Manage backup procedures
Backup is an essential administrative task. You need backups for routine day-to-day operations such as audit trails and restoring accidentally deleted files. They should also be done before any major hardware or software change to your system, so if your upgrade fails you can restore your previous system for your users. You also need to take backups in case you have a major disaster and need to restore your systems; sometimes, in the case of a fire or flood, this restore might have to take place in a different location.
You do not know in advance when you are going to have a disaster or when someone is going to delete files by mistake, so you have to back up on a regular basis to be prepared. In the case of a system restore, unless you back up your system after all user changes to data are made there will be some degree of lost work and some rework will be required from your users. What you want to do is minimise the amount of time your system is out of action and the amount of rework needed in a cost-effective way. You could carry out full backups of your system every 10 minutes, so if there were any problems you would at most only have 10 minutes of rework to do. This would tie up a lot of resources and might not be cost-effective. If your system is that crucial, you might consider a clustering hardware configuration with only 50% utilisation, so if you had problems with one server you could switch over to the other. But you still need to carry out backups in case the server room is hit by a disaster, e.g. flood, fire, etc.
Windows has a Task Scheduler that is used to automate essential routine tasks. The Task Scheduler (or Scheduled Tasks) can be used to schedule batch files, scripts, system backups and security and can be accessed from the Control Panel or from All Programs/Accessories/System Tools/Scheduled Tasks. This tool can be used to automate regular tasks such as security scans and system backups. The advantage of using a scheduler is that routine but crucial tasks are not overlooked.
If you open up Scheduled Tasks then click on Add Scheduled Task you are taken through the Scheduling Wizard, which helps you to configure the schedule. You are given a list of programs to choose from, then a choice of when you want the task to run and how often. After this you are taken through options specific to the task. When you have finished with the wizard, a screen like the one shown below is displayed:
Try to schedule your backups for a time when the computer is not being used much, if at all. You can back up files that are open or in use, but the Backup utility might miss some files that are held open by other processes. If possible have all your applications closed when you are running Backup. This minimises the number of files that could be missed. You should at a minimum schedule a normal (full) backup of your data once a week.
This must include your System State data (registry, COM+ Class Registration database, system files, boot files and files under Windows protection). If you have any encryption keys, you should also back them up. If you make a lot of changes to your data, you should consider some additional differential or incremental backups during the week.
Normal and incremental backups mark the files that have been backed up. Differential backups do not. When you are scheduling the backup, you are asked who is running it; if the user account you are logged on with does not have the permissions and rights to back up folders, you are required to supply a user account and password that does have the permissions and rights to run backups.
The permissions required are as follows:
- Member of the Backup Operators group
- Member of the Domain Admins group
- Owner of the files and folders you want to back up
- Have at least one of the following permissions for the files and folders you want to backup:
- Read and execute
- Full control
You can start Backup from the Start menu by clicking Backup from All Programs → Accessories → System Tools (see below). When Backup runs for the first time, the starts by default. Backup can also be accessed from Scheduled Tasks.
Selecting the option Back up data that is in remote storage backs up data that has been designated for remote storage. If you select this option, remote storage reparse points (placeholder files) are backed up.
Remote storage data can only be restored on an NTFS volume. You would use this to create tapes to be taken off-site so you can recover from a disaster such as fire or flood. You should do a full backup to remote storage at least once a week and move tapes off-site as soon as possible after the backup. There is no point in storing the tapes at the same site, because in the case of a major disaster you would lose them too and have nothing to restore from.
The option Verify data after backup allows you to verify that the backup is exactly the same as the original data. This usually has a huge impact on the time it takes to perform a backup, but there is no point in having corrupt backup tapes. If you cannot afford to use the Verify option every time you backup, at least switch it on when you are doing your weekly full backups, and if possible once midweek, so if you have corrupt data or a worn tape, it minimises the risk of potential loss of data.
The option If possible, compress the backup data to save space allows you to compress tape backups. This option is available only if you have a tape drive attached to your computer that supports data compression.
The option Automatically back up system protected files with the system state allows you to include all system files that are in your system root directory (i.e. C:\Windows) in addition to the files that are included with the system state data by default.
The option Disable volume shadow copy disables the point-in-time shadow copy method. If this option is disabled, files that are in use or open might be skipped. This is why it is advisable to schedule your Backups outside the hours that you users are normally accessing the system. Backups also take up a lot of resources, so if they are carried out in the course of the working day, users will notice a degradation in response time. Backups normally are scheduled overnight together with batch processing programs.
Under Backup Type, you are asked to select one of the following: Normal, Copy, Daily, Incremental, Differential or Restore. To understand the various common backup types, first we need to know about the archive file attribute. If a file has this attribute set, it means it has changed since the archive attribute was turned off. An archive attribute can be turned off by performing certain types of backup, or manually by using the attrib command line utility.
Backup types are :
- Normal/full: backs up every selected file, regardless of the archive attribute setting, and clears the archive attribute.
- Copy: backs up every selected file, regardless of the archive attribute setting. Does not clear the archive attribute.
- Daily: Backs up every selected file that has changed that day, regardless of the archive attribute setting. Does not clear the archive attribute.
- Incremental: Backs up only those files created or changed since the last normal or incremental backup and clears the archive attribute. This method is used in combination with a full backup, e.g. a normal/full backup on Fridays at the end of the working week and an incremental backup on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. In case of a restore, you need the last normal backup as well as all incremental backups since the last normal backup.
- Differential: backs up only those files created or changed since the last normal/incremental backup, but does not clear the archive attribute. This method is also used in combination with a full backup, e.g. a normal/full backup on Fridays at the end of the working week and an incremental backup on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday If you have to perform a restore, you need the last normal backup and the last differential backup.
- Restore: the Restore and Manage Media tab of the Backup utility allows you to restore backups and manage backup media. The latter includes formatting, erasing and naming tapes as well as maintaining catalogs. To restore a backup, select the backup on disk, tape or other media, select the restore location and click the Start Restore button. You can choose to restore the files to their original location, an alternative location or a single folder. When you choose to restore the backup to a single folder, the directory structure is lost, thus all files are placed in the same folder.
When you click the Start Restore button, a restore confirmation screen is displayed.
In most cases you will click Finish to start the restore, but in some situations you may want to set Advanced Restore Options by clicking the Advanced button.
- Restore security settings: this option is enabled by default and only available if the backup is from an NTFS volume and you are restoring it to an NTFS volume. If you disable this option, security settings for files and folders, such as permissions, ownership, and audit entries, will not be restored.
- Restore junction points, and restore file and folder data under junction points to the original location: this option restores the junction points on your hard disk and the data that the junction points point to. If you are restoring a backup of a mounted drive and the data on it, this option must be enabled.
- When restoring replicated data sets, mark the restored data as the primary data for all replicas: this allows you to ensure that restored File Replication Service (FRS) data is replicated to your other servers to ensure that other servers participating in the replicated data set do not overwrite the restored data because it is older.
- Restore the Cluster Registry to the quorum disk and all other nodes: this ensures that the cluster database is replicated to all nodes in a server cluster. This is essential if you have a cluster configuration. These options are disabled, as in Figure 118, if they do not apply.
- Preserve existing volume mount points: prevents any volume mount points you have created on the partition or volume Before to the restore from being overwritten. Disable this option if you want to restore the volume mount points from backup.
After you have set the advanced options, click OK, and then click OK again to start the restore. At the end of the restore you will be able to view a report showing a summary log of the restore operation.
System state data should always be included in your backups. System state data includes the registry, COM+ Class Registration database, and boot files. The advanced options of a backup job allow you to include all system files under Windows File Protection that are in your system root directory (i.e. C:\Windows), if you back up the system state data. This allows you to create a comprehensive backup of ‘just’ the operating system. To create a backup of the system state data, you can either run the Backup Wizard or use the Backup Utility. On the Backup tab of the Backup Utility, select System State Data .You must be an administrator on the local computer to back up and restore system state data. You can only back up the system state data on the local computer, not on a remote computer.
If you want to restore the system state data on a computer that is running, you should use the Backup utility and perform the restore as you would perform a basic restore. Just select the system state data from the backup file or media and click Start Restore.
Windows client software such as Windows 7 also includes the command-line utility Ntbackup.exe. This utility can only be used to back up data, not to restore data. It can be used to create backups by running it from the command prompt, but more often it is used in batch files.
Create a backup activity
To create backup disks/tapes you need to have the correct rights and permissions. Follow the step-by-step instructions below.
- Open Backup.
- Click on Advanced.
- Select the Backup tab.
- Select Job then select New.
- Navigate to the Nursery.txt file you created earlier. (If you have not created this, cancel and create it and then re-open Backup). Select System State Data.
- In Backup Destination, select File (this is the default).
- In Backup Media or Filename, click Browse to find the file you want, Nurserybackup, create this if it does not exist.
- Select Tools, then select Options and select Normal for backup type.
- Select Advanced and select Data Verification.
- Click Start Backup .
- Once Backup is complete, check the Nurserybackup file to see if it has backed up. Before you click finish select Report to check how your backup went.
Creating an ASR set
ASR (Automated System Recovery) is a new feature with Windows server operating systems. It replaces ERD (Emergency Repair Disk). It should be used as well as your regular backups. You also use Backup to create this. You should create an ASR set before and after any major changes to your system such as a software upgrade or installing new hardware. This makes it easier to restore if you have any problems. An ASR set contains the following:
- • a bootable 3.5 inch floppy disk (contains asr.sif and asrpnp.sif )
- • a backup of the operating system files.
Create an ASR set
Follow the step-by-step instructions below.
- Open Backup (this opens the Backup and Restore Wizard).
- Click Next.
- Ensure Backup Files & Settings is selected.
- On the What to Backup screen, make sure All information on this computer is selected, and click Next.
- On the Backup Type, Destination, and Name screen, choose File in Select the backup type.
- Browse to choose a location for your file and create a file called ASRbackup on your CD drive.
- Name you backup ASR test.
- On the Completing the Backup or Restore Wizard screen, check that all of the information is correct. Click Finish to start creating the ASR set. This can take up to 15 minutes.
- When the Backup Utility message appears, follow the directions
- The Backup Progress dialog box lets you know when the backup is finished. To view additional information about what happened during the backup process, click Report to open the backup report in Notepad and print it out. Click Close.
After you have created the ASR set, label the disk and backup media carefully and keep them together. To use the backup media, you must have the disk that you created with that set of media. You cannot use a disk created at a different time or with a different set of media. You must also have your installation CD available at the time you perform ASR.
Note: Keep the ASR set in a secure location. The ASR set contains information about your system’s configuration that could be used to harm your system.
Schedule backup jobs and manage backup procedures
- Use the Task Scheduler to create a normal backup of your system to a file called Backup, select the option to verify the data.
- Start the job to run in 10 minutes and schedule it to run at the same time every week. Take a note in your logbook of your configuration options and include screen prints.
You are now going to create an ASR backup, as follows:
- Select Backup from the Start menu, then the Backup and Restore Wizard.
- Decide what information you want you want to back up and where you want to store the backup.
- The system prompts you to insert a floppy disk, as ASR writes vital files to the floppy disk to speed up the recovery process if you have a disaster.
Follow the step-by-step instructions below:
- Open the Control Panel and select Scheduled Tasks
- Select Add a Scheduled Task. This opens the Scheduled Task Wizard. Click Next.
- Select Backup from the list of applications and click Next.
- Select Perform this task weekly and click Next.
- Select the start time as 10 minutes from now and the day as today. Click Next.
- Confirm the credentials of a user who has the correct rights and permissions to run backup. Enter Administrator and Administrator password, confirm the password, and click Next.
- Click Finish. You have now scheduled a default backup (normal) to be run once a week at the time, and on the day you have chosen.
Now use an ASR set to recover the system by following the instructions in the previous Activity.
Microsoft recommends that you create a summary backup log that you review on a regular basis to check that the backup was successfully completed. To do this, click the Tools menu, and then click Options. On the Backup Log tab, select Summary. If your backup is not occurring as expected you might want to check Scheduled Tasks from the Control Panel.
Verifying data after backup is complete
This done using a checksum. If any files are in use during the backup, they might have verification errors but these can be ignored. However, if there is a large number of verification errors, it could indicate a faulty tape, so you might want to consider changing the backup tape to a new one.
To verify data after backup, in the Backup or Restore Wizard, select the Verify data after backup check box on the How to Back Up screen.
Congratulations! You have now reached the end of this course.