Can two Windows 10 PCs be mirrored for DR?

ClintonK
ClintonK used Ask the Experts™
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If I have two identical Windows PC (Windows 10 Pro), is it possible to mirror them over the LAN so that I have one for DR?
The application running on the PC is critical (Payroll app for a bureau ) so it would tend to upset a lot of people if it was out of service for a day or two. I'm looking at the backup and restore options but if I could mirror two PCs it would give me instant DR.
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Business Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018
Commented:
"Mirror", probably not as there is always differences.

I keep my two Windows 10 machines fully backed up to each other with Sync Back Pro which I run twice daily. That keeps all my files, data and documents (including QuickBooks with Payroll) fully backed up. That is how I do it. Works fine.
Peter HutchisonSenior Network Systems Specialist

Commented:
You can if the machines were VMs on Hyper-V and then you can use Hyper-V's replication service to make a mirrored copy of the VM.
See https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/canitpro/2013/04/07/step-by-step-virtual-machine-replication-using-hyper-v-replica/
Lee W, MVPTechnology and Business Process Advisor
Most Valuable Expert 2013

Commented:
I would ask why you're running a critical application on an OS that was not designed for high availability?

If the machine was a VM then yes, you could replicate it... of course, replication replicates EVERYTHING - including accidental deletions, corruptions, virus infections... So if this is a critical system, you should be probably using backup software that ensures if it goes doesn't, you can recover it.  Not mention RAID...

But the REAL question is, how critical is critical?  And have you tested your plan for recovery (RTO)?  Not sure what the definition of bureau is in this instance.  I'm in the United States and your profile indicates UK.  Your meaning could be different from mine.  I interpret your post to be referring to a payroll application for a business... if that's the case, they likely don't perform payroll 24x7... or really, more than once per week.  And if they are competent in my opinion, they should be performing the basics at least 24 hours before a deadline... so if something goes wrong, there's enough time to straighten it out prior to all the employees storming the payroll office... so... based on that logic, it's critical... but not THAT critical... it's not running the life support for an accident victim... or landing planes... so... as long as you have tested your DR plan regularly, have good, tested backups occurring AT LEAST nightly, then having the Windows 10 machine replicated isn't that critical.

Of course, the other solution (depending on the quality of the payroll software) is to have it installed on more than one machine.  If it accesses a database, that database should be a on a server that gets regularly backed up and potentially replicated, making the software little more than an easily replaceable interface for the database.

If this is not a VM, you may be able to spend an exorbitant amount of system replication software like Double-Take (now owned by Carbonite) and/or Neverfail... both cost Thousands of dollars to license... but essentially replicate one system to another.  I'm not sure if it supports NON-Server systems though.
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Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
The database if that is the backend running in a standard version can mirror..

Lee's question/comment covers......

What is supported by the payrol application for dr purposes.
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
See if you are able to easily swap hard drives. If you can, simply use a portable hard drive (usb3 connected, for example) and clone your hard drive to it at regular intervals. You will find software that does this automated.

Still, this is no backup concept as well, since backups should hold several versions to resort to, so you should have a separate backup, normally written to a network attached storage or file share of another machine.

Having real high availability, as said, would normally be achieved by using virtual machines or cluster concepts. It depends on your demands and skill set what you should try to use. I guess, having a cloned hard drive will be enough for you. Also save an image copy to restore from to a network based storage that is safe from harm (as in theft or fire), so that you may have a sort of disaster recovery.

Author

Commented:
Thanks all.
This is a small-scale implementation of a payroll app which although is the latest version produced by the software company it's not really state-of-the-art stuff, which is why I posed the question. Life would be dead easy if I had some VMs and a decent database behind the software but unfortunately that's not the case. I'm stuck with trying to make the best of some "not very good" software.
OK, payroll isn't critical if you compare it to a life-support machine but you try telling that to a bunch of angry farm hands on a Friday pay day.
I'll work along the lines that John has implemented and will use some file mirroring software such as Sync Back Pro (I think my customer has a spare licence for GoodSync which I think will do a similar job) and make sync'd copies of the files to the DR PC.
I will of course include the files in the company backup scheme too.
JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)
Most Valuable Expert 2012
Expert of the Year 2018

Commented:
Thanks for the update. For small scale such as you have, synchronizing faithfully works really well.
Distinguished Expert 2017

Commented:
how is the data maintained in this software? does it use a database backend, or it uses flat files.
There are sync toy as well as directory monitoring tools that might help you synchronize data from an underlying directory and copy it out to another.,

Much depends on how the people interact with the software.....
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
Since this pc acts as a server, just syncing files alone is not the solution. Is the 2nd pc setup the same way (or cloned)?
Did you try the failover as a test? That is important.

Author

Commented:
The PC running the payroll software is a single user standalone PC. It's connected to the Windows domain mainly for authentication and email purposes - its not a requirement of the payroll app. The payroll app is very basic and resides only on the PC itself.
The fact that the PC is connected to the LAN will enable me to copy files over to the standby PC. The Payroll app is definitely "old school".
Distinguished Expert 2018

Commented:
Just make sure to try it, that's all I am saying... :-)

Author

Commented:
Thank you, I certainly will.
I've requested a couple of matching test PCs so that I can prove (or disprove) the theory. It's not the ideal solution I know but given the software and the budget the options are limited.

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