Image-Based Data Recovery for Physical Systems

Author: Jason Mattox

Image-Based Data Recovery for Physical Systems

As it turns out, all of the same recovery options that apply to virtual machines as I described earlier in this blog series also apply to physical systems. What’s new is that you also get the option to keep the physical system running as a virtual machine rather than restoring it as a physical device.


To break this down, you can use the protected image to restore the entire physical system at a specific Point In Time (PIT). You can restore the whole image. You can restore it on the original physical system, or on an entirely new physical system. You can also restore it on a virtual server as a Virtual Machine.


As for a protected Virtual Machine image, you can also reach into the physical system image and pull out any individual piece of data that you might need to restore like a single file.


On either the virtual server or the physical system, the restore process can use the same process of injecting a binary to perform the restore job at the time that you need it. This makes recovery very flexible, because you don’t need to know in advance where you want to perform recovery. With Backup 1.0 systems, you have to know in advance – because the recovery system needs an agent. Without the agent, you cannot perform recovery.


Backup 2.0 methods, in contrast, take care of managing the recovery system as part of the recovery process. You just decide where you want to recover, and the Backup 2.0 system does the work.


Just as on a virtual server see my blog entry from Jan 28, there are about 60 configuration attributes that describe the underlying physical system configuration. When restoring an image onto a new physical system that is not configured with identical network connections, disk structure, and so forth, it is possible for the administrator to change these settings to enable the recovery. Due to its impact on the OS, the only attribute which can be problematic to change is the number of CPUs.


Another option for recovery of physical systems is to restore the image to a virtual server, and then replicate parts of the image back to the physical system for recovery. This is particularly effective for individual file restore and is the recommended method.