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Windows Server Backup

Posted on 2013-06-21
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Last Modified: 2013-06-22
Is the built in Windows server backup enough?  

I am asking this because one time I had a failure.  The DC died from a bad update and I tried to restore from a backup and it failed.  Over and over again, eventually I realized the external drive I was backing up to was going bad.  I was able to retrieve the files, re-install sbs 2008, setup the domain and move the files back. This was a real pain, especially getting all of the mailboxes back to where they needed to be.  Also some of the mailboxes were corrupt.  I actually never fully recovered SharePoint, that was the only thing I really lost.

So is there a better way to backup the system state, all of the redirected files, exchange and sharepoint. Every single backup claimed it completed successfully and there were 200+ available points to recover from but none worked.  How do I detect this failure before it happens in the future and replace the external?

Because of this, I am paranoid and run a full backup before I run any system updates.
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Question by:dksgreenit
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LVL 16
ID: 39267521
WSB is an image based backup and seems to work well for full server image recovery.

MO
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Cliff Galiher earned 500 total points
ID: 39267544
Is the Windows Server Backup "good enough?"  Well, the truth is that is a highly subjective question. If you need to retain a minimum number of backups, or if you want to enforce media management such as a grandfather/father/son scheme, then no. If you want encrypted media, then no.

But if you want simple, inexpensive, integrated backups that show up in your SBS reports (you did post in the SBS zone after all) then yes, it will do that.

So whether it is "good enough" is entirely dependent on what you need.

Now, as far as the rest of your post. NO backup will prevent problems if you don't follow best practices. Disks fail. Tapes fail. Hardware fails. There are some basic rules of thumb that should always be followed, and a good disaster recovery plan needs to be more in-depth than even these rules of thumb:

1) Always have a DR plan. That means written. With policies on data retention, recovery processes, testing processes, and storage processes. And some form of accountability to make sure the processes are followed.

2) Never use just one disk or tape. Your problem above could have been easily avoided if you were regularly rotating disks. Even two disks in regular rotation could have avoided this problem.

3) Keep backups OFFSITE. If that means buying 5 disks or tapes and rotating one daily or weekly and keeping the others elsewhere, so be it. But if you just had one drive attached and were backing up to it constantly (which is what it sounds like, if you had 200 point in time backups) then what happens if a sprinkler goes off? Or someone spills a soda on the thing? OFFSITE BACKUPS!!! ALWAYS!!!

As an aside: WSB does not support tapes by the way, but in case you do want large cheap storage and go 3rd-party, you may find tapes to be more economical. So all of this advice is media-neutral.

4) TEST your backups!!!! Windows (or any backup) may report a backup success. But what does that mean? It means that it was able to backup the data. If the data it backed up was corrupt then restoring corrupt data won't help you much. Some applications, like Exchange, can have corruption in the database that goes unnoticed until you try to do a restore. Restores *always* trigger a data integrity check. So backups succeed. Restores don't. All backup programs would have this problem. The data itself is corrupt, not the backup, and the backup didn't technically fail. It happily backed up the corrupt data. TEST TEST TEST.

All of these should be written into your DR plan. Where data is stored. How often you take it off-site. How often you test. HOW you test. (restore to a VM. Restore to a cold-spare server. Etc.) There are books you can buy that will help you refine your DR policy. Some are written specifically for the small business/entrepreneur. If you need that kind of help, buy a book or hire a consultant to help you.

Once you have that information, you'll probably also find out whether WSB is "good enough" as you can easily see if its features align with your DR policies and goals. But from a purely technology point of view, no other backup program could have avoided the problem you describe if you weren't taking steps to avoid the problem...as I've outlined above.

Good luck,

-Cliff
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Expert Comment

by:Haresh Nikumbh
ID: 39267873
NO... Windows backup is not sufficient


 if Server is Critical, and if that goes down and hamper production hours then you have to go for third party backups tool.

Most Of the third party backups tools are disk base backup.. so  if server goes down (hardware failure) and you want to restore data on the new server then that can be easily done by  Bare metal recovery.

Also some of the backups tools are offering granular recovery options .. so from backup you can easily restore mailbox , sharepoint .. or sql data.. without creating new or test server.
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Expert Comment

by:shahzoor
ID: 39268471
no its not sufficient
use Acronis backup with an add-on called universal restore
with the help of it you can deploy image of one server to another with entirely different hardware specs
its reliable and restoring image doesn't take much time, you can even deploy it to any workstation as well
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Author Closing Comment

by:dksgreenit
ID: 39268576
Very indepth, thank you for the advice :)  Time to write a DR Plan.
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