I think I’ve said this before but I’ll say it again….as a consultant I see a lot of technologies and being a consultant also means that I am typically onsite for 1-3 weeks on a given project and then I’m gone to the next one.  One thing I don’t spend a great deal of time doing is basic Microsoft maintenance/backup/recovery tasks.  I had some time this week and was thinking, “How hard is it to recover from a complete domain failure using Backup Exec 2012?”  Why, who the heck knows but it was there.  So I used VMware Workstation to build the following: (“pretending” like these VMs are physical servers thought I don’t see many physical-only environments anymore)

  • DC01 – Windows Server 2008R2 Standard – Active Directory domain controller
  • BACKUP01 – Windows Server 2008R2 Standard – Backup Exec 2012 server
I then:
  • Created some OUs, user accounts, and security groups in my domain
  • From Symantec, downloaded the Backup Exec 2012 Installation and SDR (Simplified Disaster Recovery) ISOs
  • Installed Backup Exec 2012 on BACKUP01
  • Extracted the SDR ISO
  • Installed the Backup Exec Agent on DC01
  • Performed a backup of DC01 (to disk) using the One-Time Backup wizard
  • Used the Create Disaster Recovery Disk wizard to create a custom ISO based on the SDR ISO and the successful backup job 
  • Once the backup was successful, I shutdown DC01 and deleted the VM to simulate my complete domain failure

About Backup Exec SDR

Concerning SDR, the following text was taken from the Help Topics from within Backup Exec and provides a pretty good overview of SDR and its intended functionality.  In a nutshell, SDR makes it easier to restore machines that have experienced a hard-drive or system component failure.

Symantec Backup Exec Simplified Disaster Recovery (SDR) enables you to quickly and efficiently recover Windows computers after a hard drive failure.  The SDR wizards guide you in preparing for disaster recovery and in recovering a local or remote computer to its pre-disaster state.

Simplified Disaster Recovery (SDR) works with Backup Exec when you run backup jobs that include all critical system component selections.  For each computer that you protect with this type of backup job, Backup Exec creates a disaster recovery information file for that computer.  A disaster recovery information file contains computer-specific information for the computer being backed up.  Computer-specific information includes details such as hard disk layout, storage drivers, network drivers, and system version details.  It also includes Backup Exec catalog details such as backup set information and recovery point details.  Each disaster information recovery file uses the file name .DR.

Backup Exec automatically stores each disaster recovery information file it creates in a default location on the Backup Exec server.  Because the files are critical, Backup Exec also lets you specify an alternate storage location where an additional copy of each file can be stored.  Symantec recommends that you set a path to an alternate storage location.  If the Backup Exec server crashes, you won’t be able to retrieve the disaster recovery information file from the default location but you can retrieve it from the alternate location.

Each time Backup Exec runs a backup that includes all critical system components, the disaster recovery information files are automatically updated in each storage location.

SDR uses the computer-specific information that is contained in the file when you run the Recover This Computer Wizard.  Without a disaster recovery information file, a local recovery of the computer is not possible with SDR.

Simplified Disaster Recovery (SDR) is automatically installed on the Backup Exec server during the initial installation of Backup Exec. However, the Agent for Windows is required to protect remote computers with SDR. You must purchase the Agent for Windows separately, and then install it on the remote computers that you want to protect. The Agent for Windows is a system service that runs on remote servers and enhances backup and restore performance.

Creating the Disaster Recovery Disk

Once my backup of DC01 completed successfully, I used the Create Disaster Recovery Disk wizard to create a custom boot-able ISO used for SDRs.

1. Within BE, click the BE icon button on the upper right-hand side of the screen and then select Configuration and Settings | Create Disaster Recovery Disk

2. On the Welcome to the SDR Disk Creation Wizard screen, click Next.

3. On the Source Location screen, select From an image (.iso) file and then click Browse to specify the location of the SDR ISO downloaded from Symantec.  Click Next to continue.

4. On the Select computers to use the drivers from screen, select the computer to serve as the template for network and storage drivers and click Next.  In a production environment, I’m assuming you may consider created a SDR disk for each physical hardware type you support, or you may be able to use the “Drivers to Include” option shown on step #5 to consolidate various drivers onto a single SDR ISO.

5. On the Drivers to Include screen, select Add Driver to browse for additional driver .INF files to load into this SDR ISO and click Next.

6. On the Select Location for CD Image screen, enter a Volume Label and Image file name (.iso) and click Next.  Though I didn’t do it below, it may be more beneficial to include the physical device type in the ISO name…

7. On the Startup Options screen, specify the Time zone, Language, and Keyboard layout settings and click Next.

8. On the Summary screen, review the settings and click Create Image.

9. The disk will be created as shown below, when it is Finished, click Next.

10. When the new SDR CD Image has been successfully created, click Finish.

I’ll continue with part 2 detailing the steps I took to restore my domain controller in the next post.