Dell Server Backup and Recovery using Symantec System Recovery 2013 R2

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This post is about backup and restoring Dell server running windows server 2012 in UEFI mode using Symantec System Recovery 2013 R2 (used to be called BESR). Actually there are other methods can be used for doing this task with Dell Server, but since we already have Symantec system recovery then we will use this software. Anyway I think this software is good.

This posting is long because I write all the process I was doing with the errors I found in the process. So this post will also tell you the error we got and how to resolve it.

If you need to jump directly to the specific step:

  1. Backup the server by creating image files
  2. Configuring RAID on target server (refer to my previous post here)
  3. Create Symantec recovery disk (boot disk)
  4. Restore backup image files
  5. Problem you may find during recovery

Why I need to backup and restore the server (Background)

Back in May 2016, I ordered 2x Dell Poweredge R230 with 2x SAS hard drives on each server. However, when the servers came they contain 1x SAS drive and 1X SATA drive on each server so this was not what I have ordered.

Because I need to make the server up and running as soon as possible, I swapped the hard drive to become:

1x Dell poweredge R230 with 2x SAS harddrive @1TB configured as RAID1 1x Dell Poweredge R230 with 2x SATA harddrive @1TB configured as RAID1

I had been setup both servers with Windows Server 2012 while waiting for 2x SAS harddrive replacement.

Hard drive replacement (2x SAS 1TB) finally arrived

Finally, last week my vendor gives the SAS hard drives replacement after 3 months waiting (Yes that long) I have to backup all system on the server with SATA hard drives and restore it after I replaced with SAS hard drives.

I need to do this because I don’t want to rebuild the server from scratch. The server currently is acting as Domain Controller and as MDT server.

With MDT server if I need to install or rebuild new client, I just connect it to the network, press F12 and answer several basic questions and the MDT server will build new client with all standard application for my company, again this way we speed up the process building new client software with standardize settings.

Backup computer by creating image disk using Symantec System Recovery 2013 R2

When creating image file to backup windows server 2012, I tried to push the agent from media server running windows server 2008. However, it was failed because different authentication method between the 2 servers (I think).

I have 2 option to create image disk without pushing agent from media server:

  1. Create Recovery disk and boot the computer using that disk to do backup.
  2. Install Symantec System Recovery on the target server and do the backup.

In this case I choose no 2 because I don’t have the recovery disk yet at that time. If you already have the Recovery disk (boot disk). I highly recommend to backup the computer using this CD.

I store the image files on an USB disk. After backup finish, Symantec create several image files on the USB drive because our server has several partition on the drive.

image files symantec system recovery

Create Symantec System Recovery disk (boot disk) to restored the image

If you are not yet created a recovery disk after installing Symantec System Recovery, every time you start Symantec system recovery the warning will pop up asking you to create the disk.

If you need to create again the recovery disk, you can do this from:

Run Symantec System Recovery 2013 R2, click Tasks> Create New Recovery Disk…Click Continue.

create new recovery disk

You can save the Symantec System Recovery Disk to USB disk or to ISO file to be burned into CD later. Click Next.

Symantec system recovery disk creation wizard

There are 2 options, typical and advanced. If you need to backup and to recover windows 10 computer or you need 32-bit and 64-bit version of Symantec System Recovery Disk, then you have to choose Advanced option. On the screen below the Typical option was greyed because SSR was running on Windows Server 2008 that not supported by the system.

Symantec system recovery disk creation wizard choose option

Next you will choose language, click next. You will have 2 options whether to save the recovery disk on USB disk or on ISO file. Because I need to create 32 bit and 64 bit version of recovery disk, I choose to be saved on ISO files.

storage media destination

You are going to need enter the license key, I choose to use the same license that already activated on the Media server. Click Next.

enable licensed features

Drivers, the program will detect automatically and will include it in the Recovery disk. If you are going to restore to different server with different hardware you will need to install at least your storage driver.

Without storage driver, the recovery disk may not recognize the hard drive on the different server. You can add the driver later after disk creation though.

storage and network drivers

On the startup options you will need to choose time zone, display language and keyboard layout. Click next

startup options

On the network option you have option to automatically start network services when using Recovery disk. If you are store your image files in the network, you will need to activate this option.
Because my image file was stored on the USB disk, I do not activate this option. Click Next.

network options

Lightsout restore,

If you want to have the recovery system installed on the computer and accessible when startup you need to activate this. I did not activate the option and click next.

setup lightsout restore

Summary

Everything you select on the previous steps will be displayed here. If you need to amend the selection, just press back button until you find the selection you need to change.

summary

If you choose advanced option, the process will download and install Microsoft assessment and deployment kit (ADK10) and this could take minutes or hours depend on your internet speed.

Restoring the backup image files using recovery disk

Restoring image files is the most challenging process especially if you are restoring to a server that have special storage hardware that require additional driver. You have to prepare additional driver to be installed when restoring image files.

Delete all partition and convert to GPT

The first and the most important is to run Diskpart command using the recovery disk. Click Analyze>Open Command Shell Window

open command shell window

Type Diskpart <enter>
Diskpart> Select disk 0 <enter>
Diskpart> Clean <enter>
Diskpart> Convert gpt <enter>
Exit and back to the main menu.

The command above is to delete the existing partition on the target drive and to convert from MBR (BIOS) to GPT (UEFI). This is to prepared hard drive to receive UEFI based image files.

This Diskpart trick was inspired by posting of Didier Van Hoye explaining how to deploy windows 2012 on Dell UEFI mode and this is very relating to my problem.

https://blog.workinghardinit.work/2012/08/24/how-to-deploy-windows-server-2012-on-dell-uefi-nownotes-from-the-field/

Restore the image files

On the main menu choose Recover>Recover My Computer

recover my computer

Click Next on the Welcome to the Recover My Computer Wizard

recover my computer wizard

On the Select a Recovery Point to Restore click browse to choose the folder. Click Next until finish.

select a recovery point to restore

Errors you may found during Recovery process

1. Server cannot boot after image restored

This is because the server was not picked the correct boot device. On my case I have to choose windows boot manager from RAID storage as a boot source and disable the unnecessary boot option.

This happen because on the source server where I made the image, the hard drive was SATA while on the target server the hard drive is SAS. If you have the same hard drive type most likely you will not get this problem.

2. Recovery process stuck at 0 percent

I started the recovery process and it stuck in 0 percent. After waiting about 20 minutes, I decided to cancel the process. I re-check everything and after I am sure everything is OK I re-run the recovery. This time working although I did not change anything with the setting.

3. Target drive is invalid

invalid target drive

In the restoring setup the target drive was always invalid.

  • Cancel the process
  • Run diskpart, clean the target drive partition and conver to gpt.
  • Re-run the recovery process

Read more article about Moving Data From Old File Server HP HP DL320s to The New Machine Dell Poweredge R530

This end up my post about Dell Server Backup and Recovery using Symantec System Recovery 2013 R2. I hope it will help someone out there who has the similar problem.

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