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Disaster Recovery refers to restoring the system and data in the event of a partial or complete failure of a computer.

Planning for Disaster Recovery

Disaster recovery requires that all relevant data be backed up. This usually requires several different backup sets of different backup types.

For easiest disaster recovery, simply back up everything, like so:

  • Create a File System backup set that contains all drives on the system. 
  • Create a System State backup set to get the system's registry, boot files, Active Directory, and more. 
  • Create one backup set for each database or application, such as Microsoft Exchange or Hyper-V, that is present on the system.
  • Ensure that a backup is taken of all data stored on the network, such as file shares or NAS devices.

If everything cannot be backed up for some reason, the following is the minimum required for disaster recovery:

  • A File System backup set that includes:
    • The entire system drive.
      • On most Windows system, C: is the system drive.
      • Temporary Files can be excluded.
      • Windows/system files can be excluded.
    • Database or application installation directories, if not on the system drive.
      • Any database or application that needs to be restored must have all of its files on disk backed up in addition to the databases themselves.
      • Database files, such as .mdf files for Microsoft SQL Server, that are backed up seprately as part of a Database or Application backup can be excluded.
    • User data that is not on the system drive.
  • A System State backup set.
  • A backup set for each type of Database or Application, such as Microsoft Exchange or Hyper-V.

Performing Disaster Recovery

Backups can be restored to a new machine. However, please ensure that all requirements for restore of each backup type are met before you begin.

It is recommended to use identical hardware to ensure that the System State backups restore correctly. The more dissimilar the hardware, the more likely that the System State restore will encounter problems.

The following is a high-level overview of the disaster recovery process. The details may vary based on the type of data to be restored.

  1. Install the same version of Windows as on the original system. This includes Service Packs.
    1. Ensure that the new system has the exact same hard drive partitions, Windows installation directory, and Host Name as the original server
    2. Do not place the system in a Windows Domain or Workgroup
  2. Log into the machine as an Administrator.
  3. Install ZCB and import your account's cloud certificate.
  4. Perform a Restore Catalog operation and restart ZCB when it is complete.
  5. Choose the File System backup set that contains your system drive.
  6. Go to the Restore page.
  7. Choose your restore point.
  8. Choose to restore to the Original Location and Overwrite Existing files.
  9. Begin the restore.
    1. Restore of some system files may fail because the system is in use. This is normal and should be expected. 
  10. Restore the File System backup set that houses your Application Installation Directories, if they exist and were separate from the System Drive backup set.
    1. Again, choose to restore to the Original Location with Overwrite Existing.
  11. Restore the System State backup to the Original Location with Overwrite Existing.
  12. Reboot the system after the System State restore is complete.
    1. Do not reboot until the System State restore is complete. The Windows installation may become corrupted if the system is rebooted after the File System restore is complete and before the System State restore is complete.
      1. If a reboot is performed at the wrong time, it is likely that the system will need to be formatted and the Disaster Recovery process restarted from the beginning.
  13. Once the server reboots, check to ensure that all Database servers and Applications are installed and in the running state, if they exist. Repair if necessary.
  14. Restore the Database or Application backups, if they exist. 

An example disaster recovery of files and system state can be found at Complete Disaster Recovery with ZCB.

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