Backup and RecoveryTo recover a system, you have the options of a granular file restore, full system restore from bare metal, full system restore from bare metal on dissimilar hardware, or conversion of your backup files to a Microsoft, VMware, or VirtualBox compatible virtual machine (VM). ShadowProtect Server also supports Microsoft Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), so you can safely back up servers running applications such as Microsoft Exchange Server 2007 or SQL Server 2005.
Supported backup destinations include local directories and network shares. StorageCraft has done away with tape but suggests two options for tape-like archiving needs. One option is to archive to a locally attached USB drive, then take the drive offsite and lock it in a safe just as you would with tape.
Another option is to keep an online archive by doing a full system backup, physically transport the full backup to a remote site, and place it on a file share. You’d then point a second backup routine at the remote site file share and configure this backup routine to only perform incremental backups to the remote share. This approach avoids the necessity of copying the large full system backup across a WAN link. In addition, incremental backups can be scheduled to be copied across the network without affecting business operations because the incremental backups are a much smaller file size. These incremental backups can be configured to run at any hour of the day and as often as every 15 minutes. You can also configure ShadowProtect Server to send daily and weekly status reports telling you whether each one of the backup jobs completed or failed. As these incremental backups begin to accumulate, you can use the included ShadowProtect ImageManager tool to verify and consolidate your incremental backups down to weekly or monthly backups. By default, ImageManager verifies new backups as they complete; you can specify the number of days before the backups are rechecked. Meanwhile, your onsite backup routine continues creating full backups every week or month, with daily or hourly incremental backups at the same location as the server for quick recovery in the event of a server disaster. Without an automated tool such as ImageManager, I’d recommend archiving these remote files and starting the process over every few months. The idea of using another product without something like ImageManager and having to restore from literally hundreds or possibly even thousands of incremental backups would make me a little uncomfortable.
TestingTo evaluate ShadowProtect Server, I installed the product on my Windows 2003 machine. (Supported server OSs include Windows 2000 Server SP4 through Server 2008 R2.) Installation is a breeze; you simply insert the CD-ROM, select your product, and click Next until the product successfully installs. After the installation completed, I created two shared folders on my server. Then I used ShadowProtect Server to perform a full backup. I added content to both shares from the NAS device and performed an incremental backup. Next, I created a task to email me status reports of backup jobs on a weekly basis. I selected the option to have ShadowProtect Server send a test report and immediately received the status report in my Gmail Inbox. Then, I shut down the server and replaced the Windows 2003 machine’s drive with a drive of about the same size.
Next, I booted from the Shadow-Protect Server CD-ROM into the graphical StorageCraft Recovery Environment. When you start the StorageCraft Recovery Environment, you can choose between a Server 2008–based or Windows 2003 environment. Technically, you can use either environment to perform a restore; however, the Windows 2003 environment includes the option to press F6 and load device drivers if necessary. If you’re restoring to newer hardware, you’ll want to choose the Server 2008 environment because it’s more likely to have the necessary hardware drivers. From the Windows 2003 recovery environment I was able to easily map a network drive to the NAS device and start the recovery process. In less than 15 minutes, the recovery process completed and the server (including 8GB of data) was identical to before I exchanged the hard drives.