Disaster Recovery

DIY: Get reliable disaster recovery for free

Jack Wallen explains what he likes about Redo Backup and Recovery, and then describes how to use the Linux-based, Live CD, disaster recovery solution.

When you find a free disaster recovery solution, you can assume that: It's probably based on Linux, and it's not going to be fully automated -- if at all. There are two reasons why these concerns should not be an issue:

  • Most Linux-based disaster recovery solutions are in the form of a Live CD, so no installation or (in most cases) knowledge of Linux is needed.
  • Disaster recovery isn't necessarily a task that should be automated. I've seen plenty of automated tasks fail without anyone knowing, so when it came time to rely on that automated service, it wasn't there.

I've tried a lot of disaster recovery solutions, and Redo Backup and Recovery is one of the easiest to use. The Linux-based, Live CD, disaster recovery solution is also reliable and free.

Features

  • No installation necessary
  • Lightning fast booting
  • Very user-friendly GUI
  • Works with both Linux and Windows file systems
  • Network share aware
  • Rescue data from non-booting system
  • Network-able
  • Drive-reset utility
  • Manage drives
  • Full suite of machine auditing software

How to use

The process for using Redo Backup and Recovery is incredibly simple:

  1. Download the ISO image for Redo.
  2. Burn the ISO onto CD.
  3. Boot the newly burned CD on the machine to be backed up.
  4. Select the Backup option (Backup or Restore) from the GUI (Figure A).
  5. If backing up to a network drive, make sure to use the network manager tool (in the system tray) to connect to the necessary network.
  6. Walk through the wizard to set up your backup.
  7. Make sure to select the correct location to store the backup (either attached external drive or network share).

Now let the backup complete.

Figure A

The Options button (at the bottom left corner) includes launchers for File Manager, Image viewer, terminal, text editor, web browser, disk tools, and various settings.

During the backup process, there will be various files associated with the running backup, including:

  • .backup
  • .mbr
  • .sfdisk
  • .size
  • _part*
Each of the _part files will end up being 2 Gb. As a _part file fills up to 2 Gb, Redo Backup and Recovery will move on to the next _part file until the entire drive is backed up. Caution: Do not delete any of the files because doing so will destroy the backup.

Depending upon the type of backup you do (network or connected external drive), as well as the size of the drive on the source, the length of time for the backup to complete will vary. I managed a 30 Gb backup to a networked share in about 90 minutes -- and that was over a wireless connection.

The restore process is equally as easy, only in reverse. Note: The process will only restore to identical hardware.

How to use from USB

It is also possible to have Redo Backup and Recovery on a USB drive for portability. Do not install Redo Backup and Recovery onto a flash drive using a tool like UNetbootin; instead, use the built-in tool that can be found (while Redo is running) by clicking the Settings button and going to Administration | Create Bootable USB. This will start a new wizard that will help you create a bootable, portable installation of Redo Backup and Recovery. Once this flash drive is done, you will be able to boot from it and work Redo's backup and restore magic without having to tote around a disk.

The verdict

Although Redo Backup and Recovery will not automate the process of backing up and restoring from bare metal, the solution does make it possible. The only downside (and this is crucial) is that, in order to have a backup available to restore from, you have to back up the machine.

With the help of Redo Backup and Recovery and a set-in-stone backup schedule (which you will have to run manually), you can recover from a disaster quickly and with very little stress. This makes good DIY sense.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

14 comments
CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I can't figure out what format to specify to back up to a Windows-based network share. Redo works okay to a USB drive, but I'd like to back directly up to a server instead. I've tried multiple varations of the FQDN, server\share, IP\share, credentials, no credentials, domain, no domain, etc. I can ping the desired server by name and IP address. What few other Linux skills I had have atrophied to the point where I don't remember much else in the way of troubleshooting the connection.

bkindle
bkindle

I have been looking for a good live cd to do recovery and other functions for a while, and have found it. Thanks for the great article! I just used this utility a few days ago to test a cheap deployment structure for new PC's and this worked great. I have never seen an easier distro to use to image a pc across a network. If I can't afford the industrial grade acronis, I can make due with redo backup at work.

jnkbcs
jnkbcs

I stumbles on this awhile back: http://www.fogproject.org/ i was able to get it installed and backing up several machines. its all open source and linux based. very easy to use and setup.

greavette
greavette

I support our small office remotely and can't shutdown the servers to do my backups. So I've recently begun using ODIN (Open Disk Imager for Windows). It doesn't cover my linux backups (but they are all virtual machines anyway) but it does allow me to hot backup my windows servers using a script. It's even portable (run from a usb stick with no install) so for my recovery I use a WinPe usb stick I've created so I can walk anyone at the office through how to recover when necessary.

Spitfire_Sysop
Spitfire_Sysop

The reason this is important is that there may be a way to create a backup without booting to the LiveCD. I agree that scheduling downtime for the creation of a backup is unreasonable. The alternatives I can think of are: 1. Find a way of making a compatible backup file by other means from within other OS environments. 2. Run the LiveCD in a VirtualBox and create the backup without shutting down.

PChem
PChem

Cloning a HD is the easy part and is accomplished by the backup-program of your choice. Restoring to a new HD is also easy, using bootable Rescue CD (usually Linux). But a glaring omission from most backup strategies is when the MB goes up in smoke (yes they do!) and you have to restore to a completely new PC with different hardware (CPU, Chipset, etc.) . Just restoring a cloned image will NOT work. You need a backup program that can handle the new hardware. One such option (certainly are others) is Acronis Backup & Restore 10; although capable of Enterprise centrally managed operation, it works quite well stand-alone on a PC. The optional "Univeral Restore" allows you to put the required drivers on the new PC as well as the OS restore. You can be back up and running in a few hours after that capacitor fails on the MB.

hadrins
hadrins

This appears to be a nice solution for a small office or home office, if you can then save that data off site. I wouldn't want to use it in an enterprise setting though. I can think of a great solution by a company (I am not going to spam you guys.) that is a life saver. And for the cost of less than $500.00 there is not reason to not use it. I only wish they had a windows product.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

S/he's already doing the IT as an extra, over-and-above part of his/her line of business job; now s/he has to make sure to be at the office after everyone else has gone home, in order to take the server(s) down and back them up, wait for the backup to complete, and reboot again!? Hmm, afraid this is going to have little appeal in any of my sites :-(

dpeter
dpeter

I have been using clonezilla and the success rate is not very high for me. How is Fog working for you? How long have you been using it?

SkyNET32
SkyNET32

I never liked Acronis, so I switched to using Storagecraft's ShadowProtect. Works very well, and their WinPE based Recovery Tool is very good.. No need to worry about restoring to a different HD or a totally different box.

Solenoid
Solenoid

I use Clonezilla for a small office, 3 times a year and upon release of new computers to users. I'm interested in Jack's suggestion as an alternative. It sounds similar to and prettier than Clonezilla. I agree that it's not a viable possibility for medium or large businesses. @adrin, endorsement based on experience is sharing your knowledge among peers, unless you are marketing the product. Frankly, it's why I frequent this site. Please be more specific. There are many reasonable solutions under $500. Which one is the indispensable one you speak of? Aside, why the enterprise-oriented comments on Jack's DIY blog? You're not the intended audience, even if you're able to read it. Recognize the intent, and that sometimes it's just not about you (DB). I value his insights, as applicable.

seanferd
seanferd

I don't get it. If you're focusing on the backup operation, which clearly, Jack is not, then no, larger shops with frequent backups would obviously not want to do it that way.

hadrins
hadrins

Guess i should come back and read the post. I have used Lone-tar for years, It is great when you are replacing a dead drive. Usually, less than an hour on site.

chrisbedford
chrisbedford

That's what my post said - "...take the server(s) down in order [i]to back them up[/i]..." etc etc. Obviously you don't want DR unattended, but to have to do a routine job (backups) manually is a waste of time. Particularly if it involves a couple of TB of data. Not many people I know have an extra 3 hours to dedicate to tooling around the office after hours *every day*.

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