I’m sat in Birmingham New Street station waiting for my train back to Stockport to leave. I travelled down this morning for Symantec’s Backup Exec Road Show and it was certainly worth the trip. I haven’t used Backup Exec since my corporate days, but recent research has shown it’s still considered the backup software to use and we’re preparing a new backup strategy to offer to our customers. Alongside this strategy is a disaster recovery option and that was my main reason for attending the road show today.
Backup Exec System Recovery (BESR) is a very impressive piece of software for, surprisingly enough, recovering your system. It’s basically an imaging solution with support for incremental backups. So you do one big image of your system to an internal drive, USB device, NAS box or even an FTP server (really needs to be local). Once that big image is done you can then schedule incrementals, which means your image is kept up to date while the backup times are kept to a minimum. In the event of a disaster rendering your server inoperable you boot your standby server from a PE boot CD, point at the image and within an hour your standby server is running just like your original.
Recovery to dissimilar hardware as above is one option, but what if you don’t even want to wait an hour? BESR also gives you the option to create virtual images of your production server, giving you a VMDK file for VMWare or the Hyper-V equivalent (note to self, must read up on Hyper-V). Incrementals are supported again, so you do that one big backup and then just run an incremental each night/hour/minute, whatever your preference. Then in the event of a disaster you turn up to site with your loan server already running VMWare/Hyper-V, copy over the virtual image file and have the server up and running in ten or fifteen minutes!
Finally another great use for BESR is one that Mr Richard Tubb of Netlink-IT highlighted. He recently migrated a customer to a new server and instead of following MS’s published and painful documentation (I have first hand experience of the pain) or even a swing migration, Ric just used BESR. Using the first scenario I outlined, he booted from the PE disk and loaded up the image, less than an hour later the customer was migrated! Compare that to the two days I spent migrating a customer using MS’s method, I know which I’ll do in the future.
Now, lets see if I can publish this while sat at Wolverhampton station!