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Creating a Standby Image

Overview:

The Backup Manager lets you create standby images of your computer (namely its physical disks). The images are created locally – on the same computer or on the network. You can run them in the Hyper-V or VirtualBox virtualization environment or mount them to the local file system.

Time estimate to complete this procedure:

It should only take about twenty minutes to complete this process. This is a rough estimate based on our experience with several customers.

The process described below will do the following:

  • A backup image will be created. 

 

Prerequisites:

The feature is available on all Windows distributions that support VHD:

  • Windows 7
  • Windows 8 / 8.1
  • Windows 10
  • Windows Server 2008 R2
  • Windows Server SBS 2011
  • Windows Server 2012 / 2012 R2

To create a standby image follow the steps below:

1. Enable the Standby Image

1. Download the latest version of the Backup Manager for Windows (download link).

2. Install the Backup Manager to a Windows computer using your new access details.
3. Start the Backup Manager, and then go to Preferences > Standby Image Backup.
standby1.png
4. Enable the Create a standby image backup option
5. Choose where you want to create a virtual disk: on a local drive or a network share.
6. Specify a path to the target directory. If the directory is on the network, enter your access credentials for that network resource.
standby2.png
7. Click Save to apply the settings

You will get a confirmation that the feature has been activated.

standby-image-enabled-confirmation.png

2. Perform a backup

Now you should back up some data for the standby image. This is done on the Backup tab.

If you are going to boot the disk in a virtual environment, please include the following to your backup selection:

1. The "System State" data source: all data. Starting from version 15.10, you can back up a system containing dynamic disks (they'll be converted to basic disks)
2. The "Files and Folders" data source: the whole system disk (C:\ or any other depending on the configuration of your computer) or at least the following directories:
    • "Program Files"
    • "Program Files (x86)"
    • "ProgramData"
    • "Users"
    • "Windows"

You can also select any other data on other disks. Supported data sources: Files and Folders, MS SQL, and MS Exchange. Note that MS SQL and MS Exchange recovery will be completed after you start the recovered virtual machine.

If you just want to browse files on the disk, then you are welcome to configure your backup selection as you wish.

After the backup is completed, you will find new VHD (or VHDX) disks at the location specified in Preferences > Standby Image Backup. The number of disks equals the number of hard disks you have backed up. The type of disks is determined by the firmware of the computer the disks are created on:

  • BIOS firmware (Windows is booted from an MBR disk) – VHD format
  • UEFI firmware (Windows is booted from a GPT disk) – VHDX format

3. Access the standby image

The Backup Manager has created the virtual disk and placed it into a new sub-directory. The sub-directory was created at the location you have specified at step 1.6. The path to the sub-directory is always built in the following way:

%your_target_directory%/device_name/machine_name/installation_ID/

  • device_name – the name of the device used during Backup Manager installation
  • machine_name – the name of the computer on which the Backup Manager is currently installed
  • installation_ID – a unique identifier automatically created for the current Backup Manager installation

Such hierarchal placement lets you save virtual disks from different computers to a single location (a network server, for example) and quickly find the disk you need.

There are 2 ways to access the standby image:

  • By attaching it to a virtual machine
  • By mounting it to the local file system

Attaching the disk to a virtual machine

You need a virtual machine to open the disk. The disk should be accessible from the computer on which the virtual machine is deployed.

You can use an existing virtual machine or create a new one as shown in the example below.

1. Start the Hyper-V Manager.
2. Under Actions, choose New > Virtual Machine.
create-vm-context-menu.png
3. Enter a name for the new virtual machine.
enter-vm-name.png
4. Choose the generation of the virtual machine. Note that VHDX disks can be attached to Hyper-V Generation 2 VM only. VHD disks can be attached to Hyper-V Generation 1 VM or to VirtualBox VM.
5. Specify how much memory you want to allocate to the virtual machine.
6. Configure network settings
7. Set the selection to "Use an existing virtual hard disk" and specify the path to the disk created by the Backup Manager. If you have several disks, you'll be able to add them all at step 9.
8. Preview the settings and complete the virtual machine creation.
9. Attach other virtual disks to the machine (if applicable). To do it, click on the name of the virtual machine and go to SCSI Controller > Add.

Now you should boot the virtual machine that your disk is attached to. To do it, right-click on the virtual machine and select Start from the context menu.

start-virtual-machine.png

The disks are bootable if both "System State" and "Files and Folders" have been backed up successfully. You can check it on the "Overview" tab by pointing to the appropriate date on the calendar. If a Standby Image Backup session has been completed successfully, it will not be displayed in the list of backup sessions. You will only see the Standby Image Backup sessions that are currently in progress or that contain errors. Here is the full list of statuses: "In progress", "Completed with errors", "Not started", "Aborted", and "Failed".

standby-image-sessions.png

Mounting the disk to the local file system

If you want to be able to browse the files on the virtual disk, you can mount it to the local file system. This is done using default Windows utilities. No additional software installations are necessary.

It is recommended to use another computer for this purpose (not the one the disk has been created on). If you mount the disk on the same computer, it will stop being bootable (if it was bootable before). As a result, you won't be able to run it as a virtual machine.

Option A (VHDX format only)

1. Open the folder it is located in.
2. Right-click on the name of the disk.
3. Choose Mount from the context menu
mount-vhdx-through-context-menu.png

After that the virtual disk will appear as a regular logical disk on your computer. You'll be able to browse its contents using Windows File Explorer or any other file manager.

This option works for VHDX disks mounted on another computer. If you do it on the same computer the disk has been created on, there will be an error message. Please see option B if you get such an error.

couldnt-mount-file-error.png

Option B (VHDX and VHD formats)

The second option is good for both of the formats (VHD and VHDX). You can use it on the same computer the disk has been created on or on a different one

1. Start the Disk Management console (diskmgmt.msc).
2. Go to Action > Attach VHD.
3. Specify the path to the virtual disk.
disk-management.png

If you are attaching the disk to the same computer it has been created on, the disk will appear offline. All you need to do is right-click on the status and change it to "online" using the context menu. The disk will no longer be bootable after that.

4. Update the virtual disk

As long as the Standby Image feature is on, the virtual disks are updated automatically after each new backup session. So the standby image always stays up-to-date.

 

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