

System Registry
COM + Database
Certificate Services
Active Directory
SysVol
IIS Metabase
Some of these items are only included if the specified service is installed (AD, IIS, Certificates).

If you need to restore a server, you will need this state to recover the registry, or your AD Domain, or IIS sites.

Suppose I did a system state backup. I had MS Office, SQL SERVER installed. The server hard disk crashes and its replaced. Now when I do a system state restore, will the applications like MS Office etc be available from the START - PROGRAMS ........
The answer, again, is no.
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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 250 total points
ID: 35134583
System State ONLY covers files related directly to Windows Server and the components you can install off the Server CD - anything else - SQL, Exchange, SharePoint Databases, Office, etc, will NOT be covered.  (Some basic aspects of them might be - as stated, the system state backs up the registry so settings stored in the registry would be preserved - but upon restore would be USELESS without the other parts of the programs that are not covered in the system state).
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Author Comment

by:ben1211
ID: 35195640
Assuming I have AD running on a specific server (DNS, DHCP, AD Users).

If a server crashes, I then re-install the OS, the Backup Software and restore the system state.

Will I get my AD Server back to normal? Meaning, will I get back my DHCP entries, DNS entries and all my users that I previously created, will it be restored?

What about my logon scripts under SYSVOL? Will this be restored as well?
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Author Comment

by:ben1211
ID: 35195647
leew, what do you mean by "but upon restore would be USELESS without the other parts of the programs that are not covered in the system state"

I don't get you.What other parts of the programs that are not covered in the system state? Do you mean the application itself and the Database for example?
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