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i have a win 2008 R2 server machine, i am running tests on. i need to be able once test is finished to restore ALL DATA to an initial state, i mean everything : registries, files and such (as though it was a clean install). i would like this to happen automatically - that a script can do this at end of test.

I have been looking around quite a bit, not finding an affordable solution.

in the answer, i would appreciated some explanation as to commands/programs needed as i am novice to servers/backup processes.

Thank you.

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Do you have the option of using a virtual machine? – squillman Aug 2 '12 at 11:58
@squillman some of the test i run use specific hardware i am testing. I am not sure but i think the virtual machine cannot use HW, (i.e. GPU). – james Aug 2 '12 at 12:30
Ah, ok. That's a no to the vm, then. – squillman Aug 2 '12 at 12:32
Not necessarily, if you have esxi and a compatible server you can pass through PCIE devices to the VM, so this could quite easily be achieved. – Alex Berry Aug 2 '12 at 12:48
The technology required to do this is called "VM Directpath" btw – Alex Berry Aug 2 '12 at 12:58
up vote 1 down vote accepted

native boot vhd then backups are perfect, in this case run disk2vhd then boot that natively.

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Is there a reason the native Windows Backup utility won't work for you? It's free, and much, much improved since the XP/2003 days. Technent even provides a short, easy step-by-step guide to using it.

If that's no good, I'd look into taking a disk image. While not technically a true backup, it will copy every bit on your hard drive and let you put it back when you need to, so it just might work for you. I'm a fan of Free Opensource Ghost, and Clonezilla is a similar program - both are Linux based, and free and are very powerful once you get used to using them. Alternately, there are plenty of free or cheap imaging suites available with a Google search.

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I appreciate the answer, but i am not sure i can use Clonezilla/ghost to restore image automatically, already tried them both, also native win 8 restore option - accourding to there site link does not restore all registry keys. i could be wrong, as i am not an expert in this field. – james Aug 2 '12 at 12:57
@james I think you may have to give a little on your requirements. Without using a VM, I don't think it's possible to do a completely automated OS disk image restore, so your options for completely automated restores would be either using a VM, or getting an enterprise-level backup suite you can schedule restores with (like BackupExec), which seems like serious overkill to just do this. Or give a little on how "exact" a restore is needed. – HopelessN00b Aug 2 '12 at 13:13
you are correct, i might be going a little over the top here, i will try to use VM - also i might have found another way, using another computer to do PXE boot and mange restore automatically. i was hoping for a feature like try and decide that comes with the acronis true image software though ... – james Aug 2 '12 at 13:23

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