Discussions specific to managed agent-based backups
Post Reply
ejenner
Expert
Posts: 375
Liked: 55 times
Joined: Mar 23, 2018 4:43 pm
Full Name: EJ
Location: London
Contact:

BMR - seems a bit crazy?

Post by ejenner » Aug 30, 2019 10:05 am

hi guys,

Just thought I'd mention after doing a few bare metal restores on a couple of physical servers I can't say the process is as smooth as I thought it would be.

I've used a lot of other backup products in the past which can do a BMR far smoother than you can with Veeam.

Usually I'd expect to be able restore the backup to a running system but Veeam won't allow this. It comes up with an error message saying a system drive can't be restored to a running system. That's out-of-step with what I'd expect. I know the obvious problem with restoring over a live system... there's going to be file-locks as you'll have files in use on a running system. But like I say, it's not my usual experience to not have the option to restore over the top of a running system. Usually with other backup products you'd finish the restore and then the machine would require an immediate reboot. The locked out files would be overwritten as the machine boots or not overwritten at all if not necessary.

The major downside of this restriction is it seems to push you towards the route of using the Veeam recovery environment .iso file which you should have created at the time the Veeam agent was installed.

Unfortunately you're only prompted to create the .iso if you perform a manual installation of the Veeam agent directly on the physical machine. I did most of my physical servers this way, so most of them have recovery .iso files. Then I registered with the B&R server. It just so happened it was my bad luck that particular physical servers I wanted to restore was one of the few which I didn't have a recovery .iso for.

In this case I had to install two new physical hard disks. Then create two RAID 0 logical drives (no redundancy as it only has 2 hot-swap bays). Install a blank version of Windows so the physical machine became network addressable. Then restore the system partition from the backup to the second drive in the server. Then edit the boot menu so you could boot to the restored operating system on the second drive. Then configure the OS on the second drive as the primary OS and give it a short time-out so it always boots to the second OS. The other physical hard disk is still in the system with the temporary OS loaded on it. To say this process was cumbersome is an understatement and the machine is now in a compromised state so I'm now migrating the workload to a new server.

The next server I had to restore did have a recovery .iso. This makes it easier but you're still stuck with the issue of not being able to restore to an active system. So again, insert a new blank physical drive into the server, create a logical drive (RAID 0, as there's only one hot-swap bay available) and place the backup files on that new drive.

Initially I wanted to use the Backup & Replication console to restore the version of the server that I wanted from the backups I had available. So I tried a couple of different ways of restoring the server from the options given in the console restore menus. Unfortunately when you boot to the Veeam recovery environment it wants to see .VBM, .VIB and .VBK files. i.e. a full backup file, the meta data and the increment. If you restore from the console it does not supply the backup in that format. So when you boot into the recovery environment it can't read the data that you've restored.

I'm doing another restore of a physical server this morning. By this stage I know where all the pitfalls are and I'm able to do this without making any mistakes but it is still incredibly cumbersome for what is otherwise such advanced software.

I don't actually use the Backup and Recovery console for a BMR now. I go to the repository, look for the server I want to restore. Copy the .VBM backup meta data file, the most recent .VBK full backup file and the .VIB backup increments up to the point I wish to recover to. Those files are placed somewhere on the local machine. I then boot to the Veeam recovery environment and restore the server from those files.

I'm aware Veeam offer other advantages such as being able to bring a machine back online rapidly using a virtual environment or running direct from the backup file... trouble is, physical servers are usually physical for a reason and a virtual copy of a physical machine often isn't a suitable replacement, even temporarily.

There are probably other ways to restore but for one reason or another those other options are closed off and I'm stuck doing it as described above.

Dima P.
Product Manager
Posts: 10421
Liked: 843 times
Joined: Feb 04, 2013 2:07 pm
Full Name: Dmitry Popov
Location: Prague
Contact:

Re: BMR - seems a bit crazy?

Post by Dima P. » Aug 30, 2019 12:34 pm 1 person likes this post

Hello EJ,

Thank you for honest feedback!
Usually I'd expect to be able restore the backup to a running system but Veeam won't allow this. It comes up with an error message saying a system drive can't be restored to a running system. That's out-of-step with what I'd expect.
Yes, unfortunately that's a known limitation. To make sure we are on the same page: Veeam Agent for Windows does not allow to perform volume level restore to Operating System volume, but restore to any other volume (i.e. data volume or cluster disk) is possible and fully supported. Mind me asking why you are restoring the operating system volume?
It just so happened it was my bad luck that particular physical servers I wanted to restore was one of the few which I didn't have a recovery .iso for.
If agents are managed by Veeam B&R that's not required - Recovery Media components are automatically collected during first full backup of the machine and you can create it any time you need via Veeam B&R UI.
It just so happened it was my bad luck that particular physical servers I wanted to restore was one of the few which I didn't have a recovery .iso for.
You can use any Recovery Media created from a server with a similar Operating System and when it comes to the drivers - simply load those to the Recovery Media prior performing the recovery.
So again, insert a new blank physical drive into the server, create a logical drive (RAID 0, as there's only one hot-swap bay available) and place the backup files on that new drive.
It's not required to load backup files to the system: once the Recovery Media is booted you can connect to a remote location with your backup files being stored (i.e. shared folder / Veeam repository / Cloud Connect repository)
Initially I wanted to use the Backup & Replication console to restore the version of the server that I wanted from the backups I had available. So I tried a couple of different ways of restoring the server from the options given in the console restore menus.
Indeed, restore of the Operating System volume is not supported via Veeam B&R console.
I'm doing another restore of a physical server this morning. By this stage I know where all the pitfalls are and I'm able to do this without making any mistakes but it is still incredibly cumbersome for what is otherwise such advanced software.
Can I propose to slightly change the entire procedure:

- Create a bootable Recovery Media on USB stick prior stating the restore procedure (you need one Recovery Media per Operating System type). Some customers are using Rufus or other hardware tools.
- Do not move backup files from your repository (unless it's required due to slow network connection). Once you boot the recovery media connect to the remote repository instead - use Veeam B&R repository as a source if you store backups in Veeam B&R repo.

Hope it helps, cheers!

ejenner
Expert
Posts: 375
Liked: 55 times
Joined: Mar 23, 2018 4:43 pm
Full Name: EJ
Location: London
Contact:

Re: BMR - seems a bit crazy?

Post by ejenner » Aug 30, 2019 2:12 pm 1 person likes this post

1. Sure, in both of the most recent cases (different servers) some upgrades were unsuccessful and the upgrades had to be reversed by restoring the backup from the previous day. On servers where you're not storing data you can do this without creating any corruption. The server continues on from the restore point as if the future didn't exist.

2. That's handy to know. I might still create .iso files for the few servers which don't have them as it's another layer of protection. It gives the ability to restore without access to B&R console and could save some time.

3. I did think of that. But in the sense where I was unlucky enough to not have the right .iso I was also unlucky that it was an unusual server, different from the rest. An old blade server.

4. I did try that. For one reason or another connecting across the network wasn't successful. Maybe security policies within our LAN?

5. You can restore volumes through B&R console but it restores in formats such as .VHDX for hosting as a VM. The point is, what reason is there not to offer a recovery format which is compatible with the Veeam recovery environment? In my case where network transfer wasn't possible and the file had to be local on the server it caused me some delay restoring possible formats which might work only to find through trial and error that B&R console can't actually restore in a format which works in a bare metal scenario.

I have this process down to a fine art after doing 3 or 4 BMRs with Veeam. I can do it fairly efficiently now. This mornings restore job has already completed and the server is back how it should be.

Without wishing to be rude I suspect the weakness here is just down to Veeam Agent being a relatively new feature in Veeam. And in fairness Veeam does offer many features in the Veeam Agent functionality which aren't available in other products. I also deserve some of the blame due to my willingness to try things which I think 'should' work rather than taking the time to locate the correct documentation (sometimes that can be difficult).

Dima P.
Product Manager
Posts: 10421
Liked: 843 times
Joined: Feb 04, 2013 2:07 pm
Full Name: Dmitry Popov
Location: Prague
Contact:

Re: BMR - seems a bit crazy?

Post by Dima P. » Sep 03, 2019 5:06 pm

4. I did try that. For one reason or another connecting across the network wasn't successful. Maybe security policies within our LAN?
Direct access from RE to the repository is required, so any firewalls or network policies should allow access from the machine to the repository.
5. You can restore volumes through B&R console but it restores in formats such as .VHDX for hosting as a VM.
Export as virtaul disk and volume restore are two different types of restore operations. Check this - Restoring Volumes, but please keep in mind that this option is available only when agent is managed by Veeam B&R server.
Without wishing to be rude I suspect the weakness here is just down to Veeam Agent being a relatively new feature in Veeam. And in fairness Veeam does offer many features in the Veeam Agent functionality which aren't available in other products.
We really appreciate your honest feedback as it helps us to make our product better, so thanks again for sharing the detailed overview of your scenario! Cheers!

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests