- 1. Click the Automated System Recovery Wizard button at the Welcome tab of the
Backup Utility window or, alternatively, select the ASR wizard command from
the Tools menu. Click the Next button in the first window of the ASR wizard.
2. In the next window, you need to select the backup-media type and specify the
backup destination (Fig. 2.5). If your computer is equipped with a tape backup
device, select this device from the Backup media or file name list. Notice that if
there is no tape backup device in your system, the File option will be set by
default in the Backup media type field. Enter the path to the backup media or file
into the Backup media or file name field (backup files always have a default
BKF filename extension) or click the Browse button to navigate through the file
Figure 2.5: The ASR preparation wizard prompts you to specify the backup-media
type and select the backup media or file name
3. In the last window of the ASR preparation wizard, click the Finish button to start
the backup process.
4. The Backup utility will scan your system and list files to save for an ASR backup.
Next, it prompts you to provide backup media. Insert backup media when
prompted by Backup and follow the directions on-screen. The wizard will display
a series of messages such as: Mounting the media and Preparing to backup using a
shadow copy. Then the Backup Progress window will appear (Fig. 2.6),
reflecting the ASR backup progress.
- Figure 2.6: The Backup Progress window
5. When the backup operation is completed, the ASR wizard prompts you to insert a
blank floppy disk (Fig. 2.7), to which it saves hard disk configuration information,
such as disk signatures, the partition table, volume data, the hardware
configuration of your system and the list of files to be restored. No user data will
be recorded to this diskette. If you run the ASR restore operation later, ASR
Restore will configure disks using data saved to the ASR floppy disk.
Figure 2.7: As the final step of the ASR backup procedure, the wizard prompts
you to provide a blank formatted diskette to store the recovery information
6. When the ASR backup wizard finishes creating the ASR diskette, it displays a
message box with a message recommending you to label the diskette as the ASR
recovery disk and store it in safe place. Click OK to close this message box. If you
want to view a report on the results of the backup operation, click the Report
button in the Backup progress window (Fig. 2.8).
- Figure 2.8: The Backup Progress window informs you about completion of the
backup operation and allows you to view the report
Performing the Automated System Recovery
The process of restoring a damaged system using the ASR procedure relies on the
Windows XP/Windows Server 2003 Setup program; therefore, besides your backup
media and the most recent ASR floppy disk, you will also need the distribution CD. In
fact, this process is very similar to an unattended setup of the operating system, since
ASR will restore your disk configuration using the data saved to the ASR floppy,
reformat your %Systemdrive% partition (the one where the Windows XP or Windows
Server 2003 copy to be recovered is installed), and then reinstall Windows XP or
Windows Server 2003 on that partition and restore the system files using the backup
Note ASR is not a replacement for regular backup procedures, since it doesn't eliminate
the danger of data loss. Remember that ASR doesn't back up application files and
user data. As has already been mentioned, it only formats the %Systemdrive%
partition as part of the recovery process and doesn't restore personal data or
application files that may reside on that drive. Therefore, if you store user-data files
or install applications on the system partition, these data will be lost. Because of
this, always consider other recovery options, such as Recovery Console, before
using ASR. More detailed information about Recovery Console will be provided
later in this chapter.
To recover your system using ASR, proceed as follows:
1. Prepare everything that you'll need during the ASR restore process, including:
- o The most recent ASR floppy disk
o The Windows XP or Windows Server 2003 distribution CD
o The most recent ASR backup media set, typically removable media such as
2. Start the Setup program. Insert the distribution CD into your CD-ROM drive and
reboot the computer.
3. Press any key to answer the Press any key to boot from the CD... prompt.
4. The Setup program will start. When you see the Press F2 to run Automated
System Recovery (ASR) prompt, press the key to start the ASR restore
5. Insert an ASR floppy disk when prompted.
6. The Setup program will display the following message:
Preparing to ASR, press to cancel
Note that at this stage you still have a chance to cancel the ASR by pressing the
key when prompted. This is important since, if you decide to continue,
your %Systemdrive% partition will be formatted as a next step.
7. If you don't react to the message prompting you to cancel the ASR restore process,
Setup will display a series of messages:
8. Setup is starting the ASR...
9. Setup is loading files
Setup is starting Windows
After that, the ASR process will reformat your %Systemdrive% partition and
check other partitions that it may determine as requiring repair.
Note Besides formatting the %Systemdrive% partition, ASR might also initialize
volumes that it determines to require repair. As has already been mentioned,
it only restores operating system files. Therefore, there is also a risk to user
files stored on these volumes.
10. When formatting and disk checks are completed, ASR will build a list of files to
be copied and prompt you to insert your ASR backup media (typically one or more
removable media, such as data-tape cartridges). If you saved the ASR backup to a
file, you will not be prompted to insert the media.
Note You must use locally attached devices, because restoring from network shares is not
an ASR option. Examples of locally attached devices include tape backup drives,
removable disks, or other hard disks. Concerning other hard disks, bear in mind that
ASR supports FAT16 volumes up to 2.1 GB (32K maximum cluster size) and does
not support 4 GB FAT16 partitions (64K maximum cluster size). If you start the
- ASR using a 4 GB FAT16 partition, the process will stop at this point. If this is the
case, first convert that partition from FAT16 to NTFS before using ASR.
Furthermore, if you are using local hard disks to store ASR backup sets, never save
ASR backup on the System or Boot partitions. The reason is very simple-remember
that, at the first stage of the ASR-restore process, the disk will be repartitioned and
the %Systemdrive% partition will be reformatted. Thus, your BKF file will be
destroyed and, when it comes to the actual restore process, the ASR-restoration
procedure will fail.
Backing up and Restoring the System State Data
Besides other extended capabilities, the built-in Backup utility supplied with Windows
XP and Windows Server 2003 allows the user to complete the procedure of backing up
the whole set of system-configuration files-the so-called System State Data. As has
already been mentioned, the registry is one of the most important system components,
vital even at the early stages of the boot sequence. Because of this, the registry has to be
included in this essential set of system files. However, there are some other files besides
the registry that are included in the System State Data set. Let's take a look at these files.
The concept of System State Data was first introduced with Windows 2000. As you
probably remember, in Windows NT 4.0 and earlier, built-in Backup programs can
selectively back up and restore operating-system files, allowing for incremental backup
and restore operations of most operating system files. Windows 2000/XP and the
products belonging to Windows Server 2003 family, however, don't allow incremental
backup and restoration of vitally important operating system files, which must be backed
up and restored as a single entity. This is the first, and the most important, thing that you
should know about System State Data.
The second interesting thing related to the System State Data is the fact that this set
differs slightly for different platforms. The System State Data set defined for client
workstations running Windows 2000 Professional and Windows XP Professional
operating systems and for servers (running Windows 2000 Server or Window Server
2003) that are not joined to a domain includes the following files:
COM+ classes registration database
Boot files, which are necessary to boot the system
The System State Data set for server platforms joined to a domain contains the same
components included in the System State Data set for Windows 2000/XP Professional,
plus the following data:
The Certificate Services database, if the server is a certificate server.
- The Active Directory database and the \SYSVOL directory, if the server is a
All information required to restore the cluster, if the server runs the cluster service.
This information includes the registry checkpoints and quorum resource log,
containing information on the cluster database.
Since the registry is included in the System State Data set, the procedures of backing up
and restoring the system-state data can be considered a method of backing up and
restoring the system registry.