So, we checked out the status of an SBS 2003 at one of our more recent, spend-averse clients and found it to be woefully out-of-date. Scary out of date. I think it's running IE2. Ok, maybe not that far back.

Anyway, I was thinking that I could use some kind of disk-imaging software to image the four IDE drives within and, in the event the server gets some kind of Update Induced Indigestion, I could completely restore.

Usually my go-to software for this is Acronis, but my client will likely balk at a $500 price tag for a one-off backup with their server product. I had thought we could use the boot media from, say, Backup & Recovery 10 WORKSTATION to take an off-line image of all the drives. According to their CHAT tech support, however, it will not work. I pressed for the technical reasons and they said they'd email me. They haven't emailed me. They still might.

This server is running SBS 2003, pre sp2. It's got four IDE disks. One is a Basic disk, which contains the O/S. The others are bound as a dynamic disk.

You might ask: "Don't they already have backup software?" They do! Backup Exec, a very low-end version that won't even do VSS. I don't know much about BE, but it seems to me that if the worst were to happen, it would mean building a new server O/S, installing BE (if the media is available), then restoring. Would it even work?

I can take the system down for hours to do a backup and my goal here is a pretty dead-simple restore if the worst happens.

Any and all suggestions are exciting.



Unfortunately, there's no such thing as a 'dead simple restore' of the entire system, especially on SBS. However, if you're looking for a free solution, create a .bat file to script the following tasks:

  • NTBackup w/ saved selection file for files, system state, and store-level Exchange backup (works fine with VSS).

  • ExMerge.exe for brick-level (individual mailbox) Exchange backup

  • cscript iisback.vbs /backup /b backup_file_name for IIS Metabase backup

  • osql BACKUP DATABASE db_name TO DISK = 'c:\path_to_backup' for SQL Server database backups

This solution also has the advantage of creating backups that are portable and relatively easy to restore if need be, and it's also easy this way to only restore what's necessary, say, if a database gets corrupted or an important file or email is deleted.

It is important to note that you should really create a scheduled task to run whatever backup you choose daily (or nightly), not just once time. Even if you're not concerned about data loss (though I'm not sure why one wouldn't be), this will also flush the logs for Exchange and SQL.

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