“Virtualization Manager 2009 Corporate is truly state of the art technology that saves our customers time and money while providing complete flexibility to migrate within both virtual and physical system environments.”
By: Brian Chee
What Paragon has done is leverage their amazingly good backup and restore system to allow you to slide in additional drivers during the restore process.
So while the VMWare boys have certainly addressed the issue of migrating from a physical server (one OS hogging the entire piece of hardware) what about those of us that have some legacy VM’s from the Microsoft world? So far the answer has been too bad, but now the folks from Paragon Software have created an addon for their version 9 of Drive Backup Pro and will bake it into version 10 when it’s released. So the answer is to bring up your legacy VM’s (remember Virtual Server R2 is still free) and run the P2V migration tool.
The folks at Paragon seem to be leveraging all that experience in juggling OS operations while doing backups in order to create an amazing tool that not only does a terrific job of backing up live servers/workstations; but also takes a great deal of pain out of the migration from a physical server to a virtual one. The hassle of moving a server really boils down to drivers. Just because you have that abstraction layer in VMWare of Microsoft’s Hypervisor, it doesn’t mean you’ll immediately have all the necessary drivers on your server. So just doing a backup and restore isn’t going to cut it if you’re moving to new technology, especially since you may end up with the blue screen of death as Windows bitches about drivers problems and is stopping your machine for safety… What Paragon has done is leverage their amazingly good backup and restore system to allow you to slide in additional drivers during the restore process.
So while this slide is where Paragon let’s you slip in drivers into a physical to physical (P2P) move, the exact same mechanism allows you to slide in a set of new drivers in a physical to virtual (P2V)migration. I should also point out that their backup system isn’t limited to only brand xxx drives, nor is it limited to physically attached drives. Backing up and restoring over the network is old hat to these folks and just how migrating a physical server over the network to your virtual host works.
Now here’s my favorite feature….the backup and restore system can also resize partitions on the fly. So if my laptop is fortunately enough to get a larger disk, I can drop in the new drive, boot the Paragon CD and connect my old disk on a USB interface. Since the new drive is bigger, it would be great to resize my partitions in a logical manner. I’d still want to leave my utilities partition the same size, but the OS and data partitions need to grow.
Now for the hat trick….the backup and restore by partition can handle non-windows partitions! So that means that full backup/restores can be done on a variety of machines and not just Windows. So if the laptop backup system you’re using is leaving you with an empty feeling, perhaps before you leave for the show, you might consider getting a copy of Paragon’s Drive Backup Professional.
10/9/09 By: Christian Perry
A segment of storage in almost every data center skirts by every day without doing much work. But through the use of partitioning, it’s possible to get that storage back to work and keep it there.
“Properly partitioned hard disks will allow the data center to maximize its storage investments by reallocating unused disk space and consolidating data, resulting in the need to purchase less new storage,” says Jim Thomas, technical services manager for Paragon Software Group (www.paragon-software.com). “Increased system performance can also be noticed through defragmentation of partition contents and the MFT [Master File Table].”
• Partitioning can help data centers deploy previously unused storage space for applications, testing, and other tasks by dividing hard drives into separate storage areas.
• Although the actual partitioning process is simple, experts recommend planning before conducting partitioning sessions to determine the best use for the technology and prepare for potential changes.
• Partitioning can force drive letter assignment changes, conflict with existing file system problems, and cause other issues, so data center personnel should expect the possibility of some problems with the technology.
At its core, partitioning is the process of dividing hard drives into separate storage areas, or partitions, to make use of previously unused disk space. According to Curtis Breville, data storage evangelist for Crossroads Systems (www.crossroads.com), partitioning was originally designed to dedicate part of a disk drive to a specific purpose to allow the data to be physically close together and speed up access to data on a device that used random-access searching.
“Partitioning also allowed for better use of disk space and kept one application from taking away space needed by another. With astute planning and accurate growth prediction, each application would have the right amount of storage, and there would be less wasted disk [space],” Breville says.
Today’s flexible partitioning technologies continue to build on that performance-enhancing tradition, delivering automated and unattended operations, RAID support, dynamic disk support, Windows-based tools for on-the-fly partitioning, and even bootable recovery media to enable partitioning operations while systems are offline. Also relatively new is thin provisioning, which allows partitioning without the need to physically allocate storage at initial setup.
Data center managers who neglect to implement partitioning for fear of disrupting delicate system environments might be pleased to learn that partitioning can occur while systems are online. However, before moving ahead with partitioning, experts recommend some basic planning procedures to ensure that the technology is working to its full potential.
“Typically, after the goals and business case for partitioning have been established, history performance data on existing servers and applications is collected to assist in the planning process as well as information on the importance of each application to the business,” explains Gary Thome, director of strategy and architecture for Infrastructure Software and Blades at HP (www.hp.com). “Architectures and partitioning software are chosen based on the goals of the project, along with plans for management, high availability and disaster recovery, and backup and security procedures.”
Thome also recommends determining the metrics the data center uses (or will use) to measure success. For example, is IT judged based on response time to end users? On percent of unplanned downtime? On costs of capital expenditures or of the power bill? Also, data centers planning to implement partitioning should gather utilization data from their existing servers, storage, and applications, Thome says.
The actual process of partitioning new or existing drives is surprisingly simple. “Most partitioning utilities show each hard drive in the system with graphic representation of the partition layout. After installing the partitioning software, an operation such as resizing partitions is usually as easy as dragging the border of a partition to the desired size or entering the desired size of the partition in numerical form, before allowing the application to carry out the partitioning operations behind the scenes,” Paragon’s Thomas says.
Rolling partitioning into production—that is, moving programs and data into a partitioned environment—can be accomplished with tools that automate the transfer of applications from physical servers to virtual servers, Thome says. From there, data centers can use ongoing monitoring and capacity planning to ensure the optimal distribution of workload and resources.
Although partitioning is generally a safe process, it’s not without pitfalls. For example, Thomas warns that when booting a server from recovery media, drive letter assignments might display differently than how they appeared in the host operating system. Further, he warns that file system errors and bad sectors can cause numerous problems, so it’s wise to check for physical errors and file system errors before creating or modifying partitions.
James Wilson, product manager for HP StorageWorks, says that another concern with storage cache partitioning is that the time required to move cache is variable and does not address short-term hot spots or sudden changes in workload. Further, the cache being moved is not available to any partition from the start of the move until the cache is reassigned to the new partition.
Despite these potential drawbacks, partitioning is here to stay in data center environments as an effective method for increasing operational efficiency. “Partitioning is like cutting a child’s birthday cake,” Thome says. “As long as you plan ahead and measure carefully, everybody is going to be happy.”
It’s always nice to have friends and fans bringing clips like this to our attention. Paragon Drive Backup 10 was listed by Channel Tech Center as one of the Top 10 Products of 2009. Thank you Channel Tech Center writers!
While many vendors have gotten the backup process down pat, there is still a lack of flexibility when it comes to restoring that data after a disaster. Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server allows administrators to convert backup images directly into Virtual Hard Drives (VHDs), making recovery from a disaster as simple as bringing up a virtual server on any hardware.
By : Julie Sartain
Rackspace, located in San Antonio, Texas, is a global, enterprise-level hosting service. It needed a reliable product to repartition its hosting servers, so the company could find and reallocate free disk space without reinstalling the operating systems of its 70,000-plus clients.
Paragon Software Group (www.paragon-software.com), located in Irvine, Calif., had the product Rackspace needed: Partition Manager 10, a program that not only repartitions servers but also provides a number of other partitioning and hard disk management tasks, all driven by a simple and user-friendly interface.
The Big Task
“Repartitioning a server’s partitions is a common request that we receive often,” says Trey Fischer, senior systems engineer at Rackspace (www.rackspace.com). “Our customers often want to move their free space around, and we don’t want to have to reinstall the operating system with each of these requests.”
According to Fischer, this process could be very costly and consume a large chunk of time. In addition to reinstalling the operating system, Rackspace would also have to migrate the client’s data and deploy new hardware. All these tasks result in extended downtime for Rackspace’s clients and its clients’ customers.
Because Rackspace designed and built the zero-downtime network (for its customers’ hosting needs only), it promises to reduce or eliminate client downtime, ensuring that promise with a money-back guarantee, notes Fischer. “That’s why we purchased the Paragon Partition Manager,” says Fischer, “to equip our rackers with a tool that can be used to repartition servers with minimum downtime.”
How It Works
“Partition Manager 10 combines common partitioning functions such as create, delete, format, and move with advanced capabilities such as resize, split, undelete, defragment, backup, restore, and more,” says Jim Thomas, technical services manager at Paragon Software. “Partition Manager’s interface provides virtual operations, which allows clients to visualize how the disk layout will appear once these operations are performed. Clients can also daisy-chain multiple operations before executing them as a single task.”
According to Thomas, Partition Manager can assist with common partitioning tasks such as formatting a partition with a FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, EXT2, EXT3, HPFS, or an Apple HFS file system, but it can also perform advanced tasks such as Power Shield protection. For example, if there is a power outage or system issue during the use of Partition Manager that causes the unexpected shutdown of the system during critical operations, Power Shield helps clients resume their tasks once power has been restored or the system is repaired, which eliminates any possible data loss.
The software also supports dynamic disks, letting clients convert from a dynamic disk back to a basic disk in order to carry out operations without loss of data. Drives can then be converted back to dynamic disks when all the necessary tasks are complete, notes Thomas. In addition, clients can manage partitions on RAID volumes as a single disk, repartition SANs to maximize storage efficiency, and/or perform partition alignment to optimize performance.
The built-in, universal file system drivers allow the software to browse almost any file system, including hidden or unmounted partitions, and to copy files and folders that would otherwise be inaccessible. Partition Manager also supports MBR (master boot record) and GPT (GUID partition table) partitioning schemes; IDE, SCSI, SATA, USB 1/2.0, and FireWire 400 and 800 hard drives; and CD-R/RW, DVD+/-R/RW, DL, and Blu-ray formats, Thomas adds.
Additional options are available for technician license subscribers. These add-on options include the Partition Manager Infrastructure, which offers operations scheduling and remote tasking. Because the software provides backup and restore capabilities, this add-on can also perform image-based deployments, and it includes an option for users to generate scripts that assist in queuing multiple operations for single-task execution. Other additional services assist clients with scripting and customization, Thomas says.
According to Fischer, Rackspace reviewed several other products, including open-source software, before choosing Paragon’s Partition Manager. “After evaluating the product for ease of use, speed of repartitioning, cost, and support, we determined that this product best fit our requirements,” Fischer says. “The competitors’ products were either too costly, lacked support, or just did not work with all our operating systems.”
Fischer says Rackspace also chose Partition Manager because the program provides support for the latest hardware advances and current operating system releases. For example, Paragon offered early support of Windows 7 and Windows 2008 Server, in addition to support for Blu-ray media and GPT disks. The software also is regularly maintained with patches and updates, which are available for all registered users.
One other key selling point is Paragon’s support team, which is available by Web site, email, or phone at any time to assist with any problems encountered. “But the product was so intuitive, product training was not required,” says Fischer. “Our support teams had used a competing product before we evaluated Paragon’s Partition Manager, and the interfaces were quite similar.” The program also scales well into environments of all sizes, says Fischer.
Intuitive & Easy To Use
Fischer says that Partition Manager definitely fulfills the company’s needs. It functions as expected, and the interface is quite intuitive and easy to use. “We have no regrets whatsoever, except that we didn’t find this product sooner,” says Fischer.
Another plus for Partition Manager is that it is designed to address the needs of both users and system administrators, and it comes in Personal, Professional, and Server editions. According to Paragon, basic users generally prefer Partition Manager over the native partitioning tools provided by their operating systems, which often lack the functionality of the Paragon products. And most system administrators have advanced requirements for functions that are not provided by an OS.
Partition Manager’s range of useful functions makes it ideal for either situation. “And the cost savings from switching from the competing product has really lowered our costs substantially. In terms of performance, we are pleased with the results of repartitioning, and we would recommend it as a tool in any technician’s toolbox,” Fischer says.
Fischer says Rackspace plans to continue offering the Partition Manager benefits to its customers. Because redistributing free disk space is a Rackspace feature and a client benefit, it is their right to request it. “So as long as Rackspace has customers that request relocation of their free disk space, i.e., reallocation to other partitions, we will continue to have and use a tool to meet those clients’ needs,” says Fischer.
By: Frank Ohlhorst
Historically, performing backups has been a tedious and time-consuming process fraught with limitations. While Microsoft has improved Windows’ backup functionality in general, Windows 7 still misses the mark when it comes to a full-featured backup and restore application.
The major reason that Windows’ Backup and Restore Center doesn’t fully satisfy is because it doesn’t offer the ability to ghost (or image) a hard drive. Ghosting works by creating a copy of all of the populated sectors on a hard drive and storing that raw data to a single file.
The advantages are numerous. For example, the backup file can be compressed to save space and then stored on another hard drive, optical disk, network share or other storage device. In addition, ghosting preserves all hard drive data (files, applications and operating systems) in a single operation, which greatly simplifies the backup process.
Ghosting technology also allows you to recover data in one simple step, by just restoring the complete image file to a hard drive. Some backup products also allow you to mount an image backup and then access individual files or directories to locate a particular file for copying, restoration or access.
For this roundup of backup applications that include ghosting functionality, I looked at Acronis True Image Home 20, Paragon Backup and Recovery 10 Suite and TeraByte Image for Windows. (At one point in time, Norton Ghost from Symantec is the imaging market leader, but the product was updated — to version 15 — too late to be included in this roundup.)
The products all offer the ability to back up a computer with imaging technology, restore those images to a hard drive and access individual files stored in an image file. They also offer incremental backup technology, where users create a master backup image and then update that image with only what has changed on the system since the initial backup.
At a Glance
Paragon Software Group
Available for: Windows 2000/XP/Vista/7, DOS, Linux, WinPE
Large descriptive menu buttons make it easy to launch wizards that make backup, restoration, file selection, creating rescue media and building schedules relatively straightforward. A tabbed interface located on the left side allows users to drill down into some of the more advanced features, such as converting images to virtual hard drives or browsing existing images to copy individual files.
Most users will find using the Smart Backup option the way to go. It is very easy to use and offers a good level of customization during the definition process. Options let you target e-mails, media files, or documents, or manually select specific files. The product offers multiple options for the location of a backup files, including network drives, burn to DVD and store to any FTP site.
Paragon Backup and Recovery 10 Suite
On the other hand, some users may be confused by the product’s virtual mode. Basically, all operations are “stored” and do not occur until you hit an “apply” button to activate the task — in other words, it actually looks like a backup is occurring, sort of a full dress rehearsal. Advanced users can forgo the virtual mode by changing the program’s preferences.
One very nifty feature is the product’s ability to convert an image into a virtual hard drive. That way, if you system fails altogether, you can run that image as a virtual hard drive on a system running desktop virtualization. That could prove to be a fast way to retrieve important data or run applications during a system disaster.
The product also offers a backup component that is loaded in the system tray, which handles automating the backup process using a snapshot process. This creates a static version of the current data on the hard drive. When the application detects changes in the data on the hard drive by comparing snapshots, an incremental backup is executed.
Performance was adequate. I was able to back up the 70GB of data in about two hours and 15 minutes. Subsequent backups using the incremental setting only took a few minutes, depending upon how much information was changed on the hard drive.
Where Paragon Backup and Recovery 10 Suite really shines is with features such as the ability to back up, restore and convert virtual hard drives, as well as create WinPE bootable rescue media.
Paragon Software Group (PSG), a data security and data management solutions company based in Irvine, Calif., has released its Drive Backup 10 Server Edition, which the company says is a comprehensive, cost-effective backup solution that offers disaster recovery and system migration in both physical and virtual environments. The solution is specifically targeted to SMBs.
Drive Backup 10 Server Edition is designed to optimize workload, reduce recovery times and associated costs with migrating or deploying systems, and give IT managers flexibility in managing the continuity of their systems–whether in a physical or virtual environment.
The solution includes Adaptive Restore, which gives the ability to restore to different hardware; competitive offerings, says Paragon, require purchasing this functionality as an add-on module.
“With the growing complexity and associated challenges of managing and protecting data assets, piecemeal approaches to backup miss the mark,” says Deni Connor of Storage Strategies Now. “Paragon’s comprehensive approach to backup tracks well with the needs we see today.”
As the corporate environment continues to embrace virtualization and reap its economic benefits, Paragon Software developed the newest edition of its flagship Drive Backup product to enable and simplify migration to a virtual environment. Drive Backup 10 Server Edition creates an exact duplicate image of the live disk drives on servers or workstations, including the operating system, all files, programs, updates, and databases. Additional new features and benefits include:
- Backup to FTP – Expanded backup capability to include online archiving
- Schedule file backup – Include/exclude file types
- Adaptive Restore – Third generation
- Improved remote management capabilities
- Support for Windows 2008 R2 and Windows 7
Drive Backup 10 Server Edition also offers a system boot corrector, ability to create and manage custom scripts, virtual operations to preview tasks before making them live, and a file transfer wizard.
Priced at $499, Drive Backup 10 Server Edition is now available from Paragon Software; visit www.paragon-software.com/business/db-server/ to learn more. Or, to access the company’s forum for Drive Backup users, go to www.wilderssecurity.com/forumdisplay.php?f=107.