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Can a backup from one server be restored to a completely different new server?

Can a backup from one server be restored to a completely different server? For example, could we do a backup from a five-year-old DEC server to a new Dell server? Obviously the hardware is completely different.
In that scenario, I would recommend manually installing the operating system and applications on the new hardware, then using your backups to restore user and application data. When moving to new hardware, restoring the operating system itself can become problematic due to registry entries and what-not.

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