Windows Server System State

A System State backup captures essential data for your server, including:

  • Active Directory: Stores user accounts, groups, and permissions.

  • Boot files: Files required to start your server.

  • COM+ registration: Information for programs that use Microsoft's Component Object Model.

  • System Registry: A database storing server settings.

Having a System State backup allows you to restore your server to a previous working state in case of hardware failure, software corruption, or accidental data deletion.

Zmanda Pro supports System State backup on specific versions of Windows Server with the "Server Backup Role" enabled.

Verify the following before moving forward:

  • Local storage: Zmanda Pro requires a designated local storage space to temporarily store data during the backup process. This space, called the spool directory, has specific requirements:

    • Bare root drive: The drive letter representing the storage location shouldn't be associated with any folders or files.

    • Supports VSS: The storage drive must work with Microsoft's Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), which allows backups without interrupting server operations.

    • Minimum 10GB free space: Ensure the storage location has enough space to hold the temporary backup data.

    • Windows Server 2008/2008 R2: Avoid using system or critical volumes for the spool directory on these server versions. If necessary, refer to Microsoft KB944530 for a workaround using the registry.

    • Fixed drive appearance: Regardless of whether it's physically internal or external, the storage drive must appear as fixed (non-removable) to the Windows Server.

    • Removable drive workaround: If using a removable drive, create a shared folder on it and use the folder's UNC path (Universal Naming Convention) as the spool directory.

For detailed information on System State backups in Windows Server, refer to the following Microsoft resources:

Restoring a System State Backup

After creating a System State backup with Zmanda Pro, you can use the wbadmin start systemstaterecovery command to recover the data onto a functioning Windows Server.

Alternative Backup Method

Zmanda Pro also offers an alternative backup method for System State – using the "Application-Aware Writer" Protected Item type. This method provides similar results to the standard method with some key differences:

  • No spool space required: This method doesn't require a designated storage space for temporary data during backup.

  • No .vhd file: The backed-up files aren't consolidated into a single .vhd file format.

  • Potential deduplication benefits: This method might offer better data deduplication during backup, reducing storage requirements.

  • Bootloader file exclusion: However, this method might not capture bootloader files, which are crucial for server startup.

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