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Backup Exec *.dr Files - When are they updated, and is there enough point to them?

Created: 03 Mar 2010 • Updated: 21 May 2010 | 13 comments
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Hi all, when reading about the IDR option I noticed that the *.dr files are only updated when an entire backup of the server is done, without any exclusions - does this eman I am forced to backup absolutely everything, on all partitions, before the *.dr file is updated? Is it not only enough to backup the entire C: drive? The reason I ask is because when looking in C:\Program Files\Symantec\Backup Exec\IDR\Data I've noticed that the *.dr file for the server in question is being updated (according to the date modified) after every backup, even though we don't backup any full partitions at all currently, not even C: - all we back up are fragments of D: and F:, the system state, the exchange info store, all SQL DB's, the utility partition and the shadow copy components.

Ultimately what I'd love is to have a tape containing the entire C: drive, and just the important areas of all other partitions, and the other obvious important parts such as system state etc, and be able to restore this tape using IDR. I'd probably perform this backup job weekly, so our current weekly backup would jsut be extended to include the C: drive, and on Monday I'd come in and copy the *.dr files to a USB stick and move offsite.

One other question - I'm surprised at the fact you have to manually copy *.dr files onto a removable drive every single time a full backup is completed - this seems like a lot of legwork, it almost seems pointless as from what I can tell the only benefit to having the dr files is that you have an up-to-date list of backup catalog's, and the alternative is that you simply manually select the tape to restore from - is it not much easier to forego copying to dr files and just put up with having to manually choose the backup set to restore? Is there any alternative that the dr file brings?

Any suggestions on peoples own disaster recovery stratergies or experiances would be very welcome indeed :)

thanks guys

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Colin Weaver's picture

The .DR file contains NIC/Disk driver information and disk signature information as well as the catalog details so is potentially more useful than you think.

If you configure an alternate DR file location you can make the DR file be automatically saved to a different server for safety

When you build the ISO for the IDR CD - the latest DR file (for the selected servers(s) ) should be included - however this will almosrt certainly be out of date by the time you need to do a DR.

mike-adtrak's picture

Thanks Colin - I thought the drivers were contained within the CD and not within the .DR file.

Regarding a bootable tape drive, is the newest DR file included on the tape itself when each full backup is completed, thus negating the need to have a seperate floppy disk containing the .DR file?

Also, (if I was using the bootable CD method) is it ok to put the .DR file on a USB flash drive when needed, or must it be on a floppy or network share?


Hemant Jain's picture

Any method would work, not necessarily a network share. As long as you have the updated dr file available, we should be able to get there. Also, regarding the drivers, yes the driver files are present in the CD, but info about the driver files is in the dr file.


mike-adtrak's picture

Ah ok, I see.

One last thing I didn't see an answer for was - when the manual says a full backup without any exclsuions must be performed, is this literally correct? Must I perform a full backup of all drives on the system for the .DR file to be updated and correct, or is it enough for me to backup the entier C: drive and only parts of other drives?

I ask because I noticed that my .DR files in C:\Program Files\Symantec\Backup Exec\IDR\Data have a timestamp of the end of our last backup, even though our last backup had exclusions.

Thanks for your advice, much appreciated..

Colin Weaver's picture

You can use USB for moving the DR file around - just make sure the USB stick is plugged in before you boot the IDR CD/tape

With regards the DR file being created - I believe it is created/updated whenever complete volumes and/or the system state is backed up - you can use exclusions by rule (especially as there are hidden rule based exclusions in the product anyway i.e. swap files and system state items are not backed up via the C: drive backup). I am not sure of the effect of deselecting by folder instead of using an Exclusion - this might cause a DR file not to be created.

Colin Weaver's picture

Also with regards the content of the .DR file - internally we have a tool that can read the DR file - when you run it, as well as displaying disk partitioning information, it also extracts .SYS, .DLL and .INF files - so it does contain drivers.

mike-adtrak's picture

Edit - Sorry, I didn't see that last part of your post. Is it possible for me to submit a DR file to yourselves to see when it was last created, for peace of mind, or is it possible for me to see when the DR was updated myself?

We do backup the system state, but have excluded vertain areas by using the selection list, not by using the include/exclude rules - do you beleive this is still ok?

Thanks for your help Colin

Colin Weaver's picture

The date of the DR file itself is when it was last updated. What was backed up is what is in the catalogs - and the DR file keeps the drive information, the disk parttioning information and an index of the required catalogs for the sets created by the job that created the DR file - as such what can be restored is what is in the catalogs.

If you want us to tell you what is in your DR file you will have to log a support call

It is slightly dependent on which version of Backup Exec as to what we can tell you, however, we should be able to tell you
The date of the job that created the file
Your drive parttions
The family ID of the catalog files
The drives backed up (note we won't be able to see what was selected on the drives - although System State and Shadow copy will be listed as seperate drives)
The operating System of the server
The network configuration of the server
Details of the disk controllers

If you do log a call mention that you would like your DR file analyzed with DRList

mike-adtrak's picture

I should be ok then, as the date on the DR file is the date and time when my last backup finished.

Thanks for the help Colin :)

Colin Weaver's picture

I had a fuller explanation internally that explains it better:
A .DR file gets updated in the following scenarios:

  1. After every full backup of the following resources

          a. NTFS volumes

          b. Utility Partitions

          c. Shadow Copy Components

          d. System State


Note that you can select the above resources at the volume level in the Backup Exec UI and you can still exclude some of the files and folders underneath the selection, that you think are not critical for a disaster recovery scenario, and the .DR file will still be updated considering the set as a 'DR compatible set'.

  2. After every Incremental or differential backup of the above resources. Again selection should be done at the volume level and not on a individual file or folder level.


Note that allowing the exclusion of certain files & folders from underneath the volume level selection and still considering the backup set as a 'DR compatible set' can be configured using the registry key (also discussed in

      'DR Update Allow Excludes' REG_DWORD    1

under  "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\Software\Symantec\Backup Exec For Windows\Backup Exec\Engine\IDR" ( by default exclusions are allowed ).

You can perform a full backup of your critical volumes (boot and system volumes & Active Directory database related volumes) to create the .DR file and can keep updating the .DR file with incrementals later. You should have performed atleast one full backup of the volume though.

Regarding bootable tape, the .DR file is not included in the tape image since the tape image has to be written first to the tape (so that it can boot) as part of the backup. Meaning by the time the backup job completes the tape image has already been written making the .DR file inside the tape image obsolete. This is the reason the .DR file has to be provided from another medium ( either through floppy/USB media or through network ) during a bootable tape based IDR.

mike-adtrak's picture

Hi Colin, good explanation - one thing that seemed a bit ambiguous though, is it ok to select only certain NTFS volumes or must all volumes be chosen?

From experiance, It seems like you don't need to choose all volumes, as our DR file is getting updated when we have not done so.

Colin Weaver's picture

You don't need to choose all the volumes - although be aware that this disk signature information is likely to still include all the volume detail in order to recreate the original volume layout when using the fully autmated IDR process. Obviosuly you shoudl always select the C: drive (and if different the drive(s) containing the operating system files and any application binaries)

mike-adtrak's picture

Thats brilliant, that's exactly what I want - for IDR to recreate all partitions exactly as they were, and restore what I've backed up, then I will restore the rest of the information from other backup sources (as some of it is archived).

Thanks for your help, I understand the process a lot better now.