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Backups
blankmonkey




msg:3186734
 8:43 pm on Dec 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

I use netbackup to backup all my servers. the other day when i tried to do a restore from a win 2k to a win2k3 website, it all failed. I know there were complications between the different OS's, but i found that even when doing it against the same OS i had similar problems. It begs the question;

Are my web's being backed up? or do i have to do something special to before my backups run?

how would i do a restore then?

 

jtara




msg:3186879
 11:26 pm on Dec 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

Way too little information.

What did you backup? (Static data files, .html, etc., database files, executable programs, OS files, boot sector, etc. etc. etc.)

What did you restore, and what was the reason you needed to restore it?

What software did you use to make the backup?

In what way did the restore fail?

There are many kinds of backups which serve different needs. You need to qualify just what you did and in what way it went wrong in order for us to help you.

Then, you need to step back and learn about the different types of backups and devise a plan that makes sense for your situation.

edit: Sorry, I see you are using Symantec/Veritas Netbackup? I know we aren't supposed to namedrop here, but sometimes it is better to mention these things explicitly so that people don't have to guess. I didn't realize that perhaps you were referring to a specific product rather than a generic term. I don't use that product - perhaps others who do can comment.

It would still be useful to answer the other questions.

What is "win2k3?"

LifeinAsia




msg:3186888
 11:34 pm on Dec 12, 2006 (gmt 0)

What is "win2k3?"

Windows 2003.

physics




msg:3186902
 12:29 am on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I would recommend doing a FULL backup where you don't use any product that compresses the backup with a proprietary algo, etc. I.e. a mirror image of the whole OS or short of that at least a mirror image of your web dir, database dumps, config files, etc. So... download all your web stuff via FTP or copy it to an external USB drive (if you have physical access), etc. If you use some sort of proprietary backup software you are relying on that company to make it all work for you, and they often don't.
I know this isn't always possible but it is the best way IMO.

vite_rts




msg:3186909
 12:42 am on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Hi blankmonkey

When backing up system files of any ms server product, you really should consider using the windows backup facility already built in to win2000 & win2003, they don't fail unless you do the wrong thing

Otherwise, you better be good at rebuilding your servers from scratch

Unless you are backing up non-frontpage files which are being restored to websites that have already been setup on the win2003 server

NOTE
none off this is advice AS There might be a variety of reasons your restore operation appears to have failed

jtara




msg:3186988
 2:32 am on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

On local machines, where I have physical access, I periodically do a full clone of the hard drive. There is a variety of software available to do this, but the common characteristic of software that will do this in a fool-proof manner is that it does it when your OS is not running.

That is, you are NOT running from the hard drive that you are backing-up. (I'll qualify that in a minute).

The problem with backing up Windows from a running copy of Windows that uses the same hard drive is how to deal with open files. While Windows does have some special hooks to be able to do this, it depends on applications that have files open having specific support for this. While major commercial database servers and the Windows OS itself have support for this, many other programs do not.

The software that I prefer runs in DOS. You can boot it from a floppy or CD. I prefer to boot from the same hard drive. (Wait, didn't I say not to do this?)

Well, DOS is a much simplier OS than Windows. Once it is booted-up, it just lives in memory. And the backup software I use works that way as well.

So, I always add a small DOS partition with my backup software, as a convenience. Of course, I can also boot from a floppy or CD.

There is similar software that runs on a version of Linux, and that will backup over a network. In fact, the software I use comes in both DOS and Linux flavors. I prefer the simplicity of DOS.

IMO, Symantec's products and other similar products got way too complicated a long time ago. One thing I think is important to look at is what do you have to go through to restore a drive from backup? For me, I plug in the backup drive, boot DOS, and 30 seconds later I am restoring the drive.

Now, your backup software doesn't HAVE to run from DOS. There are a number of backup programs that have a nice GUI in Windows (or Linux) where you set things up, then they reboot into Windows DOS-like safe mode (or Linux single-user) to do the dirty work. The important thing is to make sure your backup software is not trying to backup a live OS - that is just too troublesome, IMO. Make sure you understand whether your OS is live or not when the backups are made. And make sure you know the exact procedure for restoring to a blank drive, and how long it takes. You don't want to have to install Windows first before running the restore software!

This is just one kind of backup, though - and one that hopefully you will never need to use. I do this kind of backup weekly on local machines. While I do this on duplicate identical drives, you can use USB drives as well. I got in the habit of using identical drives when I was doing work on securities-trading software. In case of a failure, I wanted to be able to just plug in a backup drive and go, as time is money. We used the same procedure on our server. We had our colocation provider do the backups for us on a periodic basis using a three-drive rotation, and Fedex the oldest drive to us.

Which brings up another point - if you can justify the cost of duplicate plug-in drives (as opposed to backing-up to less expensive, slower, external USB drives) always swap drives after you do a backup, and then run from the backup you just created. This way you verify the backup. The drive you backed-up FROM becomes the backup! If you'd done this, you wouldn't have the problem you have now, as you'd have noticed there was something wrong immediately.

If you are on shared hosting, of course, you can't do this type of backup. Hopefully, your web host does it, though. Make sure they do!

If you are on a VPS host, you can probably request that they periodically produce a copy of your VM and save it. Some offer this as a regularly-scheduled service. They will take your site down and copy the VM file. This is equivalent to the DOS copy of a non-running system above. It's wise to do this after major configuration changes, installation of software, etc.

That said, this type of backup probably goes beyond what most webmasters want and need for their production servers. But it's still a good approach for your local development machine(s). If you have dedicated servers, it's certainly useful to make full clone backups periodically. Modern OS configuration is complicated, and this saves you the trouble of re-installing the OS and other software in case of a failure.

The problem with a full backup is that it's unwieldly to do on a daily basis. (Though many big companies do indeed do this.) Most of us probably will never do that. For most of us, weekly is about the best that is going to happen.

What I think is of greater interest to webmasters, though, is DAILY (or better) backup of your web content, server configuration, and databases. This can generally be accomplished without going to the trouble of copying the entire disk.

Probably the best time to do this is at the same time that you do your nightly log rotation. You generally need to stop your web server anyway for log rotation. Take the extra step of stopping your database server, and any other processes that might write files that you want to backup, and then use a tool such as rsync to copy changed files off-site. If this would take too long, you can first rsync to a local directory, start everything back up, then send the files off-site.

Most of the time, when you do need to use a backup, you really don't need a full backup, and you probably only need specific files. Most of the time, it's due to human error, not a hard-disk failure. Most of the time, it's going to be some web content or configuration file that somebody accidently erases or changes with unforseen side-effects.

You're more likely to actually need the second type of backup than the first. But you need both in your arsenal.

The third tier is revision control, which has been recently-discussed here. You DO have your web content, scripts, and configuration files under revision control, so that you can restore to any previous verison and discover what changes were made at any time, right?

physics




msg:3187087
 5:53 am on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Nice post jtara!

Which brings up another point - if you can justify the cost of duplicate plug-in drives (as opposed to backing-up to less expensive, slower, external USB drives) always swap drives after you do a backup, and then run from the backup you just created.

Hear hear. I do this also and it helps me sleep at night. If you have a mirroring raid array you can even pull out a working drive, plug in an old drive and let the RAID rebuild the old one to match with the running OS. The one you pulled out is your backup.


rsync

Can you use that on a windows server (or do you have to install Cygwin)?

vite_rts




msg:3187271
 10:57 am on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

@ blankmonkey

A couple of questions if you're still reading

1, Are these IIS installations on win2000 & win 2003

2, Do the sites use asp an rely on the .net framework

3, Are the sites created in frontpage?

seanpecor




msg:3187276
 11:08 am on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

Can you use that on a windows server (or do you have to install Cygwin)?

I use rsync to mirror windows shares from my Linux server. It works great. However, in my case, rsync is only responsible for backing up application data and not system data (which in my case is replaceable via re-install or through a full mirror).

Sean

jtara




msg:3187737
 6:02 pm on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you have a mirroring raid array you can even pull out a working drive, plug in an old drive and let the RAID rebuild the old one to match with the running OS. The one you pulled out is your backup.

Not exactly.

A bit of caution here - this does not guarantee that you have a coherent snapshot of your file system. The ONLY way to insure this 100% is to backup the disk while the OS is not running. (Even with "snapshotting" filesystems, as there will nearly always be non-aware applications.)

seanpecor




msg:3187747
 6:13 pm on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

I agree with JTARA. Also, given that a security compromise is just as likely to be the reason for seeking a restore, I use rsync to mirror my application and configuration data separately via a rotating backup process. During a compromise, you really just need to re-install everything from clean sources on a fresh operating system to ensure integrity. With an rsync of application and configuration data, at least you don't lose your intellectual property.

Sean

jtara




msg:3187912
 8:36 pm on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)

If you like rsync, you may like Unison even more:

[cis.upenn.edu...]

Unison is a true sync utility (as opposed to one-way mirroring). There are clients for various OSs, including Windows.

Probably it's biggest advantage over rsync is that it properly handles preserving file attributes (permissions, ownership) across platforms. It keeps track of these in a seperate file. So, if you backup Linux files to a Windows system, when you restore them to the Linux system they will be restored with the correct permissions and ownership.

It uses a differencing algorithm similar to rsync, so only necessary data flows across the network connection.

physics




msg:3188105
 11:34 pm on Dec 13, 2006 (gmt 0)


Not exactly.

A bit of caution here - this does not guarantee that you have a coherent snapshot of your file system. The ONLY way to insure this 100% is to backup the disk while the OS is not running. (Even with "snapshotting" filesystems, as there will nearly always be non-aware applications.)


Good point. Actually I do a boot down and boot into the RAID admin screen (os is not running) to do this so I should have said that.
In that case do you think there could be problems?

jtara




msg:3188123
 12:07 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Good point. Actually I do a boot down and boot into the RAID admin screen (os is not running) to do this so I should have said that.
In that case do you think there could be problems?

Nope. Sounds good to me.

So, while this requires a shut-down, it requires only a very brief one. Shut down the OS, go into the RAID admin screen (I assume this is a BIOS extension?), pull the disk, plug in a blank, then reboot on your merry way. The new disk can rebuild at it's leisure.

blankmonkey




msg:3188137
 12:22 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)


Wow, Thanks to all for the excellent input. I am not so concerned about the actual files, as they are backed up regularly, and the hardware resides on a a Mirrored OS drive and a raid 5 Data drive.

What I am more referring to are the configuration settings of the website itself.

Why i ask is because if there was some failure, we are not in a position to restore the entire OS, just data (all the files, including OS files). To those of you who have done this, you know that restoring an entire OS from backup is much easier said then done. For us, it is far faster to just rebuild, and then restore the data files. At least that is what we have been planning to do in case of a failure. So I do not know if I am backing up the config settings, or the only way to get the config settings back is to restore the entire OS.

But on upgrading one of our web servers, i found that the website settings did not backup well. So now i am trying to make sure that I am actually backing up and can restore in case (God forbid) something goes wrong.

Let me answer some of the questions though;

File backups, and full system state backups are done.
On the OS upgrade, i tried to restore the web config settings.
They failed, simply would not run, said the SID (or something like that, some version or license check thing) did not match.
Symantec NetBackup version 9 is the backup agent.
The Website is not a FrontPage site.
It is using IIS6
Backups are done nightly.
All OS's are 2003
Some of the websites may use .net, and there are some that use asp.
These servers need 99.999% uptime.

jtara




msg:3188154
 12:38 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Sound like you need to become familiar with SID Changers.

You are going to run into all SORTS of problems when you install a fresh copy of Windows, then restore SID-dependant files onto the new system.

The primary example of a SID-dependant file is the registry. Another example would be user profiles.

Each Windows system has a unique system identifier, or SID. Among other things, this insures that "jon" on my machine is different from "jon" on your machine.

When you build a new system, with intent to restore files backed-up on another system, if there is any chance that some of these files may have SID dependencies, you have to first change the SID on the new installation to match that of the old installation.

You would also use a SID Changer when you clone a hard drive onto several machines. Windows won't tolerate multiple machines with the same SID on a network, and so you need to alter the SID on each machine.

There should be a SID Changer bundled with your backup software, and/or there are plenty of free solutions available.

seanpecor




msg:3188169
 12:53 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Can't help you with an IIS server, I run Linux servers exclusively. There, it would be a matter of backing up a few directories under root. Of course, if a server is compromised, you need to be able to have historical mirrors of the configuration files to compare against. Otherwise configuration settings may have been altered by an intruder to allow for easier access should the server be restored to the net with the same configuration and you would have no concrete way of knowing what should be adjusted.

Sean

vite_rts




msg:3188181
 1:28 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Read up on using ms backup to do the backing up of IIS6, however, if you've got to backup the server while they are live

ask Microsoft to recommend a backup package which is certified to backup the windows security schema, iis6, .net,,,

All the other backup devices are ok for backing up ordinary files , but if you're backup a server product like IIS6, you must have a package explicitly designed to back up that product, or else your back might not restore, plus you might demolish all the coded dependencies in ii6, .net, windows2003 schema

An, tis not something you wanna just experiment with on live machines, either, I talk from several sleepless nites trying to recover test bed servers while learning, runs smoothly once setup tho

good luck

blankmonkey




msg:3188195
 1:57 am on Dec 14, 2006 (gmt 0)

Ok, SID was a bad word to use. I replicated the original issue, and the error is ;
"invalid Signature" when using the backup restore feature built into IIS.

So the short oo it that I am getting here, is that restoring from one server to another (In case of rebuild, would appear to be another server altogether) is not a simple "backup and restore this xx file".

And that the way everyone else would do it, in case of failure, would be to restore the entire OS from Tape.

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