How to perform a Bare Metal Disaster Recovery

Read this page when you would like to get familiar with the overall disaster recovery process you can perform with Backup for Workgroups.

What is Bare Metal Restore?

The term “Bare Metal” refers to a computer that does not contain an operating system. When you purchase a brand new hard drive, it is completely empty, in other words, it is nothing but "bare metal."  It does not have any files or even an operating system on it.

When you use the term "Bare Metal Restore," it refers to the process of restoring data to a "bare metal" component, like when you need to replace your hard drive.  The most common reasons for replacing a hard drive are because your drive either fails or becomes full and you want to upgrade to a larger drive.  Another situation that produces a bare drive is when you reformat your existing drive.  Sometimes computers become infected by a virus causing damage that is beyond repair, thus requiring the drive to be reformatted in order to get rid of the virus.

All of the above restoration situations end up with the same results: you have a blank hard drive and you need to restore your files to get back to where you were before you experienced the problem.

What is involved with a complete Bare Metal Disaster Recovery?

Backup for Workgroups has a Disaster Recovery feature that is designed to perform a bare metal restore for a backed up computer.  This process will completely restore the entire server or desktop, even if you have to start from scratch and put a brand new, blank hard drive in or buy a new computer altogether.

The Backup for Workgroups Disaster Recovery feature is a "user-assisted" bare metal restore, which means that you are required to:

  • Format the new hard drive
  • Install a temporary copy of Windows that is the same version and Service Pack as the computer was running at the time of the last backup.
  • Re-install the Backup for Workgroups software and use the same Backup for Workgroups Client name and password that was originally used to backup the computer.

After these 3 tasks are complete, the computer can connect to the Backup Server and Backup for Workgroups can begin the process of restoring the hard drive to the point the computer was at when the last backup ran.

Important note:  The Disaster Recovery feature is designed to restore a failed hard drive to a new hard drive as a comparable alternative.  It is not designed to be a data migration tool, nor can the Disaster Recovery perform a restore to radically different hardware setups.  For example:  you cannot restore a hard drive that was in a dual-Xeon processor server with RAID to a single-processor non-RAID hardware setup.  To many hardware differences will cause Windows to fail.  The Disaster Recovery was also not designed to migrate data from one Operating System to another.  For example:  you cannot perform a Disaster Recovery of a Windows 2003 Server to a new Windows 2008 Server.  The Operating System of the original computer and the target computer must match.

If the original computer was a stand alone computer, it can only be restored to another stand alone computer.  If the original computer was a virtual computer, you will need to setup a reasonably similar virtual computer to match the original virtual computer.

The time to format the drive and install Windows varies upon the speed of the processor, the speed of the hard drive, and the version of Windows you are installing.  Please keep in mind that you only have to install a very basic version of Windows, (because the Disaster Recovery process will replace it anyways), so you don’t have to install too much.  You will also need to istall any Service Packs that were on the original Client computer, this is required because the Registry is tied to the version of Windows and the Service Pack number.  The Registry cannot be restored if the service packs do not match.

Why doesn't Backup for Workgroups come with or create a Boot-CD or Rescue Disk?

We decided on the “user-assisted” route in order to keep the cost of Backup for Workgroups as low as possible.  If we include a copy of Windows with Backup for Workgroups in the form of a "Boot CD" or "Rescue Disk," we will need to license it from Microsoft, which would cause an increase in price. 

Tell me the things I need to have/do to perform a Disaster Recovery?

Here is a checklist of things you need when performing a complete disaster recovery with Backup for Workgroups:

  • In order to completely recover all the contents of your computer, you need to have a complete backup of the contents of your computer.  This is why you need to make sure that Backup for Workgroups is backing up the entire contents of the Client computer's hard drive, including the Windows registry, operating system files, installed applications, data files, etc.  All of these files are required to perform a Disaster Recovery.

    The default backup set of "All Local Drives" will backup all of the above mentioned items.  If you have deleted or modified the "All Local Drives" backup set, you may not be able to use the Disaster Recovery feature.  This is why we recommend that you do not alter or delete the ALL LOCAL DRIVES backup set.
  • New equipment to replace the failed equipment of the original client computer.
  • Find your copy of the Windows Operating system used on the Client computer, including the product key/serial number.
  • Download the Backup for Workgroups "bfwsetup.exe" file and install the Backup Client software on the new hard drive. 
  • When the setup program asks for account information - make sure you use the same account information that was used for the original computer.  That means use the same Client Name and the same Password.  Use the handy "Test Login" button to ensure the connection to the Backup Server.

    (If you cannot recall the Client's name or password - simply go to the Backup Server > Clients panel and use the "Modify" button to change the Client's password.  Then enter the same password at the backup client.)
  • Print a copy of the Client Disaster Recovery Report (optional, but helpful)  Go to the Backup Server > Clients panel, highlight the Client name and press the "Generate Disaster Recovery Report" button.  Use the print button from the browser to print out a copy of the report for reference.

Step by Step instructions to perform the Disaster Recovery

There are 3 common cases when you need to reinstall Backup for Workgroups to restore a computer.

Case 1 - The Backup Server and the Backup Client were originally installed on the computer that has failed and both need to be installed on the new replacement computer

  1. Go to the computer that has been repaired or replaced and install Windows.  You will need to reinstall Windows to the same version and service pack that you had been running at the time of the last backup.  Example of Windows versions are 2003, 2008 , 2012.  The various sub versions of Windows such as Web Edition, Standard editions, etc., do not matter, the key item is that you must match the same major version such as 2003 to 2003.  You must also install the same service pack number that you had been running at the time of the last backup.  Note that some versions of Windows have an "R" number, the "R" number does not matter and does not affect the restore. 
  2. When you install Windows, you do not need to activate this temporary copy of Windows.  The restore will overwrite this copy of Windows with your original copy and you will want to re-activate the original copy of Windows.  Configure Windows as a standalone computer - DO NOT join a domain, since this copy of Windows will be overwritten with your original copy, if you join a domain the DC will register the temp copy of Windows, you do not want the temp copy associated with the DC, you want the restored copy to be part of the domain.  Also DO NOT install Active Directory or other apps such as Exchange, this will be restored as part of the disaster recovery.
  3. You can assign the temporary copy of Windows any computer name and user name.  When the Registry is restored, the original computer name and user names will replace any temporary computer name you use at this time.  The restore process does not use the computer name nor the user name.
  4. After installing Windows to the same version as you had before, you should create and format any additional drives beyond the C: drive.  Make sure all drives on the replacement computer are at least as large as the drives were on the original computer so there is room for the restored files.  You will need to make sure any additional drives beyond the C: drive have the same drive letter as the original computer.  For example if you had a 500 GB C: drive and a 500 GB D: drive you could replace these drives with 1 TB drives and format each as C: and D:.
  5. Now that you have the computer running with a temporary of Windows you are ready to setup Backup for Workgroups.
  6. If you had been using an internal drive to hold your backup storage, then make sure that drive is installed in this replacement computer and it is accessible to Windows through a standard drive letter.  If you had been using an external drive such as a USB drive, then connect the backup drive now and make sure Windows can see the drive through a standard drive letter.  If you had been using a NAS or network share as the backup storage then make sure the network share is fully accessible.
  7. Now that the backup storage is accessible you are ready to download the Backup for Workgroups setup program from the Download Form.
  8. Run the BFW Setup program.  On the first screen press the large button to agree to the license agreement and install Backup for Workgroups.
  9. The second screen of the setup program presents 3 options.  Choose the BOTTOM option to Reinstall and Access Your Existing Data.
  10. The next screen will ask if you are reinstalling the Backup Server or Backup Client - Choose Backup Server.
  11. The Setup will scan your computer and find the existing backup data if the backup data is on a local drive.  If you had been using a network share to store your backup data, press the Network Share button and enter the information to access the folder on the network share that contains the file ServerConfig.hdb.  Note: DO NOT select the folder named "Repository" that is under the folder that contains the file ServerConfig.hdb.  The correct folder to select is the folder that contains the file named ServerConfig.hdb.
  12. The next screen will ask if you want to install the Backup Client on this computer.  Since you want to perform a disaster recovery on this computer, choose the top radio button to install the Backup Client.  The list of the Backup Client accounts names appears in the drop down list.  Select the account name that you had been using to backup the original computer or this computer in the past.  Note: Account names are not computer names.  Backup for Workgroups maintains its own list of account names, so that in a disaster, if you lose all of your Windows user accounts, computers, domain controllers, etc. Backup for Workgroups will still operate normally when all else is lost.
  13. After Selecting the account name that was original used to backup the computer, verify that Backup for Workgroups can connect to the Backup Server and complete the setup wizard.
  14. Once you complete the Setup wizard you should be at the main Backup for Workgroups screen.  If you are ready to perform the disaster recovery, then go to the Restore Panel and press the Disaster Recovery button.  You will be asked to confirm your intent.
  15. Since the Disaster Recovery has to restore the Registry and the Registry holds hardware information, BFW will ask if you are restoring to the same computer or a different computer.  If you only replaced a failed hard drive or reformatted the hard drive in the computer, choose same.  If you replaced the motherboard in the computer or replaced the entire computer choose that you are restoring to a different computer.
  16. If you are restoring a Domain Controller you will be asked if this is an authoritative restore or a non-authoritative restore.  Normally choose non-authoritative.  The question only applies if you have 2 or more domain controllers.  Non-authoritative restores allow the domain controllers to resolve conflicts based on which has the most current entries.  Authorities restore is used to establish that if there are any conflicts between Domain Controllers that this Domain Controller is assumed to have the correct data regardless of the dates on the data objects.
  17. Backup for Workgroups will restore all of the backed up files to the point of the last backup.  When the restore is complete, reboot the computer and the computer should be at the point of the last backup.

Case 2 - The Backup Server and the Backup Client were installed on different computers.  The Backup Server is operating fine and there is no action items at the Backup Server.  The Backup Client needs to be installed on the replacement/repaired computer to restore the client computer.

  1. Go to the computer that has been repaired or replaced and install Windows.  You will need to reinstall Windows to the same version and service pack that you had been running at the time of the last backup.  Example of Windows versions are 2003, 2008 , 2012.  The various sub versions of Windows such as Web Edition, Standard editions, etc., do not matter, the key item is that you must match the same major version such as 2003 to 2003.  You must also install the same service pack number that you had been running at the time of the last backup.  Note that some versions of Windows have an "R" number, the "R" number does not matter and does not affect the restore. 
  2. When you install Windows, you do not need to activate this temporary copy of Windows.  The restore will overwrite this copy of Windows with your original copy and you will want to re-activate the original copy of Windows.  Configure Windows as a standalone computer - DO NOT join a domain, since this copy of Windows will be overwritten with your original copy, if you join a domain the DC will register the temp copy of Windows, you do not want the temp copy associated with the DC, you want the restored copy to be part of the domain.  Also DO NOT install Active Directory or other apps such as Exchange, this will be restored as part of the disaster recovery.
  3. You can assign the temporary copy of Windows any computer name and user name.  When the Registry is restored, the original computer name and user names will replace any temporary computer name you use at this time.  The restore process does not use the computer name nor the user name.
  4. After installing Windows to the same version as you had before, you should create and format any additional drives beyond the C: drive.  Make sure all drives on the replacement computer are at least as large as the drives were on the original computer so there is room for the restored files.  You will need to make sure any additional drives beyond the C: drive have the same drive letter as the original computer.  For example if you had a 500 GB C: drive and a 500 GB D: drive you could replace these drives with 1 TB drives and format each as C: and D:.
  5. Now that you have the computer running with a temporary of Windows you are ready to setup Backup for Workgroups.  You will need to install the same version of Backup for Workgroups that you are running at the Backup Server.
  6. Run the BFW Setup program.  On the first screen press the large button to agree to the license agreement and install Backup for Workgroups.
  7. The second screen of the setup program presents 3 options.  Choose the BOTTOM option to Reinstall and Access Your Existing Data.
  8. The next screen will ask if you are reinstalling the Backup Server or Backup Client - Choose Backup Client.  Since the Backup Server is on a different computer, we only need to reinstall the Backup Client on this computer.
  9. The Setup program will ask you for the name of the computer that is currently running the Backup for Workgroups Backup Server software.  Enter the name or IP address of the computer that is running the BFW Backup Server and verify access to the Backup Server.
  10. The next screen shows the list of the Backup Client accounts names.  Select the account name that you had been using to backup the original computer or this computer in the past.  Note: Account names are not computer names.  Backup for Workgroups maintains its own list of account names, so that in a disaster, if you lose all of your Windows user accounts, computers, computer names, domain controllers, etc. Backup for Workgroups will still operate normally when all else is lost.
  11. After Selecting the account name that was original used to backup the computer, verify that Backup for Workgroups can connect to the Backup Server and complete the setup wizard.
  12. Once you complete the Setup wizard you should be at the main Backup for Workgroups screen.  If you are ready to perform the disaster recovery, then go to the Restore Panel and press the Disaster Recovery button.  You will be asked to confirm your intent.
  13. Since the Disaster Recovery has to restore the Registry and the Registry holds hardware information, BFW will ask if you are restoring to the same computer or a different computer.  If you only replaced a failed hard drive or reformatted the hard drive in the computer, choose same.  If you replaced the motherboard in the computer or replaced the entire computer choose that you are restoring to a different computer.
  14. If you are restoring a Domain Controller you will be asked if this is an authoritative restore or a non-authoritative restore.  Normally choose non-authoritative.  The question only applies if you have 2 or more domain controllers.  Non-authoritative restores allow the domain controllers to resolve conflicts based on which has the most current entries.  Authorities restore is used to establish that if there are any conflicts between Domain Controllers that this Domain Controller is assumed to have the correct data regardless of the dates on the data objects.
  15. Backup for Workgroups will restore all of the backed up files to the point of the last backup.  When the restore is complete, reboot the computer and the computer should be at the point of the last backup.

Case 3 - The Backup Server and the Backup Client were installed on different computers and both have had a problem.  You need to re-setup the Backup Server and then install the Backup Client on a replacement computer to restore that computer

  1. Select a computer that will be used to host the Backup for Workgroups Backup Server software.
  2. If you had been using an internal drive to hold your backup storage, then make sure that drive is installed in this replacement computer and it is accessible to Windows through a standard drive letter.  If you had been using an external drive such as a USB drive, then connect the backup drive now and make sure Windows can see the drive through a standard drive letter.  If you had been using a NAS or network share as the backup storage then make sure the network share is fully accessible.
  3. Now that the backup storage is accessible you are ready to download the Backup for Workgroups setup program from the Download Form.
  4. Run the BFW Setup program.  On the first screen press the large button to agree to the license agreement and install Backup for Workgroups.
  5. The second screen of the setup program presents 3 options.  Choose the BOTTOM option to Reinstall and Access Your Existing Data.
  6. The next screen will ask if you are reinstalling the Backup Server or Backup Client - Choose Backup Server.
  7. The Setup will scan your computer and find the existing backup data if the backup data is on a local drive.  If you had been using a network share to store your backup data, press the Network Share button and enter the information to access the folder on the network share that contains the file ServerConfig.hdb.  Note: DO NOT select the folder named "Repository" that is under the folder that contains the file ServerConfig.hdb.  The correct folder to select is the folder that contains the file named ServerConfig.hdb.
  8. The next screen will ask if you want to install the Backup Client on this computer.  If this computer is to be a backup server only, choose to not include this computer in the backup. 
  9. Now, go to the computer that you plane to restore using the Disaster Recovery.
  10. You will need to reinstall Windows to the same version and service pack that you had been running at the time of the last backup.  Example of Windows versions are 2003, 2008 , 2012.  The various sub versions of Windows such as Web Edition, Standard editions, etc., do not matter, the key item is that you must match the same major version such as 2003 to 2003.  You must also install the same service pack number that you had been running at the time of the last backup.  Note that some versions of Windows have an "R" number, the "R" number does not matter and does not affect the restore. 
  11. When you install Windows, you do not need to activate this temporary copy of Windows.  The restore will overwrite this copy of Windows with your original copy and you will want to re-activate the original copy of Windows.  Configure Windows as a standalone computer - DO NOT join a domain, since this copy of Windows will be overwritten with your original copy, if you join a domain the DC will register the temp copy of Windows, you do not want the temp copy associated with the DC, you want the restored copy to be part of the domain.  Also DO NOT install Active Directory or other apps such as Exchange, this will be restored as part of the disaster recovery.
  12. You can assign the temporary copy of Windows any computer name and user name.  When the Registry is restored, the original computer name and user names will replace any temporary computer name you use at this time.  The restore process does not use the computer name nor the user name.
  13. After installing Windows to the same version as you had before, you should create and format any additional drives beyond the C: drive.  Make sure all drives on the replacement computer are at least as large as the drives were on the original computer so there is room for the restored files.  You will need to make sure any additional drives beyond the C: drive have the same drive letter as the original computer.  For example if you had a 500 GB C: drive and a 500 GB D: drive you could replace these drives with 1 TB drives and format each as C: and D:.
  14. Now that you have the computer running with a temporary of Windows you are ready to setup Backup for Workgroups.  You will need to install the same version of Backup for Workgroups that you are running at the Backup Server.
  15. Run the BFW Setup program.  On the first screen press the large button to agree to the license agreement and install Backup for Workgroups.
  16. The second screen of the setup program presents 3 options.  Choose the BOTTOM option to Reinstall and Access Your Existing Data.
  17. The next screen will ask if you are reinstalling the Backup Server or Backup Client - Choose Backup Client.  Since the Backup Server is on a different computer, we only need to reinstall the Backup Client on this computer.
  18. The Setup program will ask you for the name of the computer that is currently running the Backup for Workgroups Backup Server software.  Enter the name or IP address of the computer that is running the BFW Backup Server and verify access to the Backup Server.
  19. The next screen shows the list of the Backup Client accounts names.  Select the account name that you had been using to backup the original computer or this computer in the past.  Note: Account names are not computer names.  Backup for Workgroups maintains its own list of account names, so that in a disaster, if you lose all of your Windows user accounts, computers, computer names, domain controllers, etc. Backup for Workgroups will still operate normally when all else is lost.
  20. After Selecting the account name that was original used to backup the computer, verify that Backup for Workgroups can connect to the Backup Server and complete the setup wizard.
  21. Once you complete the Setup wizard you should be at the main Backup for Workgroups screen.  If you are ready to perform the disaster recovery, then go to the Restore Panel and press the Disaster Recovery button.  You will be asked to confirm your intent.
  22. Since the Disaster Recovery has to restore the Registry and the Registry holds hardware information, BFW will ask if you are restoring to the same computer or a different computer.  If you only replaced a failed hard drive or reformatted the hard drive in the computer, choose same.  If you replaced the motherboard in the computer or replaced the entire computer choose that you are restoring to a different computer.
  23. If you are restoring a Domain Controller you will be asked if this is an authoritative restore or a non-authoritative restore.  Normally choose non-authoritative.  The question only applies if you have 2 or more domain controllers.  Non-authoritative restores allow the domain controllers to resolve conflicts based on which has the most current entries.  Authorities restore is used to establish that if there are any conflicts between Domain Controllers that this Domain Controller is assumed to have the correct data regardless of the dates on the data objects.
  24. Backup for Workgroups will restore all of the backed up files to the point of the last backup.  When the restore is complete, reboot the computer and the computer should be at the point of the last backup.

 

Everyday, thousands of corporations, non-profits, and Government agencies use Backup for Workgroups Backup Software to backup their Windows Servers!  You can too!

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