Server Recovery Using StorageCraft HeadStart Restore

StorageCraft ImageManager provides several functionalities, including the ability to create an HSR (HeadStart Restore) job. An HSR job is used to start a restore operation before a disaster happens. An HSR job can significantly reduce server restore time when a server failure occurs, especially with servers with larger disk drives. It works by creating virtual disks files that are updated immediately as new snapshots are taken of production servers. In a server restore scenario, these virtual disks can then be used to create a new virtual server to take place of the production server that has failed.

There are several factors to consider when planning to use HSR.

  1. You will typically want to restore the virtual disks to a different hypervisor (Hyper-V or VMWare Server) than what your production servers are hosted on. If you don’t, a physical server failure can affect the availability of both the production server as well as the HSR virtual disks. In which case the HSR created virtual disks are unavailable.
  2. When defining an HSR job, you must define a lag time. This lag time can be anywhere from 1 hour, up to 30 days. The purpose of the lag time is to allow you the ability to restore to a point in time before a failure or issue with the server occurred. For example, if a server becomes infected with ransomware, it typically takes several hours for your IT staff to become aware of the issue and start a recovery process. If the HSR lag time is defined as 1 hour, you may not be able to use the HSR virtual disks because they too will include the ransomware encrypted files. HSR jobs need to run a finalization process in which you pick the date and time of the restore point. In the ransomware example above, if you are taking server snapshots hourly and your lag time is 1 or more days, you would determine when the ransomware infection started, then finalize your HSR job to be the hourly snapshot prior.
  3. Using HSR jobs will require approximately double the drive space allocated to backups since you are saving a copy of the snapshots as well as the HSR created virtual disks.
  4. HSR jobs will require an additional step beyond creating a new virtual server to make the virtual disks bootable. The HSR job must first be finalized, then you will need to setup the boot configuration using the ShadowProtect Recovery Environment disk. Ideally the Shadow Protect Recovery Environment disk would be created ahead of time.

If HSR sounds like an option you’d like to implement, I recommend running through a test restore and documenting the steps for your environment. After all, the main objective of the HSR functionality is to minimize server recovery time. If you are not familiar with or not ready to perform an HSR recovery following a server failure, the recovery time will increase.

Do you have any questions regarding server recovery and StorageCraft? Contact Sikich to discuss options for your specific IT needs.

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