Datto Disaster Recovery Guide

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1. Scope

This article guides you through the best course of action to prepare for and act in a Disaster Recovery scenario. These instructions apply to Datto's Business Continuity Devices -- SIRIS and ALTO.

In any Disaster Recovery Scenario, being prepared ensures a smooth process. We recommend that you read this guide thoroughly, before you ever need to follow a disaster recovery plan.

2. Background

Datto is committed to Intelligent Business Continuity. Not only do we want to get you back up and running instantly, we want to guide you in ensuring that your systems continue to perform as efficiently as possible. Let’s get started.

3. Have a plan in mind

3.1. Assess your environment

Before you ever find yourself in a Disaster Recovery scenario, ask the question "In the event of a true disaster, what servers will I need to effectively run the day-to-day business?"

Identifying your core infrastructure may take some time, but it will be very useful in creating and launching your emergency plan. Start with the five most-needed servers, and identify what resources and dependencies they have, as shown in Figure 1. Keep important passwords in a safe-yet-accessible location, so that you can retrieve them in the event of a Disaster Recovery scenario.

 

Agent

Function

OS

IP Address

Gateway

Cores

RAM

crash-free-dc

Domain Controller

 2012R2

 192.168.1.2

 192.168.1.1

 2

 8096

bugless-dns 

DNS Server

 2008

192.168.1.3 

192.168.1.1 

 4

8096 

never-fail-mail 

Mail Server

 2012R2

192.168.1.4 

 192.168.1.1

 4

 16384

Figure 1: Sample DR planning sheet

3.2. Perform a device audit

From the Partner Portal, you can create a Device Audit report for your core business servers. The report allows you to quickly review each server's backups, bootability, and offsite sync status in one report. Knowing the status of your backups will help you better understand what can be virtualized in a disaster.

3.3. Perform offsite Disaster Recovery tests

You can run tests of your offsite backups in an isolated or failover situation, which will help you plan how you will be able to respond during an event where local virtualization and restores are not possible.

Datto service also includes one assisted Cloud virtualization test per quarter, in which a Datto Technical Support Expert will help you make scheduling arrangements, set up the test, and answer any questions you may have.

You can learn more about scheduling an offsite Disaster Recovery test here.

4. Define the problem

Before deciding on a course of action, take the time to define the problem. Do this to avoid wasting time going down the wrong path. Think about the following:

4.1. What is the cause of the downtime?

Unless the problem is obvious (such as the office burning down), determine why your machine is down. Keep these items in mind:

  • If a piece of hardware failed, trouble may have been brewing for a while.
  • Did the OS become corrupt through infection by viruses or malware?
  • Was there a problematic software update?
  • Have your recent screenshot verifications been successful? If not, when did the problems begin?
  • Is the outage due to a utility or ISP? Get an update from your provider regarding the length of the outage.

The answers to these questions determine how you’ll want to restore and which recovery point to use.

4.2. Is there an easy solution?

In the course of an emergency, it is easy to forget to try the simple solution first. For example:

  • Is the file you are looking for in the recycle bin?
  • Do you have malware or a corruption that can be easily fixed?
  • Did you try a Windows repair disk?
  • Keep in mind that it is quicker and easier to restore to the hardware you are already using, if possible.

4.3. File/Granular Restore vs. Full Machine Restore

In most cases, you do not need to virtualize an entire machine to recover one or more files. If you need to do a data restore, the quickest procedure is a file or application restore.

Conversely, do you need the OS volume but not the data? In the case of a large data store, it may be quicker to do a "hybrid restore" in which you spin up a VM of the OS volume and then do a file restore of the data volume. For this option, you'll need the help of Datto Technical Support.

4.4. What Datto product are you using?

The restoration options that you have depend on which Datto product you are using. This article is geared towards Datto's Intelligent Business Continuity Devices -- SIRIS and ALTO. But there is also guidance for doing file restores from Datto NAS.

5. Getting back to business

Once you've determined your recovery objective (what you are trying to restore and from when), decide on your next steps.

5.1. File Restore

You can perform a local file restore from a recovery point of a protected machine or NAS share. To do so, see the article File Restore With SIRIS. If you need to restore a file from an iSCSI share, perform an iSCSI Restore.

If your Datto appliance is inaccessible or not functioning, you can perform a file restore from the Datto Cloud. See the article Cloud File Restore From Recovery Launchpad.

5.2. Full Machine Restore

If you need to restore a full machine from a SIRIS or ALTO, we recommend that you virtualize a recovery point before doing a Bare Metal Restore (BMR). Then, use that recovery point to do the BMR. There are three advantages to this course of action:

Virtualizing the recovery point:

  • allows you to get back to business in an instant
  • proves that the recovery point can virtualize, and
  • starting a VM of the recovery point may show that problems exist in the recovery point. In the latter case, it would be a waste of time to do a Bare Metal Restore of a recovery point that is going to lead to more downtime.

It's important to test your recovery point before performing a Bare Metal Restore.

Tip: If you run the Virtual Machine for business continuity and, in that process, make changes to that VM, the Datto device automatically backs up that VM as if it was a production machine (Will need to ensure the network settings match what the production server used). In that case, use these recent backup points to do a BMR, rather than restoring from the older recovery points.

5.3. Virtualization

Unless your Datto device is inaccessible, we highly recommend that you virtualize locally rather than from the Cloud.

Be prepared: Perform regular virtualization tests (local and offsite), so that when the real thing hits, you are ready for anything.

If you are in an emergency situation, and you need to virtualize from the Cloud, contact Datto Technical Support right away, as you may need intervention from our team.

The following table points you to the appropriate virtualization procedure for your SIRIS or ALTO device:

  Local Cloud Hybrid
SIRIS Local VM Cloud VM Hybrid VM
vSIRIS Local VM Cloud VM Hybrid VM
ALTO / vALTO Hybrid VM

G-Series and Datto NAS appliances do not have the capability to virtualize. You must do a file restore to recover data from these devices.

If you want to virtualize your system with VMware, you can perform an ESXi Virtualization. See the article ESXi Virtualization Configuration for more information.

If you need to troubleshoot a virtual machine, refer to the Disaster Recovery category of the Datto Knowledge Base.

Do not resize any volumes of an active restore. Doing so can result in backup malfunctions and possible data loss.

5.4. USB Bare Metal Restore

With SIRIS or ALTO, you can do a Bare Metal Restore (BMR). To perform a BMR, your system must meet these requirements:

  • The target machine must have 64 bit hardware. 32 bit Windows OSes are supported by the USB BMR Process as long as the target machine is built with 64 bit Hardware.
  • The target machine must be able to boot off of USB. To force a USB boot, you can try using a boot loader such as Plop.
  • The USB BMR is not intended to be a server imaging tool. It is meant to act as a tool to restore downed servers. This restore process is not a deployment tool.
  • OSes will be restored as a single partition, so if you have a software RAIDed OS, do not use the USB BMR method. Call Datto Technical Support for this type of recovery.

Note: In order to restore other software RAIDed partitions, restore the OS, and then configure the other partitions in Windows as a software RAID. Once completed, file restore the necessary snapshot on the Datto and transfer over. It would be wise to contact support to copy with Windows file permissions as a regular file restore does not have the ability to do this directly. We use Robocopy to perform this task.

If you are performing a BMR from a VM on a Datto appliance, ensure that all volumes are successfully restored before you remove the active restore from the Datto appliance. For all volumes to completely restore, you must take several backups: For n number of backups, you must take n+1 backups before performing a BMR. Otherwise, you will lose data.

To perform a BMR, follow the instructions starting with this article: USB Bare Metal Restore: Getting Started.

5.5. Restore to a Hypervisor

From ALTO or SIRIS, you can perform a restore of a virtual machine to Citrix XenServer, Windows Hyper-V, or VMWare.

Export Image

Use this option to export the recovery point to vSphere Hypervisor (via VMDK) or Microsoft Hyper-V (via VHD). You can export to an attached USB drive or a Network Share (CIFS/Samba or NFS)

This option is available for Windows and Linux protected machines.

For instructions to Export an Image, see the article Restore: Export Image.

ESXi Upload

This option uploads a restore point to a connected ESXi host via VMware Converter. Use this option if you want to use the ESXi host for computing power and as a datastore. Depending on the size of your datastore, this may take a while to transfer, but once it is transferred, there is no disk I/O burden on the SIRIS, nor need for adequate bandwidth between the SIRIS and the ESXi host. The datastore is thick provisioned on the ESXi host, which increases the speed of the virtualization.

This option is available for Windows and Linux protected machines.

To connect to a VMware hypervisor from a Datto appliance, you must be using a paid version of ESXi host on vSphere 5.1, 5.5, or 6.0. VMware vSphere 5 Hypervisor licensing is not supported.

5.6. Microsoft Exchange Data Restore

SIRIS machines come with licensing for Kroll Ontrack PowerControls for Exchange and SQL. This tool allows you to restore individual Exchange messages, individual Exchange mailboxes, or many Exchange mailboxes. To use this tool, refer to the article Exchange Mailbox Restore with Kroll Ontrack.

5.7. Microsoft SQL Data Restore

For the procedure to do a SQL Data Restore with Kroll Ontrack PowerControls for SQL, log into the Web UI of your Datto, and go to Advanced -> Granular Restore. For step by step instructions, see the article Granular SQL Restore With Ontrack PowerControls.

5.8. Active Directory Restore

Active Directory restores can be tricky. We recommend that you follow Microsoft's instructions on how to restore AD. See the Microsoft TechNet article Restoring Active Directory from Backup Media.

5.9. Restoring from the Datto Cloud

If you are running a Virtual Machine in the Datto Cloud and need to bring your data back onsite for a Bare Metal Restore or a File Restore, you have two options. The one you should choose depends on the size of the restore. If your restore is small and you have the bandwidth to receive the restore in a reasonable amount of time, Datto Technical Support can transfer your data back to your Datto device. If you have a larger restore, we also offer the option of a Reverse Round Trip drive. As the name suggests, it is the opposite of seeding your data in the Cloud, as we will reverse-seed your device back from the Cloud. See the article 2015 Reverse RoundTrip (revRT) process; physical data retrieval from cloud for more information about this option.


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