Data recovery from Windows server can be considered efficient when the process involves preventive care and forewarning methods. According to industry experts, data recovery in the enterprise organizations it is more than just trying to salvage the data after disaster has struck. It is a sustained process wherein everyday data from the server is consistently mirrored onto backup systems and it is restored into the primary server disk drive in the post repair period. An efficient technical team will ensure continuous running of the network by immediate switch over onto the backup server while the failed disk is being refurbished. It ensures network uptime and critical data transactions to continue without any significant breakdown.
Server disk characteristics
Unlike your desktop computer, the server disk drive is large in capacity and may span up to 100s of Petabytes in size. Hence the number of volumes in the drive will also be large. If the server has RAID facility, it may span into multiple disks connected as a group. The server disk drive typically consists of many objects and software applications needed for
- Network administration. All the network hardware driver software, detailed information and component installations are done in the primary disk of the main server. Technically speaking it will be called as a primary domain controller (PDC). A domain is a group of network computers which are monitored and controlled by a centralized computer called the DC. It is different from a workgroup where the computers are connected to each other in the network, but there is no single master controller. The network PDC contains all the controllers for the configuration and working of network cards, switches, routers and other objects within the network.
- Database management. ERP applications running the client workstations need a centralized server wherein they can store the database. So the sever may host an SQL server, Oracle database, or MySQL database which gets connected to the front end applications running in the workstations.
- User profile management. All the network user profiles are managed by the Active directory services and database in the primary domain controller.
- Software applications. It is possible to have several software applications installed on the server (Office apps, project management apps, design apps etc) and distribute the working copy to the workstations. When the primary disk drive fails, all these apps will come to a halt.
- Browser and internet connections. The centralized primary domain controller can also be used as mail and internet facility providing server. Internet modem will be installed in the server and connections are given out to workstations from that point.
- Security firewall management. Complete virus and hacking protection is provided with the help of security firewall installed in the primary domain controller.
Backup and restore
Since the server disk has all these features and more, the need for regular backup with complete mirroring facility is a must for such servers. Inc case of any disaster like primary disk failure, the backup server will immediately take over the task of running the complete network without any significant break in the operations.
Another way in which data can be quickly restored into the PDC is by replication of disk data onto another domain level server. This is a better option compared to backup server as every operation performed on the PDC will automatically get replicated onto the replicated server disk as well. The system admin may create a new user or group, he may assign or revoke rights and permissions to certain users and groups and he may remove some users from the active directory or perform many other operations which are not related to data or file management. In such cases exact mirror image is created in the replication server.
Once the PDC main disk(s) are replaced and server OS is loaded, the technician will be able to re-replicate the disk from the replications server into the PDC. This will solve the problem of and settings and user group recreation after the data has been recovered.
On the other hand single servers in small and medium sized organizations still depend on hardware tools and OEM software utilities to recover data from the windows server. At best you can have a mirroring disk into which the data transactions and user profiles can be copied regularly. Once the primary disk is restored back in action, you will be able to mirror the backup disk into the main disk in reverse manner.
Once the data has been recovered, you need to rework on restoring the network connectivity parameters in the server control panel. Hardware and software drivers and applications will have to reloaded, users recreated and their profiles re-written. But this is much better than having no data at all.
If the level of faults in the server disk drive is limited to logical stages only, then the technician will boot the disk through an emergency boot disk and take the OS into safe mode with networking connectivity. Then he uses the rescue disk and set right all the logical failures in the primary server. He may have to re install the OS, but the data files in the server disk drive will be accessible normally now.
When the disk drive hardware has crashed due to board, or drive level physical damages, then he may have to open the server cabinet, take out the disk and subject it to diagnosis. He may connect it as a slave to the backup disk after correcting all the hardware issues, format the failed drive completely and restore the backup data. Even in this case he needs to recreate all the network configurations, user and group profiles and software applications from scratch.
Since the server disk drive is expensive, you may like to discard it without giving a fair trial for hardware recovery. But if the recovery cost goes beyond the cost of buying a new HDD, you may better chose the second option. You have the backup disk drive for data recovery into the new disk anyway.