Highly Reliable Systems: Removable Disk Backup & Recovery


How to do Bare metal restore with Windows Backup using a NAS drive

By Kelley Kirtley
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The question about how to do a bare metal restore is more of a software issue than a Netswap hardware issue but essentially it’s just a matter of attaching to the Netswap NAS via UNC path during the restore.  Here are more details:

First, it is important to note that “bare metal restore” from a NAS is easier with 3rd party programs such as Storagecraft, Acronis, Arcserve, VEEAM and the like.  This is why some experienced administrators or those who have tight Recovery Time Objectives (RTO’s less than a few hours) spend money for 3rd party solutions.  They are expensive but more robust. The second observation is that a bare metal restore is usually easier and faster when, during the initial setup, you first load the  Windows Hypervisor (included free with Windows 2012 and 2016) and then load the Windows OS as a single VM under that hypervisor.  This gives maximum flexibility.

Having said this, it is possible to do bare metal restore to native server hardware using the Windows backup program.  The default method of doing a bare metal restore is to boot the server from the Windows install media (this might be a CD or a usb key but must be the same windows version you are trying to recover).   Or you can hit F8 at boot time if the Windows installation is still on the disk but not working right.  Preparing an emergency boot USB key or CD, having them stuck right to side of server, and testing in advance is always a good idea.

Once you’ve launched the Windows Recovery environment there are a few steps:  specify language settings, and then click Next. Click Repair your computer. Setup searches the hard disk drives for an existing Windows installation and then displays the results in System Recovery Options. If you are recovering the operating system onto separate hardware or a machine with a blank hard drive (due to hard drive failure), the list should be empty (there should be no operating system on the computer). Click Next. On the System Recovery Options page, click System Image Recovery. This opens the Re-image your computer page. Select one of the options to pick an image.   “Use the latest available system image is the usual recommended restore point.

Click Advanced to browse for a backup in a remote shared folder on the network and provide the Universal Naming Convention (UNC) path to the backup (on the Netswap share),  In rare cases it may be necessary to load NIC drivers if the server is non-standard so it’s best to have network driver available in advance on your emergency boot media.  This is because the driver needs to be present in local system. You cannot install a driver from the network and, instead, need to provide a local path to the .inf file to install a driver so make sure it’ s on the CD or usb key in advance. Click Next.  Specify the location as something that looks like  \\Netswap-21\Mirrorset1 and follow the bouncing ball to restore the image.  You will have to reboot the server at the end.

These steps are provided in more detail here:

https://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/cc755163.aspx

If time allows I would recommend running through a complete backup and subsequent restore before putting the server into production so you have all the pieces in place.

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