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Reload this page Backing up data

Here are notes about keeping data safe. Let me know what you found helpful or not.

Sound: “You have just committed a fatal error. There's nothing we can do for you.”

Who's General Failure & why is he reading my disk?


Topics this page:

  • What's to Backup?
  • Why Backup?
  • Backup Strategy
  • When: Timing
  • How: Strategy
  • How: Hardware Devices
  • Not Enough Media?
  • Windows Software
  • 'NIX Software
  • Who: Operator Tasks
  • Your comments???
  • Site Map List all pages on this site 
    About this site About this site 
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    Humor The Programming Contest

    From Gary Utz

    Between moments of dispensing wisdom, it seems that historical religious leaders had also learned software programming.

    One day, a great contest was held to test their skills.

    After days and days of fierce competition, only two leaders remained for the last day's event: Jesus and Mohammed.

    The judge described the software application required for the final test, and gave the signal to start writing code. The two contestants feverishly typed away on their keyboards. Routines, classes, applets and applications flew by on their screens at incredible speeds. Windows, dialogs, and other intricate graphics began forming on their monitors. The clock showed that the contest would soon be finished.

    Suddenly, a bolt of lightening flashed and the power went out. After a moment, it came back on-just in time for the clock to announce that the last competition was over. The judge asked the two contestants to reveal their finished software. Mohammed angrily said that he'd lost it all in the power outage. The judge turned to the other competitor. Jesus smiled, clicked a mouse, and a dazzling application appeared on his screen.

    After just a few moments, the judge was clearly impressed and declared Jesus the victor. When asked why the decision was made, the judge pointed out the unique characteristic that set the winner apart from all the other leaders: Jesus saves.

    'Under Thunder' by Peter Kitchell. Get this framed on your wall!
    Get this framed for your wall!

    Set screen What's to Backup?

      Set screen User interface elements in User Profile

    • Start menu, taskbar, toolbars, desktop shortcuts, the desktop background, and Active Desktop items.

    • My Documents
    • My Music
    • Media play lists maintained by Windows Media Player, Real Player, etc.
    • My Pictures
    • My Download files (containing drivers and installation programs)
    • Favorites
    • Cookies (to avoid looking up all passwords again)
    • Preferences set from inside each Application GUI
    • Set screen Other

    • Email text
    • Application data files and databases (Quicken, TurboTax, etc.).

      Set screen In the Applications Data\Microsoft\ folder:

    • Address Book \ %user%.wab and .wa~ backup file.
    • Proof\custom.dic Spell Check custom dictionary.
    • Excel\XLSTART spreadsheets shown at startup.
    • Templates such as Normal.dat used by Word.
    • Media Player presets and play lists.

      Set screen System State data

    • Registry settings
    • Component Services (COM+) Class Registration database
    • System boot/start-up files (CONFIG.SYS, AUTOEXEC.BAT, CONFIG.NT, etc.)
    • Performance counter configuration information
    • Certificate Services database (if the computer is a certificate server)
    • Active Directory service and SYSVOL folder (if the computer is a Domain Controller)
    • resource registry checkpoints and the quorum resource recovery log (if the computer is part of a Cluster)
    • DNS zone information (DS integrated and non-DS integrated) (if the computer is a DNS server)
    • Note: Pagefiles and System Logs are, by default, NOT part of the system state.

      Set screen On Domain Controller servers

    • System State unique to all Windows 2000 servers:
      • Certificate services database containing certificates for authentication
    • System State unique to domain controller servers:
      • Sysvol (shared system volume), in folder %systemroot%, containing scripts and group policy objects. Part of Active Directory another page on this site
    • Shared departmental Sales and Financial files (such as monthly reports) and databases

      Set screen On a SQL Server

      Types of MS-SQL data should be backed up:

    • User databases -- There is more than one type of production database
    • The master database -- It is important to include backup the master database. Master cannot be separated from its transaction log so they have to be backed up together.
    • The MS-SQL msdb database
    • The MS-SQL msdb database supports the SQL Executive service provides a storage area for scheduling information. Because setup installs msdb database and its transaction log on separate devices they can be backed up separately.
    • The distribution database (replication)
    • Distribution servers need to be included.

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    Set screen Why Backup?

      Some of the Internal and External Threats to which you may have an Exposure

      • Accidental data deletion or update by user
      • Hard Disk Failure ("head crash", etc.)
      • Systems software failure which require a re-install.
      • Destructive Viruses ("Formatting your disk. Ha Ha.")
      • Natural Disasters (earthquake, rain, flood, etc.)
      • Man-made Disasters (Theft, riot, hacking).
      • Intentional Sabotage by a competitor, disgruntled employee, ex-spouse, etc.

      What Backups help avoid

      • Cost of management time to analyze and manage recovery of data
      • Cost of re-entry of data
      • Delays during re-creation of data
      • Loss of customers to competitors


      another page on this site Elements of Security

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    Set screen Backup Strategy: Questions

      The Backup Strategy is a key component of any project and the plan should be finalized before the project goes live. Backup plans for each database should include the following considerations often asked by auditors:

      1. Frequency: After every change, Hourly, End/Beginning of each Week, Month, Quarter, Year
      2. Type of backup (see "When" section below)
      3. Offline using a local device or Online over the Internet/LAN.
      4. Note: System State data can only be backed up on the physical local computer, not from a remote computer.
      5. Confirmation of backup integrity
      6. Where backups will be stored? (in a clean, dry, cool, low-light place)
      7. How long will backups be saved?
      8. Will backups be done automatically or manually (change media)
      9. What tools will be used to perform this verification?
      10. How will the correctness of date and time settings be verified?
      11. How long will it take to restore the database?
      12. How should backup media be identified and labeled?
      13. Object Creation Date Identification Location
        Backup Media - - -
        Media Logs - - -

      14. Is the log of backup media available off-line or only online in a computer?
      15. How far away will backup media be segregated from the source of data? (Store offsite to avoid having the whole thing up in smoke)
      16. How will media be protected (from heat, high humidity, etc.) during transit?
      17. How does access to backup media be controlled (with a check-out/check-in log managed by someone in another department)?
      18. MS-SQL Dynamic Backup Overview
        All backups are dynamic
        Allows continuous operations during backups
        The more frequent the backups, the easier is the recovery
        Named pipe -- Provides for 3rd party vendor
        A device called DISKDUMP is created. Backing up to the DISKDUMP device sends the data to a NULL device which means it is not saved.

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    Set screen Timing -- When to back up the database

      While you backup regularly (according to a schedule) you should also backup:

      1. Just after a database is created. This is the baseline snapshot.
      2. According to the planned schedule: Daily, weekly, etc.
      3. After performing a non-logged operation because there will be no record of the non-logged transaction.
      4. After creation of an index. To avoid extra work, schedule the creation of an index just prior to backing up.


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    Set screen How: Type of Backup Strategy

      Backup software read and reset the archive markers maintained by the operating system, which detects which files are being changed and sets the archive attribute.

      The operating system also stamps the file with the time and date which the last change occurred. This is used by the Daily backup method.

      Backup Method Scope Clear Archive marker after backup? Speed of Backup Speed of Restore

      Full (Normal)

      (Snapshot) All files & folders selected Yes Slowest Fastest


      No Slower Slow


      Only files changed (marked with archive bit value of "Yes") Yes Fast Slower


      No Fastest Fast


      Date changed No Slow Slowest

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    Set screen When There's Not Enough Media

    • 5 or 7 dailies: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday (Sat., Sun.)
    • 5 End of Week backups
    • 1 End of month backup
    • 1 End of year backup

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    Set screen How: Backup Hardware Devices

    1. Backup over the internet:

    2. Hard Disks store several gigabytes. Can be housed in pull-out carts, but have to reboot the computer. RAID mirroring, striping, etc. transfers data to other hard disks for redundant storage automatically. Only drives with hot-swap backplace hardware supports hot-swapping (without reboot).
    3. CD-ROM RW — Good for periodic incremental backups. Unlike tape drives, you can restore CDROMs onto common devices without waiting for a special type of device. For $100-300, media CD-RW are low cost -- about $2 for 650 MB per CD. Sony offers a $180 Spressa CRX200E-A1 drive and bundled Dantz Retrospect Express backup utility that compresses up to 2.6GB of data onto non-standard 1.3GB CD media ($3 each).
    4. DAT Tapes — Low cost media, But devices are still expensive ($600 - $800)
    5. 8mm Tapes — Easy to send off site. Inexpensive - tapes are 10% cost of hard disk. Can only be performed locally. But it's a hassle - when you restore on another system, you must have the same drive.
    6. DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) -- a memory chip instead a diskette case can save 34 MB for about $38. Sony's SmartMemory PCMCIA TypeII cards can store 100 MB for about $60.
    7. Diskettes -- A hassle and relatively high cost - $1 per MB.
    8. DRAM in a Diskettes -- To take advantage of the diskette as a ubiquitous hardware interface on almost all PCs, consider solid-state diskettes with no moving parts, such as the $80 Fuji FlashPath Floppy Disk Adapter (Part FD-A2U). It holds a 64MB Toshiba-designed SmartMediaT flash memory card (part STI-SM3/64)
    9. Zip drives -- Media is $10 for 100 MB or 200 MB. So these can't be used for full system backups.
    10. USB serial bus -- used instead of a smart card.
    11. Haven't heard of a storage device for IEEE 3894 Firewire ports.
    12. Smart Cards [google] The current generation of Integrated Circuit memory and processor cards hold 1-8 Kilobyte of data.


    • Devices used with Windows 2000 should be listed in Microsoft's Hardware Compatibility List (HCL).

      Certified Backup Pros

      Adaptec has a Certified Storage Professional (ACSP) program. Call 1-800-442-7274.

      Let others do it

      Backup disaster recovery data centers:
      • Comdisco/HP
      • SunGard

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    Set screen Backup Software Packages

      The most popular backup packages backs up only XP and Vista desktop operating systems, but not from Windows server operating systems.

    • I would not use the backup in McAfee's Total suite. It backs up just data files, so cannot restore your full system in case of a crash.
    • Norton Ghost 14 does the job of creating full backups which include the Windows Registry. To restore files, you mount the full backup file as another drive. Nice, but complicated. But it is cumbersome becuase its 5 different services takes too much memory, tries to do too much, and hides too much in its overly simplistic user interface. It also doesn't protect against subtle damage to backup media which cripples the disk with "bad sector" errors.
    • QuickPar creates backup CDs by filling the rest of the disc not containing data with .PAR2 Parity Volume files calculated using the Reed Solomon algorithm (like RAID-5 drives). However, I recommend putting the PAR2 files on different media (again, just like RAID5 drives). Anyway, these extra files are referenced during restore to both determine whether the set of backup files have been corrupted, and if needed, reconstruct damaged files. ISOBuster can be used to retrieve the files. TrueDisk for Macs and PyPar for Linux provide similar capabilities.

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    Set screen Windows 2000 Backup Software

      Windows 2003 and Vista offer a different approach.

      MS Backup Wizard icon The Backup wizard (utility) that comes with Microsoft Windows 2000 is placed by default in Start | Programs | Accessories | System Tools, which points to


      • Files generated during backup have a file extension of .bkf.
      • In the "Advanced" dialog:
        • select "Verify data after backup"
        • avoid selecting "Use hardware compression if available".
        • If the archive media already contains backups, "Append this backup to the media" rather than "Replace the data on the media with this backup".
      • A “Schedule Job” tab appears if jobs are scheduled.

          at 12:00PM /INTERACTIVE cmd.exe
      • To save time for backing up, in Backup Options | Excluded Files tab exclude temporary system files (such as pagsys).

      Reminder Two commands are needed to backup the entire registry.

        To backup the registry in Windows 2000 to folder E:\regback:
        Regback.exe E:\regback_m.bku machine HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
        Regback.exe E:\regback_u.bku users HKEY_LOCAL_USERS

        To retore the registry from backup files:
        RegRest.exe E:\regback_m.bku machine HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE
        RegRest.exe E:\regback_u.bku users HKEY_LOCAL_USERS

      The DHCP database is saved

        Rdisk.exe /S

      To save the NT4 SAM incorporated in the Windows 2000 Backup utility (not part of Windows 2000):

        Rdisk.exe /S


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    Set screen Who: Backup Operator Tasks

    • Who will ensure that adequate supply of backup media is ordered and available for use?
    • Who (Backup Operator) will make sure that before backups occur, files are closed.
    • Who will contact users if files are not available for backup?
    • Who will make sure devices are in operating order (powered up, is reliable)? Note: Backups created with the write head which is not kept aligned cannot be read reliably using a new drive which has a correctly aligned read head.
    • Who will monitor whether backup jobs are given additional media when requested?
    • Who will verify that backups can indeed be used (on another machine)?


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    Set screen Restoring

      If you delete an OU, here's how to recover:

      1. Reboot the computer into Directory Service Restore Mode
      2. Restore from a backup
      3. Run ntsutil and reboot the computer.

      An authoritative restore of Active Directory assigns new USN's to the restored OU's, and also replicated throughout the domain.

      A non-authoritative restore restores the System State data to its original USN's and is not replicated throughout the domain.

      Q223787 Flexible Single Master Operations (FSMO) Transfer and Seizure Process notes that server cannot come back online EVER again.


    another page on this site Active Directory Replication

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    Set screen Recovery Console

      F8 key immediately after you physically boot-up your windows machine.



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    Set screen File Comparisons


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    Set screen Disaster Recovery Professional Certification


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