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Bare-Metal Restore: How to Protect Your Business
Bare-Metal Restore: How to Protect Your Business
Ever had to do a bare-metal restore in which you’re reinstalling your business systems onto new hardware that doesn’t even have an operating system installed? Without the right approach, it can be a painful process. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
An Often Overlooked Need for Bare-Metal Restore
There are still sysadmins who figure they won’t have a need for bare-metal restore. They invest in the best servers. They have server redundancy. They even run their servers in a part of the country that’s not prone to natural disasters.
Fair enough. But what about OS upgrades? Unexpected things can happen through no fault of your own. Before you embark on these projects, it’s best practice to create a thorough backup of your entire business environment. That way, if the update leaves the system unable to boot, you are not left with a cold box. You need an easy way to roll backup the system to what you had before so that your business can keep working as your IT team plans its next step forward.
How Most Companies Approach Backups (and Why They’re Not Really Protected)
When it comes to disaster recovery, most companies fall into one of two camps:
- They back up their data but not their OS. They will have to reinstall their OS before they can even think about restoring data from their backups. For them, restoring the entire system will be a long and involved process.
Reinstalling an OS is so much more than just pulling out DVDs and installing them, onto the new server. As you’ve probably experienced, you must also reinstall all the security patches and updates that have been issued for that OS since the initial release. You’re probably looking at many hours of downtime for your systems and lost revenue for your business.
- They take image-based backups. This approach can work if the company is planning on restoring systems onto exactly the same hardware. But with the pace of change in computer hardware, it’s not always a given that a company will be able to find the same model of server with the exact same storage two years later. Since an image-based recovery is all or nothing, reinstalling the operating system isn’t really an option as the data is locked inside the disk image.
Bottom line: when image-based backups work, they work really well. When they don’t (and this is all too common), you are left with a system image that you effectively cannot use.
A Better Approach to Bare-Metal Restore
As you can see, both of the above approaches have severe limitations. We recommend an entirely different way of preparing for the dreaded bare-metal restore. We call it Adaptable System Recovery (ASR). This is a file-level backup that includes your entire system—OS, business applications, and data. Yes, that’s a lot to back up, but it gives you at least three advantages in the event of a server crash or even a natural disaster:
- You won’t have to reinstall your OS before recovering your data. you can just restore the entire system exactly as it was at the time of your latest backup.
- You won’t have to find hardware that exactly matches your old one. Your full-system backup will work on any hardware (physical or virtual).
- You can select which files you want to restore. Our file-level backups aren’t all-or-nothing like an image-based backup. So if you’re concerned that some of your files might have been corrupted or were erased by mistake, you can play it safe and restore only the ones you need.
Does This Work for Virtual Machines? Of Course!
Some sysadmins will read this and say, “Oh, this doesn’t apply to us. We use virtual machines, so we’ll never have to do a bare-metal restore.” But that’s not quite true. What we’re talking about here is any restore in which you have to start by reinstalling the operating system. It makes no difference whether you’re running physical or virtual machines; if there’s an OS reinstall involved, then you’re going to spend hours rebuilding your systems and business is going to be at a standstill until you finish.
But what about VM snapshots? Don’t they provide the kind of protection for virtual machines that we’re talking about here for physical machines? Not exactly. Much like image-based backups, VM snapshots are all-or-nothing. You lose the flexibility to decide which files you want to backup or restore. And so, as we said, you’re going to be in a tough position if you need to just recover system files and don’t want to replace the entire virtual machine. We say full-system backups with ASR is a much better approach.
Restore With Confidence
We would love to chat with you about protecting your business by preparing you for a fast, seamless bare-metal restore. For a free, no-pressure consultation, call us at (877) 786-7491.