Backups, system failures and peace of mind

Another week in the trenches. I had a primary server at our organization have a major failure. The SAS controller (which provides access to SAS type HDDs) died OR the motherboard to the server itself has an issue. Either way without another ‘like’ system that I can put the SAS card into to see if the issues is just the card or the motherboard I cannot access my drives – and they too may be very corrupted. The only machine I have capable of putting the card into is in production. And the cost of a replacement Dell Perc5i SAS card is nearly $200.00 US and could take days to get here. Plus I needed to have this system back up and running very quickly – the server in question runs all or our company financial, shipping and reporting software applications!

Since I have all my ‘data’ backed up to a server drive every night I was secure in the knowledge that we at least had the financial databases and ‘files’ available. But how to get a system back into production? Disk Imaging to the rescue!! I had a fairly recent full system image, created with my favorite backup software – Acronis, available. Yay! Just need a place to restore it to.

Since my organization now has a VMware ESXi/vSphere SAN and cluster running I was easily able to create/import a new ‘Virtual Machine’ from the Acronis disk image very quickly and then just copy over the backed up data files from the night/early morning before. WORKED LIKE A CHARM! If I’d had an available server (Hardware wise) I could also have restored that image to it too.

I’m telling this to you to remind you – I believe in Images(Clones) for my backups, alone with periodic ‘file backups’. That way I’m protected against full drive failures/loses AND stupidity – accidentally erasing or overwriting files. :)
[Imaging or cloning is the procedure by which you create a backup that is identical to a bootable system either to another internal or external drive. This is the ultimate backup! Should your drive fail you can just ‘pop in’ your cloned drive or ‘restore’ that clone to a new drive and your are up and running.]

If you are not regularly creating full image backups you WILL be sorry! I have written numerous articles about cloning and back up.

PLEASE read here if you any kind of concern for you data.

For Mac images and cloning go here.

So of course this weekend I created two new images on separate drives for my home system(s). I can’t tell you the peace of mind you will get from knowing that the worst that could happen to your system is that you might lose a couple of days or a weeks worth of information. If your drive gets corrupted or fails or you get trashed by some virus, you could be back up and running within a very short period of time! No re-installing your Operating System and programs and ‘trying’ to find you data files. Just restore the image and BAM, you up!

What prompted me to start on this rant is that Apple has finally acknowledged it is having some major issues with some of the hard drives in some of their newer systems they have been selling. Looks like some of the drives just ‘fail’. OUCH! You can read about that here.

And although you can have your drive replaced – YOU WILL LOSE YOUR DATA! The Apple folk and/or kids the the ‘Genius’ bar will NOT re-install your system software or clone your drive for you!! Unless you have an image to restore you will have to re-install you System and applications. And unless you had at least some kind of backup to another drive (Time Machine type) your data (read pictures and music!) will be gone!

So folks, backup, backup and then backup again.

The cost of a couple of extra external drives and a little program setup is minuscule to the cost of losing you ‘digital life’. Right now Acronis has a special – only $29.00 US for their home product!! With Apple’s you can even get a way with out purchasing any software!

Be safe, be secure and gain some peace of mind.

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