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Windows or Mac server - what's missing?

Don Lee

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I am toying with using a Mac Retro server for a Windows shop. I like the Mac GUI better, and am more comfortable with the Console/Engine model. There is also a price difference that leans toward the Mac for 1 server and 20 clients.


As far as I can tell, this will work just fine, with one exception.


What do admins do for bare metal restores of Windows clients when they have Mac Retro Servers?


In my case, I have an eval of Retro Windows, and have already created DR (Disaster Recovery) CDs, which will work just fine in client mode with the Mac server, so I can switch to the Mac server now and get something a little better, in some ways.


Two questions:


1. Am I missing something? Will this work when I have to restore a bare-metal Windows box?


2. What do Mac Retro server users do when they need to restore bare-metal windows boxes, since the Mac server does not provide for the creation of the DR CDs.



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  • 1 month later...

The answer to my two questions:


1. The backups are OK, but the Mac Retro provides no way to create the DR (Disaster Recovery) CDs.

2. See above. Retrospect does not provide a way to generate DR disks on Macs. You have to have a windows system. You'd probably have to download a trial version of Retro just for this purpose.

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After looking at the User's Guides for the latest versions of Retrospect Windows and Retrospect Mac, as far as I can see the only advantage to having an Emergency Recovery Disk for a Windows client machine is that it gives the user a CD from which to initially boot the crashed client.  However after booting from that CD, page 332 of the Retrospect Windows 12 UG says, "Once a Windows computer has been booted from the Retrospect Emergency Recovery Disc, its hard disk drives can be partitioned and formatted, and it can be restored either locally, by using the Retrospect application with connected storage media containing the backup, or from a Retrospect server on the network via the Retrospect Client software."  So the user has to know how to partition and format a hard drive attached to the machine, and then Restore it using the Retrospect "backup server".


On the other hand, pages 156-157 of the Retrospect Mac 14 UG starts out, "1. Install new Windows system software on the newly-formatted hard disk. Restart from this volume.  2. Use the Setup program to install the Retrospect client software as described in “Installing Retrospect Client software on a machine running Microsoft Windows” in Chapter 1."  This is followed by steps 3. through 10., which essentially spell out how to Restore the hard drive using the Retrospect "backup server".


So either way the user needs to be provided with a hard drive.  If he/she is also provided with a Retrospect Emergency Recovery Disc, that hard drive can start out erased, but then after booting from the CD the user must partition and format the hard drive before Restoring the entire contents of the hard drive—including Windows files—using Retrospect.  If he/she is not provided with a Retrospect Emergency Recovery Disc, that hard drive must start out partitioned and formatted with Windows system software installed.  Frankly, it seems to me to be a tradeoff between how much Windows utility work the user has to know how to do vs. how much hard disk prep the administrator must have done in advance.  Take your pick, iCompute.


BTW, page 329 of the Retrospect Windows 12 UG mentions a second—slower—method of restoring a computer that won't boot.  "Install a Windows operating system and the Retrospect application or Retrospect Client software, and then perform a complete restore as outlined in 'Restoring from a Full Backup' on page 207 of the Retrospect User’s Guide."  But iCompute won't find that sub-section on page 207 of the Retrospect Windows 12 UG—or anywhere else in that UG, nor will he find it on page 207 of the Retrospect Windows 8 UG—or anywhere else in that UG.  In fact he'll have to go back to page 207 of the Retrospect Windows 7.5 UG, which starts out with several steps to try before reformatting the hard disk and installing Windows.  Ah, proofreading of UG revisions, it's wonderful (insert appropriate smiley here)!

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After reading the rest of chapter 9, which starts on page 329 of the Retrospect Windows 14 UG, I partially withdraw what I said in the third paragraph of post #3 in this thread.  The "Using the Retrospect Emergency Recovery Disc" section, which starts on page 332, seems to lead a user through the necessary steps—including partitioning and formatting the new hard drive before Restoring—under the control of the Emergency Recovery wizard.  That is assuming the user can attach the new hard drive locally to the "backup server", but that would require the new hard drive to be an external one in its own enclosure.  If the new hard drive is installed internally in its computer (which was presumably a Retrospect client before it crashed), then the user will have to follow the "Restoring as a client" sub-section starting on page 339—which I assume means the partitioning and formatting was already done by whoever installed the new hard drive.  However both of these alternatives eventually require doing a Restore per UG Chapter 4 "Immediate Operations", which would seem to require the user be at least assisted by a Retrospect administrator.


So I accept that creating an Emergency Recovery Disc might be a worthwhile thing for iCompute to do.  As he said in post #1 in this thread, he could do this by downloading a trial version of Retrospect Windows just for this purpose.  


However iCompute might want to think big, by filing a Support Case with a Feature Request for adding the capability of creating an Emergency Recovery Disc for Windows computers to Retrospect Mac.  Unfortunately it would be a bit difficult for the Retrospect Inc. engineers to comply with this Feature Request.  Step 2 on page 330 of the UG says "Click Next.  You will then be asked for the Windows ADK software. Retrospect uses the ADK to create an Emergency Recovery Disc." The Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit is "a collection of tools and technologies produced by Microsoft designed to help deploy Microsoft Windows operating system images to target computers".  There might be Mac-compatible software equivalent to the Windows ADK sufficient to install Windows PE on a CD or thumb drive.  Alternatively, the Retrospect Inc. engineers might manage to offload creating an Emergency Recovery Disc for Windows computers to a Windows client machine, since there must exist one of those in order for the feature to make any sense for the installation.  But either of these alternative seems like a lot of effort for the engineers, which is undoubtedly why the feature doesn't already exist in the Retrospect Mac "backup server" Engine or Console.


P.S.: Transferred last sentence in second paragraph, and all of third paragraph, to iCompute's other thread.


P.P.S.: Split off remaining last sentence of second paragraph into new third paragraph; expanded that to explain why it would be a lot of effort for the Retrospect Inc. engineers to implement the new Feature Request. 

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It looks as if—according to this thread—you might be able "to boot a client from the Retrospect DR CD, connect the USB media and recover that client directly instead of having to set it up and run a recovery job from the server."  However post #2 in that thread says Johnny Mac was able to do so because the same USB disk that held his latest Retrospect backup for that client also held the catalog for the Backup Set.  iCompute might not want to put his catalog on a USB drive that is also a member of the same Media Set; I wouldn't.


I presume Johnny Mac did a user-initiated Restore.

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