PowerQuest to the Rescue
Disk Imaging Tools Bring Systems Back from the Dead.
Backing up systems is the easy part. Doing the restore—now that’s where the money is. And PowerQuest’s new breed of products literally comes to the rescue.
PowerQuest has three new products, all based on the same new underlying technology:
V2i Protector 2.0 Desktop Edition
V2i Protector 2.0 Server Edition
In a traditional backup, each file is copied—one by one—to the backup medium, whether a tape, CD-ROM or DVD. Another tried-and-true approach is to shut down the machine and use a disk imaging product, which works on the sector level to create a whole “image” of your current computer, lock, stock and barrel. The upside here is that you get a 100 percent point-in-time backup of your system; the downside is that you have to take the system offline, then run the imaging program to do its work.
PowerQuest’s new products take the concept of imaging to the next step.
From within Windows, the software creates a “point in time” backup and
copies the result to various media.
|PowerQuest DriveImage allows IT to
easily choose either full or incremental backups. (Click image to
view larger version.)
When someone from the sales team leaves a laptop at the airport security gate (and he or she will), recovery is easy—get a new laptop and pop in the product CD (which doubles as a bootable rescue disk) to locate the backed-up image. The magic here is that the rescue disk is exceptionally smart. Indeed, you can point the rescue disk to find saved images from locally attached media or even images preserved on network shares. You can literally “browse” over to the network share and pull the preserved system for a restore. I successfully tested both the Desktop and Server Editions with a locally attached Firewire device and also with my backup stored across the network.
This sounds great, and it is. The bad news is that any imaging technology typically only successfully restores the bootable partition when the restored system’s hardware is basically the same. Windows 2000 and Windows XP still aren’t smart enough to realize that the bootable partition has been teleported to radically different hardware. Therefore, restoration to alternate hardware could result in Blue Screens of Death, though the actual data is restored and accessible. Occasionally the use of the Windows Repair mode may (or may not) jumpstart the restored system back into booting again.
Here’s what to do with incompatible hardware. Once you reload the partition from scratch by loading the OS, mount the image as if it were a partition via a supplied utility. Then pick off files, such as RESUME.DOC, to be restored. Unfortunately, applications like Office will be gone, and need manual reinstallment.
V2i Protector 2.0 Desktop Edition has two key features that its home-edition cousin, DriveImage 7, lacks. It can perform incremental backups, capturing just what has changed since the last backup. And, it can be controlled centrally by an agent. Once the agent is in-structed how and when to back up, it will perform the backup to local media or across a network drive as instructed. It will also report to the freely downloadable V2i Management Console.
The V2i Protector Server Edition is just like the desktop edition, but will load on Windows servers (NT and up.) This could be a boon for File Servers, domain controllers, Exchange systems or SQL servers you don’t want to have to take offline, but want to have a full snapshot of for emergencies.
The Server edition can run batch files before (and after) the snapshot process. For example, you could shut down and make the Exchange database quiescent, perform the snapshot, and afterward (which takes only a moment) restart Exchange.
None of these products backs up directly to tape, but once you have the files it produces, using NTBACKUP to put them on tape is very simple. I’d like to see PowerQuest and others break through the “alternate hardware restoration” problem that plagues these types of restores. For instance, if you didn’t have the same laptop hardware to restore to, you could certainly get the data off the backup, but not get the machine back to the “point in time” these products strive to achieve.
Making it easy to back up data is one thing; making it easy to restore data is quite another. PowerQuest isn’t 100 percent there as the “holy grail” of backup, but its newest line of products takes a giant leap forward.
Jeremy Moskowitz, a Group Policy MVP, is the Chief Propeller-Head for Moskowitz, Inc. and GPanswers.com. He is one of less than a dozen Microsoft MVPs in Group Policy. Since becoming one of the world's first MCSEs, he has performed Active Directory and Group Policy planning and implementations for some of the nation’s largest organizations. His latest books are Group Policy Fundamentals, Security, and Troubleshooting and Creating the Secure Managed Desktop: Group Policy, SoftGrid, and Microsoft Deployment and Management Tools.