System State backup and restore
What's included in a System State backup?
The exact system components that make up your machine's System State depend on the operating system installed and how it is has been configured. A System State backup generally includes a copy of any installed device drivers and related files, most of the Windows directory, the Windows Registry, the Active Directory configuration (where applicable) and system files under Windows File Protection.
System State backups for Vista and Server 2008 are usually between 7GB and 15 GB and for XP and Server 2003, they are generally much smaller, being between 200MB and 300 MB. Many files in the Windows directory have multiple hard links. If you are backing up the System State using the File Replication Engine or the Rsync Engine and have Single Instance Store enabled, only a single copy of each multiply linked file will be stored on your backup destination. This data does not need to be copied on subsequent backups, which reduces backup times and saves storage space on your destination.
Why is a System State backup useful?
From a System State backup you can restore your Windows system settings in the event of a system failure or corruption. A System State backup is therefore particularly important for disaster recovery purpose as it eliminates you having to reconfigure Windows back to its original state before the system failure occurred.
We recommended that you always have a recent backup of your System State and that you should perform System State backups on a regular basis, even daily, to increase your level of protection. We also recommended that you perform System State backups before and after any major change is made to your server.
How to back up the System State
With BackupAssist v6 you can schedule local* 'System State only' backups across all modern Windows operating systems, or even back up the System State as part of a larger backup including files and applications, using File Replication, Zip, or Windows Imaging. A System State backup includes important Windows systems settings, such as the Registry, and is crucial for system recovery.
*BackupAssist cannot be used to back up the System State of a remote machine; you must install BackupAssist on each server of which you require a System State backup.
Complete the following steps to configure a BackupAssist job to back up the local machine's System State:
- Launch BackupAssist and either edit an existing File Replication, Zip or Imaging job by selecting Edit from the top menu and choosing the appropriate job, or create a new File Replication, Zip or Imaging job by going to File > New backup job.
- If you are creating a new job check the Backup local system state option during the Files and Folders step of the Job Creation Wizard.
- If you are editing an existing job select Files and folders from the left menu, click the Local system selections tab, and then enable the Backup local system state option.
How to restore the System State
Complete the following steps to restore the System Stattefrom a BackupAssist backup using the BackupAssist Restore Console:
- Note: you cannot restore the System State from an Image backup using the BackupAssist Restore Console. You must use the built-in Windows tool, wbadmin. Visit wbadmin.info for instructions.
- In BackupAssist, Click Restore in the top navigation bar and choose the BackupAssist Restore Console.
- Click Load all known backups to load all backup catalogues located in the BackupAssist settings folder, or use the Browse option to locate the backup set from which you want to restore.
- Choose the job that corresponds to the backup from which you want to restore the System State.
- Use the calendar to select the date of the backup from which you wish to restore.
- Note: dates for which backups are available are marked in bold on the calendar.
- Use the middle pane to expand the loaded backup set and select the System State to restore.
- Note: files located on the Windows system drive (C: drive in the example above) may be available for restore, even though only the System State was selected for backup. These files are associated with the System State. If you choose to restore individual files from this list and not the System State, the System State will not be restored, and the files themselves may not restore correctly. If you choose to restore these files together with the System State, the System State option will override selections where there is an overlap. If you want to perform a full restore and are unsure which files are included in the System State we recommend selecting both the System State and all other files listed.
You can choose to restore the System State either to its original location or to an alternate location of your choosing. If you select an alternate location click [...] to set an alternate restore path.
- Note: if you are restoring the System State to a machine that hosts Directory Services, you will be prompted to reboot into the Directory Services Restore Mode.
- Note: During a System State restore the necessary files are copied to a temporary directory and then moved to their correct location after a reboot of the machine. Before the restore starts, the Restore Console will take a VSS snapshot of the volumes to be restored. This allows the user to manually roll back to a pre-restore state, if necessary, using Windows' previous versions feature.