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How to perform System State backup on Windows 2008 R2?

Points of My Scenario:
1. I am Windows updates admin of a Windows domain.
2. There are 30+ single-drive Win2008 R2 virtual machines.
3. I need to perform system-state backup on these single-drive servers - before performing Windows updates.
QUESTION:
How do I perform a systemstate backup to the system drive (C:)? I am open to 3rd-party lightweight [free] utilities - but prefer the OS builtin options.
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waltforbes
Asked:
waltforbes
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2 Solutions
 
BWXTCommented:
Well...you can do this a couple of different ways.  You can enable the Windows Backup Role/Feature and use that to do a System State of each system.  Or use PowerShell...

Check this out:
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc753201.aspx
http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/ee706683.aspx
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Krzysztof PytkoActive Directory EngineerCommented:
You need to install Windows backup feature on each server and then you can use wbadmin to perform System State backup of each machine. Create a batch file and add it to task scheduler for daily execute. That's all

How to use wbadmin for system state backup
http://technet.microsoft.com/pl-pl/library/cc742124%28v=ws.10%29.aspx

If you need any assistance, just let me know

Regards,
Krzysztof
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waltforbesAuthor Commented:
To BWXT & iSiek/Krzysztof: Windows Server 2008 does not allow system state backups to the same drive as the OS: these are single-drive systems. That's why I need the help.
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Carlo-GiulianiCommented:
The answers above are perfectly valid...but if these are virtual machines, why don't you use snapshots?
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Krzysztof PytkoActive Directory EngineerCommented:
If any of these VMs are Domain Controllers, you need to have System State backup. You cannot simply restore DC from snapshot, this is unsupported way by Microsoft and may lead to USN Rollback

Krzysztof
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Krzysztof PytkoActive Directory EngineerCommented:
Oh, as I know there is no software which allows for that. You cannot do system state backup to C-Drive

Krzysztof
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Carlo-GiulianiCommented:
Let me expand on that a bit.  

Think about why you are making system state backups and in what case you would actually use them.  
 - If an update renders the system completely unuseable (i.e. unbootable, or too unstable do run anything) you won't be able to use the system state backup anyway. In that scenario you need to use last-known-good configuration
- If there an update introduces some application-specific bug, your first choice should be to uninstall the suspect update(s)....not restore system state.

Snapshots are quick, easy, and complete.  Their main disadadvantage is also one of their strengths...if you revert to snapshot you revert everything...including any data changes made on the VM.
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Carlo-GiulianiCommented:
iSiek makes a very good point about DCs.  I had to go read about USN rollback to understand what he was talking about, so I've just learned something important.  Never use a snapshot for a DC (unless it is the only DC in the forest).
 
Can't you write your system state backups to a share somewhere?
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waltforbesAuthor Commented:
To All: Great discussion. Please note the following:
1. [Carlo-Giuliani] Some VMs will use snapshots - where there is adequate free datastore space.
2. [Carlo-Giuliani] Snapshot is not an option for some VMs - I planned to use system state on these ones.
3. [Carlo-Giuliani] If an update renders a system unstable/unbootable, we will use the last resort, which is a slow, complicated restore - an enterprise tape-based backup/restore system (most undesirable).
4. [iSiek] Thanks for the warning on DCs - there is one VM that is a DC! Given the advice, I will not snapshot it, because there are a number of other DCs in this domain!
5. [iSiek] No sharehas sufficient space to backup all the system states required (total available storage is a limiting factor).
I wish all my VMs were Windows Server 2003. Am I out of options?
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waltforbesAuthor Commented:
Now I know my limitations.
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