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Windows Server 2003's backup utility: Eliminating the confusion

Many of the items on the Advanced Restore Options menu of Windows Server 2003 are fundamental for performing backup.

Restoring successfully means more than copying a bunch of files. In Windows Server 2003, there are several choices on the Advanced Restore Options menu that, if you choose correctly, will produce a fully functional system after your restore. In fact, if you don't set them correctly, your system is likely to exhibit some very peculiar -- and unsatisfactory -- behavior.

Unfortunately, some items on the Advanced Restore Options menu have implications that aren't easy to understand.

One in particular is the "preserve existing volume mount points." This option doesn't preserve the volume mount points in the volumes you are restoring. Instead, it prevents the restore from overwriting any volume mount points on the partition or volume you are restoring to. You'll find this option useful if you're reloading data onto a replacement drive you have already formatted, partitioned and restored its volume mount points.

The confusing part is that this option does the opposite of what you might think it does. Selecting it does not restore the mount points from the data being restored. If you want to use the volume mount points in the data you are restoring, you should uncheck this option.

Another important item on this menu says, "when restoring replicated data sets, mark the restored data as primary data for all replicas." You should select this only if the data set you are restoring is the first of several replica sets to the network -- a primary restore, in other words. This option copies the File Replication Services data from this data set to all other servers on the network with a replica of this set.

Checking "restore security" restores the security settings to each file and folder being backed up. That includes permissions, audit entries and ownership. This option can also save you a lot of work. However, it is only available under Windows Server 2003 running NTFS.

The "restore junction points, restore file and folder data under junction points to the original location" option selects the system restores and the junction points as well as the data being pointed to. If you don't select it, you will only restore the folder containing the mounted drive.

Microsoft covers this in a TechNet article at:

Although the document refers to Microsoft Exchange, the information is generic to Windows Server 2003.

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80 K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last 20 years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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