Perhaps I should start with the good. I hoped that I wouldn’t really need restore functionality ever. I was wrong. Today I’ve installed [VMWare] Server on the same Windows 2003 machine with [MS] Virtual Server 2005 R2 SP1 already installed. They both mostly work side by side. It is just that Virtual Server management web application is broken for some reason after [VMWare] Server was installed (spitting Service Unavailable in web browser) and thus preventing me from any administration. Fortunately I was smart enough to foresee possible issue and have done a disk image backup of my server OS disk (using TI of course). Because I didn’t have days to find out the cause and the solution of mentioned problem I’ve decided to simply restore the disk as it was just before [VMWare] Server installation. And it worked smoothly as it should. My server is back in its full glory. Great work, Acronis.
Now the bad side of TI. It sucks for backuping large disk images, such as mine 600MB one. Actually, the backup itself works fine and is relatively fast (~4hrs over 1Gb switch for my disk – my backup storage is a 750GB disk on server) and consequent incremental backups are many times faster (depends on how many changes are to backup). So far so good. The big big problem lies in the fact that backup storage isn’t infinitely large, meaning, you have to merge full backup with consequent backup(s) sooner or later, i.e. I have a full backup (~250GB) and 7 incremental ones (each ~10Gb) and there is no place for next incremental backup. Thus full backup is consolidated with the oldest incremental and so on until there is enough place (you can configure various parameters). That is still good. But here is the showstopper problem: consolidation of such a huge backup is unbelievably slow. It literally takes days, if not weeks and makes whole disk image backup process useless. Unfortunately. A workaround would be to mount another backup disk (duplication!) and from time to time (before consolidation happens) move current full and incremental backup files there. This workaround carries downsides:
- yet another disk (cost, power usage, heat, noise, …) to have
- forcing more full backups (they aren’t exactly fast, remember – 4hrs).
- more administration
Yuck, eh. So I am reconsidering my backup strategy. Luckily, [MS] just RTMed Windows Home Server (WHS) which includes great backup technology (a topic for another post), like it was made for my requirements :-). It is a shame though, that this backup technology isn’t available as an add-in for Windows 2003. More about WHS and its backup capabilities in another post.