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Seeking clarification on backup/restore options for SBS 2003 SP2

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  • Seeking clarification on backup/restore options for SBS 2003 SP2

    I have read the articles on this site about using ASR for Server 2003 and backing up Exchange 2003. I have also read the MS article on backing up SBS 2003. I admit to being a little confused about how all of this pulls together to create a reliable means of getting an SBS back up and running in the event of a catastrophe. I'm hoping someone can help me make sense of the bits and pieces.

    I am running SBS 2003 SP2 on a Dell PowerEdge R300. It is set up as the DC for a small company, but no one is currently using it as such. They're only using the Exchange functionality right now. I want to move everyone over to the domain, but I want to make sure that I have a good backup strategy in place before I make everyone rely on it. The previous admin has a backup schedule that backs up the flat Exchange databases using a script and NTBackup on a nightly basis. I know that this is not sufficient in the event of a server catastrophe. I'd like assistance in finding out if my understanding of backing up and restoring SBS 2003 is accurate.

    I created a System Restore backup, and I also created an ASR and saved it off to a network share. If the server died in some horrible way and needed to be rebuilt:

    1. It seems that I would need to reinstall SBS 2003 and the patches that existed at the time of my last backup, making sure to partition my drives in exactly the same way that they were prior to failure. Would I then need to restore the System State backup to get AD set back up?
    2. Does the System State restore take the place of a Domain Controller Primary Restore operation (wherein I would need to boot the server in Directory Services Restore Mode), or are these two separate things?
    3. Where does ASR come in really? If you have System State backups, do you need ASR? Does one make the restoration faster than the other?
    4. I understand the specifics of restoring the Exchange database after rebuilding a server. Do either of the above systems actually save the Exchange setup (i.e. what you see in the ESM except for the actual database) or does that all have to be recreated?
    5. I also understand that the server would have to be restored to the same hardware, for various reasons including licensing. If I had to use a different set of hardware and start from scratch, it seems that I could use System State to at least get the domain back up and online. I assume I could also import the email databases as well?

    Thanks in advance for any assistance in clearing this up for me. I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to backups in general, and it's a difficult topic for me to wrap my head around. In the past I have seen regular Windows Server 2003 backups done via Backup Exec backing up the System State, all of C, and file-level backups along with the infostore, and I'm a little uncertain as to what may be different in SBS using NTBackup. I have also never had to actually restore a downed server before <knocks on wood>, and I'm trying to create a "documented plan" for what to do when it happens (I've been told it's always when, not 'if').

    Thanks again.

    **Edited** After reading the MS article again at Technet I now understand that the domain restoration is done after the initial re-installation by pressing F8 and pointing it to my NTBackup of System State. I guess that answers questions 1 and 2; system state is needed to do the DC restore.
    Last edited by iglablues; 20th October 2010, 15:35.

  • #2
    Re: Seeking clarification on backup/restore options for SBS 2003 SP2

    ASR basically saves your partition data to a diskette so that you have the same number and size of partitions (this may be redundant in case of a new server)
    The backup wizard in the server management console gives you all you need.
    In case of disaster, and not using ASR, partition the disks in the same way as before; install a baseline SRV 2003 and then run ntbackup to restore.
    If you are not comfortable with this, try it in a virtual environment until you are comfortable.

    Steven Teiger [SBS-MVP(2003-2009)]
    Iím honoured to have been selected for the SMB 150 list for 2013. This is the third time in succession (no logo available for 2011) that I have been honoured with this award.

    We donít stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.


    • #3
      Re: Seeking clarification on backup/restore options for SBS 2003 SP2

      Thank you.