Windows server backup in Windows Server 2008 R2

Take a look at the best practices for Windows server backup in Windows Server 2008 R2, including configuring backup settings and performing system state and bare-metal backups.

Solutions provider takeaway: This chapter excerpt provides information on Windows server backup in Windows Server 2008 R2. You will learn how to configure backup settings, back up specific files and perform system state and bare-metal backups.

About the book
This chapter excerpt on Backing Up and Recovering Your Server (download PDF) is taken from the book Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Administration Instant Reference. Solutions providers will find this book valuable, because it provides information on automating tasks, managing storage, backup and recovery as well as performance tuning and maintaining virtual servers. You will also learn about managing users, groups, directories and centralized desktops.

Manage Backup and Recovery

Now that you have seen some of the tools for backups and recovery, it is time to put them to use. When you perform backups traditionally, you want to have the backups on a schedule so you are sure they are happening at regular intervals. This will make finding the right media for recovery easy. Even though backup and recovery are performed separately, they are joined together in form and function. The type of backup you perform will always dictate the recovery options available to you. In reality, the backup strategy is determined by your recovery requirements and what your service-level agreement is with your users and business. Is it OK if a user has to wait 24 hours to recover a file? What if the user is the CEO? Is it OK to turn off a server during work hours? What if the server is mission critical to your organization? These are all key questions, among many others, that you need to address when defining your policies and procedures and determining the best way to handle the needs of your organization.

Whether you choose to perform backup and recovery tasks with the GUI, command-line tool, or the PowerShell cmdlets, you are essentially performing the same task. In this section, you will learn how to use the backup and recovery tools to perform your daily tasks. Not that to perform either backup or recovery, you do need to be a member of the Backup Operators or Administrators groups.

Back Up Your Server

After you have determined your backup strategy, it is time to back up the server. When you back up your server, you want to make sure you schedule your backup times to not impact your network or your users. Try to schedule the backups after-hours, when the system is being used the least. You also want to make sure your backups complete in a timely manner; this is where knowing the difference between full and incremental backups can offer value to you and your organization.

Configure Backup Settings

Before you perform your backup, you may need to define your backup settings. You have only a few selections to make to configure your backup. Specifically, you need to determine whether you want to perform a full/normal backup, an incremental backup, or a custom combination of both of these methods. To configure your server, perform the following steps:

  1. Start Windows Server Backup by selecting Start ⇒ Administrative Tools ⇒ Windows Server Backup.
  2. In the right Actions task pane, click Configure Performance Settings; you will see a screen similar to Figure 8.7.
  3. Figure 8.7: Backup performance settings

    The three options listed determine how the backup will be performed. It is important for you to know the choices you make here will not be applied if you are backing up only system state.

    • Normal Backup Performance is the default method for Windows Server Backup, and this method will perform a normal backup.
    • Faster Backup Performance will perform an incremental backup for your system.
    • Custom will allow you to choose a combination of the previous two options for your drives. For example, you could perform a full backup on your data volume but only an incremental backup on your system drive.
  4. Select the setting for your system, and click OK.

Back Up Your Server

After you have installed the backup tools, it is now just a matter of setting up the tasks to begin protecting your system. When you are ready to perform the backup and you know what files and folders you want to protect, you are ready to set up the backup test and schedule.

The first time you load the tool, you will see a message telling you no backup has been configured and you need to either set up a backup schedule or set up a backup once to begin protecting your system. Whether you choose to create a backup schedule or perform a backup once, the choices in the wizard are the same, with the exception of configuring the schedule:

  1. Start Windows Server Backup by selecting Start ⇒ Administrative Tools ⇒ Windows Server Backup.
  2. To launch the backup wizard, in the Actions pane on the right, select Backup Schedule to create a regular backup task, or select Backup Once if you just want to perform an immediate backup. For this set of tasks, you will see the Backup Schedule choice.
  3. Review the Getting Started screen, and click Next to see a screen similar to Figure 8.8.
  4. Figure 8.8: Configuring the backup

  5. Select Full Server (Recommended), and click Next.
  6. Set your schedule; the default is once a day at 9 p.m. You can also configure multiple times a day to perform the backup. After you set your schedule, click Next.
  7. On the Specify Destination Type screen, as shown in Figure 8.9, you'll see two new choices in Windows Server 2008 R2; these allow you to store your backup to another volume and to a network share. These methods provide flexibility for your backup process that did not exist in prior versions of Windows servers. However, make sure you make note of the performance costs to your additional volume or network. You will have to decide what the right balance is for you and your organization. After you make your selection, click Next.
  8. Note: The first time you run the backup wizard, you may be asked to format the destination drive. When you select the default choice of Backup To Hard Disk That Is Dedicated For Backups, it will reformat the selected disk before the backup process begins. Make sure you have saved any necessary data off the drive. The format of the drive has to be NTFS; also, make sure you have at least 1½ times the free drive space compared to what you are backing up.

    Figure 8.9 : Backup destinations

  9. On the Select Destination Disk page, select where you want to store your backups. For a scheduled backup, this can be another hard drive or a network share. It cannot be an optical drive or removable media. However, you can use optical drives or removable media for backup-once backups, and these media choices provide a great choice for bare-metal backups. After you make your selection, click Next.
  10. If you are presented with a warning to format the disk and you are positive you want to use the selected disk, click Yes. Otherwise, click No, and select another drive to store your backup.
  11. Review the Confirmation screen, and click Finish to create the scheduled task for backup and format the volume (if this is your first time using Windows Server Backup). If you chose Backup Once, you will click Backup to immediately perform the backup.
  12. Review your Summary screen, and click Close.

Note: After you have run the backup wizard the first time, the next time you run it you will see a screen similar to Figure 8.10. This allows you to modify the existing backup or stop the backup process. You can still configure the backup once if you need to create new backups for different files or needs, like bare-metal recovery.

Figure 8.10: Modifying the existing backup schedule

Back Up Specific Files

In Windows Server Backup in Windows Server 2008, you had to back up the entire volume. In Windows Server 2008 R2, you now can include or exclude folders or individual files. You can also exclude files based on the file types with filters. For this purpose, you will see how to modify an existing backup schedule.

  1. Start Windows Server Backup by selecting Start ⇒ Administrative Tools ⇒ Windows Server Backup.
  2. To launch the backup wizard, in the Actions pane on the right, select Backup Schedule.
  3. On the Modify Backup Schedules screen, verify that Modify Backup is selected, and click Next.
  4. Select Custom, and click Next.
  5. On the Select Items For Backup screen, you will see what you are currently backing up. If want to add or remove from the backup, click Add Items, and you will see a screen similar to Figure 8.11.
  6. Figure 8.11: Backup item selection

  7. Select the items you want to add to or remove from the backup by selecting or deselecting the check boxes next to the items. If you want to select specific folders, click the + sign next to your listed hard drives to expand the directory tree and then make your folder selections. When you are done selecting items to back up, click OK.
  8. If you want to exclude certain files from your backup, such as temporary files (*.tmp) or music files (.wmv, .mp3, and so on), click the Advanced Settings button.
  9. Click Add Exclusion to select the drive or folders you want to apply your exclusions.
  10. Select the drive you want to use. Typically you will want your full volumes to have the exclusion applied. However, you can select individual folders or files to exclude directly. When you're done selecting your locations, click OK.
  11. To exclude certain files, click in the File Type column, and type in your exclusion. You can also specify whether you want apply the filter to the subfolders. For example, if you wanted to exclude .tmp files from your backup, type *.tmp. Your screen would look similar to Figure 8.12.
  12. Figure 8.12: Backup exclusions

    If you want to add more exclusions, click Add Exclusion, and repeat the process. Likewise, if you want to remove the exclusion, you can select it and click Remove Exclusion.

  13. When you are finished creating exclusions, click OK to proceed through the rest of the wizard.
  14. Set or modify your schedule, and click Next.
  15. Select your destination type, and click Next.
  16. Select the destination disk, and click Next.
  17. If you are presented with a warning to format the disk and you are positive you want to use the selected disk, click Yes. Otherwise, click No, and select another drive to store your backup.
  18. Review the Confirmation screen, and click Finish to create the scheduled task for backup and format the volume (if this is your first time using Windows Server Backup). If you chose Backup Once, you will click Backup to immediately perform the backup.
  19. Review your Summary screen, and click Close.

Perform a System State Backup

When you back up the system state, you are backing up a majority of the system configuration information. In Windows Server 2008 R2, you can perform the system state backup inside the Windows Server Backup Tool, and you do not have to solely use wbadmin.exe. Also, if you have installed additional roles on the Windows Server 2008 R2 server, your system state will contain more data. By default, on a server with no additional roles, the system state backup always contains the following components:

  • Registry
  • COM+ class registration database
  • Boot files, including system files
  • System files under Windows File Protection

If the system is a domain controller in addition to the default system state data, system state will contain the following:

  • Active Directory service
  • SYSVOL directory

About the authors

Matthew Hester has more than 10 years of experience as an IT professional at Microsoft. Hester specializes in client and server technology and is a regular contributor to TechNet magazine.

Chris Henley has worked with networking technologies for more than 17 years and is a member of the Microsoft TechNet Seminar Sales Team. Henley specializes in the design, implementation and support of Active Directory services.

If you have installed clustering on the server, the system state data will contain the clustering services information.

If you have installed a certificate services server, the system state data will contain the certificate services database.

If you have installed IIS, the system state data will contain the IIS metadirectory.

  1. Start Windows Server Backup by selecting Start ⇒ Administrative Tools ⇒ Windows Server Backup.
  2. To launch the backup wizard, in the Actions pane on the right, select Backup Schedule to create a regular backup task, or select Backup Once if you just want to perform an immediate backup. For this set of tasks, you will see the Backup Schedule choice.
  3. Review the Getting Started screen, and click Next.
  4. Select Custom, and click Next.
  5. On the Select Items For Backup screen, click Add Items.
  6. Click System State, click OK, and then click Next.
  7. If presented with a scheduling window, set or modify your schedule, and click Next.
  8. Select your destination type, and click Next.
  9. Select the destination disk, and click Next.
  10. If you are presented with a warning to format the disk and you are positive you want to use the selected disk, click Yes. Otherwise, click No, and select another drive to store your backup.
  11. Review the Confirmation screen, and click Finish to create the scheduled task for backup and format the volume (if this is your first time using Windows Server Backup). If you chose Backup Once, you will click Backup to immediately perform the backup.
  12. Review your Summary screen, and click Close.

Perform a Bare-Metal Backup

Another backup option that will provide you with a great option in case of a catastrophic failure is a bare-metal backup. The bare-metal backup will back up your system state, your system volume, and the system reserved data. This backup set is also unique in that you will need the Windows Server 2008 R2 installation media available during recovery.

This is a good time to use a USB drive or another portable media to store this backup. The main reason is because to perform the restore, you need to boot the system into the Windows Recovery Environment using a Windows Server 2008 R2 installation DVD.

  1. Start Windows Server Backup by selecting Start ⇒ Administrative Tools ⇒ Windows Server Backup.
  2. To launch the backup wizard, in the Actions pane on the right, select Backup Schedule to create a regular backup task, or select Backup Once if you just want to perform an immediate backup. For this set of tasks, you will see the Backup Schedule choice.
  3. Review the Getting Started screen, and click Next.
  4. Select Custom, and click Next.
  5. On the Select Items For Backup step, click Add Items.
  6. Click Bare Metal Recovery, and click OK; then click Next.
  7. If presented with a scheduling window, set or modify your schedule, and click Next.
  8. Select your destination type, and click Next.
  9. Select the destination disk, and click Next.
  10. If you are presented with a warning to format the disk and you are positive you want to use the selected disk, click Yes. Otherwise, click No, and select another drive to store your backup.
  11. Review the Confirmation screen, and click Finish to create the scheduled task for backup and format the volume (if this is your first time using Windows Server Backup). If you chose Backup Once, you will click Backup to immediately perform the backup.
  12. Review your Summary screen, and click Close.

Look at the Scheduled Tasks

Whenever you create a backup schedule, you may be wondering where the task is stored. The task is stored in the Task Scheduler tool, and you can view your backup tasks there. You can also run the task directly from the Task Scheduler. The tasks in the Task Scheduler have several properties you can modify, as shown in Table 8.2.

Table 8.2: Task Property Tabs

 

Property Tab Definition
General Contains the description, author, and what account will be used to run the command.
Triggers Determines when the task will be performed. In the case of a backup, the trigger is date and time.
Actions Determines what programs or commands will be run.
Conditions Specifies additional options, combined with the triggers, that determine whether the task should run.
Settings Controls additional behaviors of the task. An important setting here is Allow Task To Be Run On Demand. If you want to be able to run your tasks directly from the Task Scheduler, you have to select this setting to turn it on.
History Shows the past history of the task when it was run.

Property Tab Definition

  1. Click Start ⇒ Administrative Tools ⇒ Task Scheduler.
  2. Expand the tree to view the backup tasks. Click the + to expand Task Scheduler Library ⇒ Microsoft ⇒ Windows, and then click Backup.
  3. Double-click the task to view the properties of the backup task, and you will see a screen similar to Figure 8.13.

Figure 8.13: Backup task

You can also view the status of your backups and get more details on the main console page of the Windows Server Backup window, as shown in Figure 8.14.

Figure 8.14: Windows Server Backup

From the main console window, you can view the details, status, and next schedule for your backups and recovery processes. The Windows Server Backup Tool will show all the events with your backups and restores in this main console window.


Backing Up and Recovering Your Server
  Windows server backup in Windows Server 2008 R2
  Bare-metal, system state recovery in Windows Server 2008 R2

Printed with permission from Wiley Publishing Inc. Copyright 2010. Microsoft Windows Server 2008 R2 Administration Instant Reference by Matthew Hester and Chris Henley. For more information about this title and other similar books, please visit Wiley Publishing Inc.

This was first published in June 2010

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