Backing Up and Restoring Failover Clusters

Windows Server 2008 R2 contains a rebuilt backup program appropriately named Windows Server Backup. Windows Server Backup can be used to back up each cluster node and any cluster disks that are currently online on the local node. Also, the System State of the cluster node can be backed up individually or as part of a complete system backup.

To successfully backup and restore the entire cluster or a single cluster node, the cluster administrator must first understand how to troubleshoot, back up, and restore a standalone Windows Server 2008 R2 system using Windows Server Backup. The process of backing up cluster nodes is the same as for a standalone server, but restoring a cluster might require additional steps or configurations that do not apply to a standalone server. To be prepared to recover different types of cluster failures, you must take the following steps on each cluster node:

» Back up each cluster node’s local disks.

» Back up each cluster node’s System State.

» Back up the cluster quorum from any node running in the cluster.

» For failover clusters using shared storage, back up shared cluster disks from the node on which the disks are currently hosted.

Failover Cluster Node—Backup Best Practices
As a backup best practice for cluster nodes, administrators should strive to back up everything as frequently as possible. Because cluster availability is so important, here are some recommendations for cluster node backup:

» Back up each cluster node’s System State daily and immediately before and after a cluster configuration change is made.

» Back up cluster local drives and System State daily if the schedule permits or weekly if daily backups cannot be performed.

» Back up cluster shared drives daily if the schedule permits or weekly if daily backups cannot be performed.

» Using Windows Server Backup, perform a full system backup before any major changes occur and monthly if possible. If a full system backup is scheduled using Windows Server Backup, this task is already being performed.

Restoring an Entire Cluster to a Previous State
Changes to a cluster should be made with caution and, if at all possible, should be tested in a nonproduction isolated lab environment first. When cluster changes have been implemented and deliver undesirable effects, the way to roll back the cluster configuration to a previous state is to restore the cluster configuration to all nodes. This process is simpler than it sounds and is performed from only one node. There are only two caveats to this process:

» All the cluster nodes that were members of the cluster previously need to be currently available and operational in the cluster. For example, if Cluster1 was made up of Server1 and Server2, both of these nodes need to be active in the cluster before the previous cluster configuration can be rolled back.

» To restore a previous cluster configuration to all cluster nodes, the entire cluster needs to be taken offline long enough to restore the backup, reboot the node from which the backup was run, and manually start the cluster service on all remaining nodes.

To restore an entire cluster to a previous state, perform the following steps:

1. Log on to one of the Windows Server 2008 R2 cluster nodes with an account with administrator privileges over all nodes in the cluster. (The node should have a full system backup available for recovery.)

2. Click Start, click All Programs, click Accessories, and select Command Prompt.

3. At the command prompt, type wbadmin get versions to reveal the list of available backups. For this example, our backup version is named 09/16/2009-08:30 as defined by the version identifier.

4. After the correct backup version is known, type the following command wbadmin Start Recovery –version: 09/16/2009-08:30 –ItemType:App –Items:Cluster (where version is the name of the backup version name), and press Enter.

5. Wbadmin returns a prompt stating that this command will perform an authoritative restore of the cluster and restart the cluster services. Type in Y and press Enter to start the authoritative cluster restore.

6. When the restore completes, each node in the cluster needs to have the cluster service started to complete the process. This might have been performed by the restore operation, but each node should be checked to verify that the cluster service is indeed started.

7. Open the Failover Cluster Manager console to verify that the restore has completed successfully. Close the console and log off of the server when you are finished.

Source of Information : Sams - Windows Server 2008 R2 Unleashed (2010)

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