Questions

Using Disk2vhd for disaster recovery

Tags: Windows, Operating Systems, Networking
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0 Votes

Using Disk2vhd for disaster recovery

dnnymitc
I have a dental office that had a server and ~10 systems deployed. One of the things I fear most is walking in and my server has crashed. That can mean anything from 1-3 days of downtime and that is assuming that my nightly and offline backups are valid.

What I am thinking of doing is adding a disk2vhd script to my nightly backup sessions that will create a virtual snapshot of my server.

The question is:
- Can I then boot to that server on another Win7 pro machine and use it just like my server was still functioning.

- If not, why not and what would I need to do to get it running.
- What would be the limitations of the server in that system assuming it will run and function.
- Would I have to touch all of the systems to get them configured?

The current virtual machine solutions are pretty cost prohibitive. I would like to think I have some chance of success before beginning to experiment.

Thank you...

Member Answers

    • +
      0 Votes
      Stan Reeser

      Using Disk2VHD for Hyper-V P2V (Physical to Virtual) Conversions
      On 06.05.12, In Hyper-V Articles, by Eric Siron
      http://www.altaro.com/hyper-v/using-disk2vhd-for-physical-to-virtual-conversions-p2v/

      A simple backup system with disk2vhd
      http://notes.ponderworthy.com/A simple backup system with disk2vhd

      Walkthrough: Deploy a Virtual Hard Disk for Native Boot
      http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd744338(WS.10).aspx

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      0 Votes
      Stan Reeser

      For some reason I couldn't edit my post sorry to make this another post.

      VHD files are not incremental, so each time you run disk2vhd it will create a copy as large as your existing disk, so you will need to manage the copies as it will use lots of space unless you only keep a couple copies at a time.

      Second, using azure or Hyper-V the VHD will need to be made part of a VM but again Hyper-V Server 2012 is free (and quite good if you are proficient at remote admin)

      Not sure by what you mean in "touch all systems to get them configured" If you boot to the VHD on your Win7 Pro, you may need to set your IP address to the server's old address, but short of that it should be just like the old box.

      Best thing to do is try it in advance, most of the options above are FREE, so try disk2vhd and see what you get.

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      0 Votes
      Stan Reeser

      For some reason I couldn't edit my post sorry to make this another post.

      VHD files are not incremental, so each time you run disk2vhd it will create a copy as large as your existing disk, so you will need to manage the copies as it will use lots of space unless you only keep a couple copies at a time.

      Second, using azure or Hyper-V the VHD will need to be made part of a VM but again Hyper-V Server 2012 is free (and quite good if you are proficient at remote admin)

      Not sure by what you mean in "touch all systems to get them configured" If you boot to the VHD on your Win7 Pro, you may need to set your IP address to the server's old address, but short of that it should be just like the old box.

      Best thing to do is try it in advance, most of the options above are FREE, so try disk2vhd and see what you get.

      +
      0 Votes
      Stan Reeser

      It is an unsupported (at least officially) tool the sysinternals team at MSFT has made available. You run it on a system in its running state and it uses Volume Shadow Services to create a copy of the "drive" to a VHD. The trick here is you need to copy the what is presented as the entire disk (ie the entire disk you see in System Manager under Disk Management ) if you copy less you will get "phantom volumes". This file you get is a VHD and not a snapshot. As robo_dev commented snapshots are not a good backup tool and I agree. You do not need to worry about this in terms of snapshots and aggregations, but it is something you will have to do something else with to use it as a server. You can use the VHD in Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure offering, you can configure Win 7 and 8 to boot to a VHD file, you can set up Hyper-V (free core version) or Windows 2008/2012 Hyper-V server on a box that will support it, or you can use it to rebuild the drive on the physical box. None of these are exclusive.

      Virtual machines however do have limitations, most of them being hardware related, so if you have any "devices" attached to your server they will not function in the VM (tape drives, USB, non-networked printers, proprietary connections, etc.)
      Finally, I don't recommend this for your sole backup though given it is UNSUPPORTED. There are many better alternatives especially for data backup. If this is a second tier backup or a DR implementation for a server that provides some sort of services then this can be an effective tool.

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      0 Votes
      robo_dev

      Free is good.

      Be careful in that in the virtual world, particularly VMware, snapshots are not the same thing as incremental backups. The process of reverting to a snapshot can be extraordinarily difficult if not impossible if multiple snapshots exist, as the process aggregates VHDs from each successive snapshot. Without getting into the details, just make sure you understand that snapshots are intended to undo changes, not be your backup solution.

    • +
      0 Votes
      robo_dev

      Free is good.

      Be careful in that in the virtual world, particularly VMware, snapshots are not the same thing as incremental backups. The process of reverting to a snapshot can be extraordinarily difficult if not impossible if multiple snapshots exist, as the process aggregates VHDs from each successive snapshot. Without getting into the details, just make sure you understand that snapshots are intended to undo changes, not be your backup solution.

      +
      0 Votes
      Stan Reeser

      It is an unsupported (at least officially) tool the sysinternals team at MSFT has made available. You run it on a system in its running state and it uses Volume Shadow Services to create a copy of the "drive" to a VHD. The trick here is you need to copy the what is presented as the entire disk (ie the entire disk you see in System Manager under Disk Management ) if you copy less you will get "phantom volumes". This file you get is a VHD and not a snapshot. As robo_dev commented snapshots are not a good backup tool and I agree. You do not need to worry about this in terms of snapshots and aggregations, but it is something you will have to do something else with to use it as a server. You can use the VHD in Microsoft's Azure cloud infrastructure offering, you can configure Win 7 and 8 to boot to a VHD file, you can set up Hyper-V (free core version) or Windows 2008/2012 Hyper-V server on a box that will support it, or you can use it to rebuild the drive on the physical box. None of these are exclusive.

      Virtual machines however do have limitations, most of them being hardware related, so if you have any "devices" attached to your server they will not function in the VM (tape drives, USB, non-networked printers, proprietary connections, etc.)
      Finally, I don't recommend this for your sole backup though given it is UNSUPPORTED. There are many better alternatives especially for data backup. If this is a second tier backup or a DR implementation for a server that provides some sort of services then this can be an effective tool.

      +
      0 Votes
      Stan Reeser

      For some reason I couldn't edit my post sorry to make this another post.

      VHD files are not incremental, so each time you run disk2vhd it will create a copy as large as your existing disk, so you will need to manage the copies as it will use lots of space unless you only keep a couple copies at a time.

      Second, using azure or Hyper-V the VHD will need to be made part of a VM but again Hyper-V Server 2012 is free (and quite good if you are proficient at remote admin)

      Not sure by what you mean in "touch all systems to get them configured" If you boot to the VHD on your Win7 Pro, you may need to set your IP address to the server's old address, but short of that it should be just like the old box.

      Best thing to do is try it in advance, most of the options above are FREE, so try disk2vhd and see what you get.

      +
      0 Votes
      Stan Reeser

      For some reason I couldn't edit my post sorry to make this another post.

      VHD files are not incremental, so each time you run disk2vhd it will create a copy as large as your existing disk, so you will need to manage the copies as it will use lots of space unless you only keep a couple copies at a time.

      Second, using azure or Hyper-V the VHD will need to be made part of a VM but again Hyper-V Server 2012 is free (and quite good if you are proficient at remote admin)

      Not sure by what you mean in "touch all systems to get them configured" If you boot to the VHD on your Win7 Pro, you may need to set your IP address to the server's old address, but short of that it should be just like the old box.

      Best thing to do is try it in advance, most of the options above are FREE, so try disk2vhd and see what you get.

      +
      0 Votes
      Stan Reeser

      Using Disk2VHD for Hyper-V P2V (Physical to Virtual) Conversions
      On 06.05.12, In Hyper-V Articles, by Eric Siron
      http://www.altaro.com/hyper-v/using-disk2vhd-for-physical-to-virtual-conversions-p2v/

      A simple backup system with disk2vhd
      http://notes.ponderworthy.com/A simple backup system with disk2vhd

      Walkthrough: Deploy a Virtual Hard Disk for Native Boot
      http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/library/dd744338(WS.10).aspx