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Performing Microsoft System Center DPM bare-metal recovery

If you have ever attempted a bare-metal recovery using Microsoft System Center Data Protection Manager then you know that the recovery process is less than intuitive. Thankfully, the recovery process

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is easier than you might think. This article explains how it works.

At first, the process of performing a bare-metal recovery probably seems simple enough. After all, you can initiate the process directly through the DPM administration console. The steps used in the recovery process are:

  1. Select the Recovery tab and then navigate through the console tree to Recoverable Data | <your domain> | <your server> | All DPM Protected Data | System Protection.
  2. Right click on the Bare Metal Recovery option and select the Recover option. This will cause Data Protection Manager to launch the Recovery Wizard. This will prompt you to select the recovery point from which you want to perform the restoration and the restoration target. This is where things can get messy.

The Wizard's second screen asks you to select the recovery type. You have two options: You can copy the bare-metal recovery data to tape or to a network folder. In almost every case you will want to use the network folder option.

The next screen asks you to provide the path to the folder where you want the bare-metal recovery data to be written. Make sure that the path that you provide has enough free space to accommodate the bare-metal recovery data, and then work through the remainder of the Wizard's prompts.

When you complete the Wizard, DPM will begin the restoration process. Keep in mind that DPM is only making a copy of the data that is needed for performing the bare-metal restoration. It is not actually doing the bare-metal restore at this point. The only thing that is happening is that bare-metal recovery data is being copied from the DPM server to the network location that you specified. You can keep track of the progress through the DPM Administrator console's Monitoring tab.

The next step in the process is to perform the actual bare-metal recovery. This is where things get tricky. You will almost always have to create a second network share that the bare-metal recovery process can use. Great care must be taken in creating this secondary share for a couple of reasons.

First, you must consider the accessibility of the network share. When you perform the bare-metal recovery process, you will be working from an empty physical or virtual machine. Because this machine has not been configured, it has no knowledge of your domain infrastructure. As such, you will have to make sure that a non-domain-joined computer will be able to access a network share on the computer containing the bare-metal recovery data. This means leaving the NTFS and share-level permissions wide open, but also making sure that there is no requirement for IPSec encryption.

The second trick is creating the secondary share in the correct location. The hierarchy into which the bare-metal recovery information is copied is not suitable for the actual recovery process. 

Suppose, for instance, that you told the Wizard to copy the bare-metal recovery data to G:\. In that type of situation, DPM would create a series of folders beneath G:\. 

And the actual bare-metal recovery data would reside at: 

G:\DPM <date and time stamp>\DPM_Recovered_At_<Date and time stamp>\WindowsImageBackup.

Given this path, the secondary share must be created at the DPM_Recovered_At level. That way, when a client connects to the share, the Windows Image Backup folder will appear at the share's root.

Once you have created the secondary share and verified that the permissions will allow a non-domain member to access the Windows Image Backup folder, the next step is to make sure that your DHCP server is issuing IP addresses in a range that will allow a client to connect to the share that you just created.

With everything in place, the actual recovery process is simple.

  1. Boot the system that you are recovering from a Windows Server installation DVD.
  2. When you reach the Install screen, click on the Repair Your Computer link (instead of the Install Now link).
  3. Click on the Windows Complete PC Restore option.
  4. On the following screen click on the Restore a Different Backup option, and click Next.
  5. Click the Advanced button, followed by the Search for a Backup on the Network link.
  6. Enter the path to the second share that you created and click OK, followed by Next. Windows should detect your backup on the network.
  7. Select your backup from the list and click Next.

The next screen that you will encounter contains an option to have Windows format and repartition disks. It is extremely important that you select this option. The rest of the prompts are self-explanatory. Simply work your way through the remainder of the Wizard to launch the restore process.

Conclusion

As you can see, performing a bare-metal restoration from System Center Data Protection Manager is anything but intuitive. Even so, there are at least two bright spots in the process. First, unlike some of the earlier versions of Data Protection Manager, DPM 2010 and 2012 do not require you to use the SRT disk. Second, this process can also be used as a way of performing physical to virtual migrations.

About the Author:

Brien M. Posey, MCSE, has received Microsoft's MVP award for Exchange Server, Windows Server and Internet Information Server (IIS). Brien has served as CIO for a nationwide chain of hospitals and has been responsible for the Department of Information Management at Fort Knox. You can visit Brien's personal website at www.brienposey.com.

This was first published in October 2012

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