At PCM we get to work with a lot of different software applications and have seen our share of great programs and not so great ones. Every once in a while there is one application that stands out and makes us say, “Wow!” Symantec System Recovery 2010 is one of those applications that has earned high praise around here in recent months.
Known previously as Symantec Backup Exec System Recovery (or BESR), it’s a full system backup and recovery application. Unlike many other backup applications Symantec System Recovery performs image based backups of the entire computer. It’s extremely fast and only needs to perform periodic full system backups, relying on system snapshot backups for the rest. This means that the storage requirements are much lower than traditional full system backups since only the changes made to the system are backed up each day. One advantage of this is that we can now retain backup files much longer, giving us the ability to restore any version of any file for as far back as our storage options allow.
But that’s not the real reason we are excited about this product. Backup solutions overall are fairly reliable assuming they are properly maintained, however restoring a complete system to a different computer has always been a tricky operation. This is where Symantec System Recovery really shines! The software proclaims that it can do “bare metal restores”, meaning we should be able to restore to a brand new system with completely different components and have the operating system still function properly. This sounds simple enough; however making this a reality has often been more than a challenge with the dizzying array of different hardware manufacturers and drivers out there. On this front Symantec has gotten it right and we have successfully restored to many different types of hardware; even going from physical servers to virtual ones and back again. That gives a real peace of mind when it comes to ensuring computer systems can be made operational in a disaster situation.
Recently we used this software for a server swap project at one of our clients and it out performed our expectations again. We had installed a temporary server at a client site after they were having issues with a particular line of business application. We didn’t think the original hardware was a problem but wanted to eliminate it as a possibility. Once the temporary server was operating flawlessly we wanted to move everything back to the original hardware. But how could we do this with a critical business application so that there would be minimal down time? We were able to use Symantec System Recovery to restore the complete server operating system and all business applications to the original hardware in less than an hour. Basically we shut down the temporary server, restored the image to the original hardware and staff were up and running minutes later. From an application standpoint nothing had changed, in fact staff couldn’t even tell the difference even though it was a completely different server.
Need a more robust backup solution? Want to make sure there is minimal downtime in the case of a theft or other system level disaster? Give us a call and we’d be more than happy to discuss the merits of a full image backup solution.