Has anyone successfully backed up and restored SBS 2008 from an iSCSI device? The backup itself works fine, but during restore, how do you tell Windows System Recovery how to connect to the iSCSI device?

I'm trying to use WSB (Windows Server Backup) from within a SBS 2008 guest running under VMWare ESXi 4.1 -- I'm using Veeam to back up at the VM level, but want to use WSB as well for an additional backup.

WSB only wants to backup to local block devices (it really prefers a USB disk). USB passthrough from ESXi to the guest is problematic (3MB/sec), and using wbadmin.exe instead of WSB can back up to NAS, but results in an periodic full + incremental backup model instead of the more desirable "synthetic full" of WSB, and I'm not sure that wbadmin backs up Exchange quite as well as WSB on SBS 2008.

I found a previous post that headed down this path, but it isn't clear anyone actually got it working... Back up Windows 2008 SBS to iSCSI disk

  • As the person who asked the question you linked to, I can tell you that I gave up. I spent many more hours than it was worth to try and get the iSCSI initiator into a WinRE environment. Every tutorial I read said it should be easy, but it just wasn't. That was 18 months ago though, so things might have changed since then. I went with the cheaper option of just buying a bunch of USB disks - which unfortunately isn't appropriate for you because of your VMWare environment – Mark Henderson Dec 15 '10 at 21:07

I figured out how to make this work under VMWare.

I added the iSCSI drive to the ESXi host instead of using a software initiator inside of the SBS 2008 guest. I then map it to the guest as a Mapped Raw LUN. It appears to the guest (SBS or the recovery DVD) to be a local SCSI drive.

For drive swapping, I add/remove the Mapped Raw LUN from the guest using vCenter. The drive appears/disappears from SBS without any apparent problems. The first time through requires some fussing with writing signatures to disk, etc inside of windows.

I'm using FreeNAS for the SAN, and can hot swap the drives by issuing atacontrol attach / detach commands and then restarting the iSCSI service on FreeNAS.

Not exactly a pain-free process, but it is quick enough for a weekly offsite drive swap.

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Here's another thread. At the bottom, Paul says that you can connect the iSCSI target to another machine and then create a network share for use in the restore. Haven't tried it myself, but it sounds good!

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AFAIK, the proper way to recover an SBS 2008 is to reinstall SBS 2008, adding the iSCSI-target and then use the recover-option to recover the whole configuration from your backup.
I haven't tested it because luckily everything went fine until now, but it should work.

(It'd be nice if someone could confirm this)

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