Testing your back up and recovery system

Because it is critical the entire backup and restore process be verified, you should develop backup and restore strategies with appropriate resources and personnel, and then test them. Testing backup strategies shows how much time is required to restore data. A good backup plan ensures fast restoration

of lost data.

To verify that your files are properly backed up, perform a trial restoration periodically to uncover hardware problems that may not show up during software verification.

There are two main procedures to test the fitness of data backups, including a monthly test restore and a periodic system failure simulation.

Monthly Test Restore

A monthly test restore involves selecting a recent backup and restoring a small number of data files from different locations on the backup media to a temporary folder on the Small Business Server 2000 computer. Once restored, the files should then be opened, changed, and saved. While not a guarantee, a monthly test restore helps to verify the recoverability of your backed-up data and to identify potentially defective backup media.

Periodic System Failure Simulation

Small business owners, often without full knowledge of the business staff, have a technology consultant arrive unannounced at the site and create a simulated system failure. This is typically contracted for once per year. It enables the customer to assess the fitness of its data backups and the ability to recover from a system failure. As part of this exercise, the technology consultant often invites an employee from the customer site, retains a recent backup tape, and visits another site, known as a “”hot site.”” The hot site may even be the technology consultant’s office. At the hot site, a full restore is performed to another computer.

This exercise typically reveals weaknesses in the recovery plan in a controlled environment, before a real system failure occurs.

Backing Up Data from Small Business Server

There are many important data sources in a Small Business Server computer. Depending on the type of use required from the server and the criticality of the data contained in each data source, you may need to adjust your backup plan priorities to match the importance of the data sources.

Backing Up User Data

During Setup, Small Business Server installs and configures several shared folders. Two are used to store user data, as follows:

Users should save the files they want to be backed up to one of these two locations. This approach centralizes and reduces the numbers of places where user-related data is stored and simplifies the backup plan. It also guarantees that all files users consider important are properly backed up.

Depending on your customer, user data may also be stored in other locations. It is important that you identify these locations and determine if they need to be backed up or not. For example, if users log on to the server and store data in their profiles, you need to consider backing up the Documents and Settings folder (typically, C:\Documents and Settings, where C:\ is the drive in which Windows is installed) or moving data from this location to another folder that is being backed up.

Backing Up Exchange Data

The Backup Utility can be used to back up Microsoft Exchange 2000 Server information stores. The information stores are the databases used by Exchange to store mailboxes, public folders, documents, files, and applications. Data related to the Exchange configuration is part of the System State data, which needs to be backed up separately and is covered in the next section.

Because Exchange 2000 Server is backed up at the information-store level when the Microsoft Exchange options are selected in the Backup Utility, it is not possible to restore an individual mailbox or individual piece of e-mail using Backup Utility. Some third-party tape backup applications have the ability to restore at the individual mailbox level. This is referred as “brick-level backup” or “individual mailbox backup.”

Backing Up System State Data

System state data includes the following files:

  • Boot files (including system files) and all files protected by Windows File Protection
  • Active Directory
  • Sysvol
  • Certificate Services (only if the Small Business Server computer is a certification authority)
  • The registry
  • Component Services Class registration database

System state backup and restore operations include all system state data. You cannot choose to back up or restore individual components because of dependencies among the system state components. However, you can restore system state data to an alternate location in which only the registry files, Sysvol folder files, and system boot files are restored. The Active Directory database, Certificate Services database, and Component Services Class Registration database are not restored to the alternate location.

Backing Up Other Data Sources

In addition to user data and the system state, you should determine whether or not to backup other data as needed. For example, if you are running an internal Web site (an intranet) for your company, you should back up \Inetpub and data from third-party applications, such as accounting or payroll data. You may want to store a copy of the SQL Server backup in a folder to be included in the data backup.

Items Not to Back Up

Because the most straightforward recovery method involves reinstalling Small Business Server, operating system or application-specific files and directories should not be backed up. This includes WINNT, Program Files, Client Apps, and any third-party application folders. In most cases, you do not need to backup entire disk drives or disk partitions (unless they are data partitions). Doing so can add unnecessary time to the backup process and require the purchase of larger or additional backup media.

Additionally, you should not back up the Exchange (M:) drive. This is a drive mapping used by Exchange. Attempting to back up or restore the Exchange (M:) drive can damage the database and affect users’ ability to access their Exchange data. 


Collecting and Recording System Information

It is important to collect basic information about your system and store it in a safe place before a system failure occurs. The information contained in the following table is vital when restoring your system.


Remotely Monitoring Backup

Small Business Server 2000 provides a series of tools that enable you to remotely monitor Small Business Server computers. One such tool, Server Status Reports, allows you to receive periodic performance reports by e-mail. The reports contain a series of performance counters, as well as a list of services installed on your server and their status. You can configure Server Status Reports to send logs periodically to you.

By default, event logs, Microsoft Internet Information Services (IIS) 5.0 and Microsoft Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) Server 2000 logs are available in Server Status Reports. This list can be extended to include any other log files available on the server. You can, for example, extend it to include Backup Utility logs or the log files generated by a third-party backup application.

You can configure Server Status Reports to be sent periodically to your e-mail account with the backup logs. These logs will inform you which files and folders were backed up and the results of key operations such as loading a tape, starting a backup job, or failing to open a file.

For more information about Server Status Reports or how to add log files, see “Configure Server Status Reports” in Small Business Server Help.

By default, the Backup Utility log files are stored in:
C:\Documents and Settings\Administrator\Local Settings\Application Data\Microsoft\Windows NT\NTBackup\data directory.

Running the Backup Utility

The Windows 2000 Server Backup Utility allows you to backup data on the Small Business Server computer. These backups can be performed manually or scheduled to occur at defined intervals. The Backup Utility also allows you to restore data should it become necessary.

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