Product Reviews

Recover Me

True Image Server for Windows can take away your worries about accurate and efficient server recovery.

Think of how you currently back up and restore your servers. You probably back up the System State and all data on the machine. That's easy enough; the tough part is restoring the server.

Recovery requires rebuilding the server, reinstalling all the applications, patching the OS and applications, and restoring the System State and all the data. It's a time-consuming process, to say the least.

True Image Server 8.0 for Windows backs up your server by creating a precise duplicate copy of the hard drive at the sector level. It saves this copy to an image file. Because this image file is a snapshot of the hard drive, it contains everything you need for full recovery (such as the OS, applications, database files and so on).

True Image Server differs from other imaging products in that it makes an image of your hard drive while the server is online. Unlike most imaging products, you don't have to reboot the server to make an image. This means you can back up your server without losing valuable production time.

Disk imaging is just one of the functions that True Image Server provides (see Figure 1). It also does disk backups, disk deployment (formatting and partitioning) and disk wiping, but the disk backup feature alone is worth the price.

Acronis TrueImage Server
Figure 1. True Image Server's intuitive interface makes it easy to choose tasks like creating, exploring or restoring an image. (Click image to view larger version.)

You can write backup images to numerous devices: the same drive you're backing up, another drive in the server, network drive, tape drive, removable storage drive (like firewire or USB), or a writable CD or DVD drive. True Image Server can repartition your hard drive to create a hidden partition called the Acronis Secure Zone where you can store your backup images. (You do, however, have to reboot after changing the size of the boot partition.) When writing the backup image to the same disk being backed up, you should copy the image to another drive as soon as possible to guard against drive failure and potential loss of the image file.

Documentation 10% ————— 6
Installation 10% ——————— 6
Feature Set 40% ——————— 8
Performance 20% —————— 8
Management 20% —————— 6

Overall Rating: 7.1
1: Virtually inoperable or nonexistent
5: Average, performs adequately
10: Exceptional

Backup Bit by Bit
True Image Server supports incremental backups by only imaging sectors that have changed since the last backup, reducing the amount of time required to perform nightly backups. You can also configure the system to verify images after you create them, ensuring good images that can be used safely and effectively for recovery.

I used True Image Server to back up one of my Internet Security and Acceleration (ISA) 2004 servers running on Windows 2003 Standard Edition. I resized my boot partition to establish an Acronis Secure Zone partition to hold my backup image, a process that took only a few minutes to complete.

True Image Server backed up 3GB of data to my local drive in about six minutes and to a network drive in about 12 minutes. I chose normal compression for my image file, which provides a good mix of performance and smaller image size. True Image Server restored my server in about 15 minutes, and everything worked perfectly afterward.

Other choices for image file configuration are no compression, high compression and maximum compression.

One feature I particularly appreciated is True Image Server's ability to mount an image as a drive. Clicking on the Explore Image icon starts a wizard that lets you select the image to explore and a drive letter to assign to the image. It then appears as a separate disk with its own drive letter, and you can copy files from it. This is nice if you corrupt a file on your server and only want to recover the corrupt file instead of restoring the entire drive.

Acronis True Image Server Product BoxInstallation Notes
True Image Server has low hardware requirements. It will run on any Pentium machine with at least 64MB RAM. It works with just about any OS, including all versions of DOS, Windows 3.1 and higher, Linux, FreeBSD, Solaris, SCO Unix, Unixware, OS/2, BeOS and QNX.

Installing True Image Server is a breeze, although it does require a reboot after installation. It also prompts you to create a restore CD or floppy during installation. You can do this after installation if you prefer, but you should do it soon to cover yourself in case of problems booting to your hard drive.

True Image Sever is very intuitive, with a well-designed console. Click on the icon for the task you want to accomplish (such as create image, restore image, schedule backup and so on), and it initiates a wizard that walks you through the process.

True Image Server is an efficient and easy way to back up your servers. It restores everything on your server quickly and easily. If you're looking for recovery software, then you should definitely add True Image Server 8.0 for Windows to the list.

About the Author

Chad Todd, MCSE, MCT, CNE, is the author of Hack Proofing Windows 2000 Server by Syngress Publishing. He is the co-owner of Training Concepts, which specializes in Windows 2000 and Cisco training.


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