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The Importance of Rapid System Recovery

May 22, 2007

Summary

Windows system recovery has never been easy. It’s been a very manual, intensive, and lengthy process. But now a complete disk-based system recovery solution for Windows-based servers, desktops, and laptops allows businesses to recover from system loss or disasters in minutes, not hours or days.

Introduction

Windows system recovery has never been easy. Traditionally, it has been a very manual, intensive, and lengthy process. It can involve repairing the hardware and then reinstalling the operating system, applications, patches, and system updates — with several reboots along the way. Administrators then need to reconfigure the system back to its pre-failure state. All told, the process can take days or even weeks.

That sort of timetable is untenable in today’s mission-critical environments. Today, all systems — from servers to desktops to laptops — must be quickly recoverable, whether to similar or dissimilar hardware. Failure to return promptly to a productive state could result in significant lost revenue, loss of employee productivity, not to mention a damaged reputation.

Nevertheless, system recovery is too often overlooked by today’s businesses. One survey estimates that 85% of corporate systems are not backed up. According to a recent study of U.S. companies, nearly half had experienced a recovery failure in the past year. And when the recovery did work, it took more than six hours and required an IT person on site.

This article will show how organizations can use a disk-based system recovery solution to capture a recovery point of the entire live Windows system (including operating system, applications, system settings, configurations, and files) and restore it quickly without a lengthy, manual process. It will also show how they can quickly restore individual Microsoft Exchange email messages, folders, and mailboxes.

Today’s server environments

A typical server environment consists of the main servers, drive arrays (which may or may not be directly attached to their respective servers), and disk- and tape-based backup servers. Server storage devices hold organizational applications (and operating systems) in some partitions and documents in others. The entire environment is subject to the following threats:
  • End users can easily overwrite or delete important documents.
  • Applications need updating.
  • Operating systems need to be patched.
  • Malicious code can penetrate defenses and attack data, applications, and operating systems and can even get backed up if not found before the next backup cycle.
  • Storage systems wear out and must be replaced.
  • A hard drive fails, or hardware needs upgrading, and there is no matching hardware to which it can be restored.
  • The entire facility can be shut down due to a natural disaster.
  • An important user (whose work must be backed up frequently) is added to the network without proper notification.
In addition, organizations often worry about maintaining duplicate hardware environments for recovery purposes since many solutions don’t support restoring to dissimilar hardware environments. That can be extremely costly. Finally, what if the system that goes down is in a remote location? In many instances, organizations don’t have IT support at all of their remote locations, necessitating the need to send someone to that site, which takes time and money.

Rapid recovery

A disk-based solution such as Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery overcomes manual system recovery processes by capturing an exact copy of a system—including operating system, applications, system settings, configurations, and data—in a single recovery point. When a system fails, an IT administrator selects the recovery point to restore from and the software restores the complete system in minutes, rather than hours or days, even to dissimilar hardware or in remote, unattended locations. Additional benefits include:
  • Support for virtual environments This includes the conversion of physical recovery points to virtual formats (P2V) through a wizard-driven process as well as conversion of virtual systems back to physical environments (V2P) for VMware ESX Server, VMware Server, VMware Workstation, and Microsoft Virtual Server. Administrators can choose to convert entire systems at once or selective volumes at a time.
  • Enhanced data recovery capabilities Integration with Google Desktop as well as Backup Exec Retrieve allows end users to recover their own files without IT intervention. Each provides a simple, web-based user interface that is so simple, no training or special software is needed.
  • Centralized management Simplifying backup and recovery tasks for organizations with more than a single system, the software enables administrators to centrally create backup jobs, view real-time status, run reports, quickly resolve any problems identified, and add new systems as required.

Microsoft Exchange recovery

Increasingly, IT administrators are demanding greater flexibility in managing Microsoft Exchange. Backup Exec System Recovery can simplify Exchange recovery, providing recovery not only of the entire Exchange server, but also of individual email messages, attachments, folders, and mailboxes in seconds. Granular and full system recoveries are possible without the need for multiple backups.

Conclusion

A complete disk-based system recovery solution for Microsoft Windows-based servers, desktops, and laptops allows businesses to recover from system loss or disasters in minutes rather than in hours or days—even to dissimilar hardware platforms, virtual environments, or remote, unattended locations. Such a solution significantly strengthens an administrator’s ability to meet ambitious recovery time objectives and service-level agreements. Ultimately, a disk-based system recovery solution enables an administrator to keep a system state completely up-to-date so it can be recovered from bare metal, if necessary, in a very rapid timeframe.

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