Disk Imaging for Physical and Virtual Machines

Paragon’s Drive Backup 10 Server software leverages disk imaging tools to simplify storage management issues, from consolidation to disaster recovery protection, in both physical and virtual environments.

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By Jack Fegreus, openBench Labs

Entrenched at the top of the list of storage challenges is data protection, which includes the perennial problem of data backup. IT groups at large enterprises continue to struggle with meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that continue to tighten both the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)—the maximum amount of data measured in time prior to the disruption that could be lost in the recovery process—and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO)—the maximum period of time that it could take to recover. Meanwhile, IT administrators at SMBs, who often have less storage expertise and tighter budgets than their peers at larger enterprises, struggle with more prosaic issues, such as choosing technologies to simplify backup processing within shrinking backup windows.

To help IT deal with data protection issues at all types of sites, Paragon Software Group’s Drive Backup 10 Server creates exact image copies of live disk drives on physical and virtual systems running a Windows-based OS. With a technology foundation featuring synthetic backups, along with full support for both VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V, Drive Backup 10 extends standard data protection constructs with wizards that employ the same menus for backup and system migration processes to support physical-to-virtual (P2V) consolidation.

What’s more, IT can use the Paragon Script Language (PSL) to customize the synthetic and differential backup wizards in Drive Backup 10 Server. Using PSL, IT administrators can create scripts to automate end-to-end data protection processes, which can implement Paragon Hot Backup and Microsoft VSS snapshot technologies to maintain transactional integrity. In particular, the Paragon synthetic backup scheme by default supports differential backup, which on multiple VM backup jobs can reduce storage capacity requirements on the order of 30-to-1 without the extra processing incurred with inline data deduplication. As a result, administrators can leverage PSL to invoke fast differential backups to support near-CDP levels of replication for VMs, and then match that aggressive RPO with an equally aggressive RTO using synthetic backup images that can be restored in minutes. Continue reading Disk Imaging for Physical and Virtual Machines

White Paper: Maximize Data Protection for Physical and Virtual Systems

For IT organizations of all sizes, storage continues to be the primary resource driving operating costs. Entrenched at the top of the list of storage problems is data protection, which includes the perennial problem of data backup. IT groups at large enterprises continue to struggle with meeting Service Level Agreements (SLAs) that continue to tighten both the Recovery Point Objective (RPO)—the maximum amount of data measured in time prior to the disruption that could be lost in the recovery process—and the Recovery Time Objective (RTO)—the maximum period of time that it could take to recover. Meanwhile, IT administrators at small to medium sized business (SMBs), who often have less storage expertise and tighter budgets, struggle with more prosaic issues, such as choosing technologies to simplify backup processing in shrinking backup windows.

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To help IT at all types of sites deal with data protection issues, Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server creates an exact image copy of a live disk drive on physical and virtual servers and workstations running a Windows-based operating system. Using multiple snapshot technologies, Drive Backup 10 Server is able to maintain transactional integrity of the file system structures on the disk, including all Windows OS files, configuration files, and databases.

More importantly, IT does not have to purchase extra-cost options to leverage Drive Backup 10 Server in a virtual environment, such as VMware® vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V™. Running Drive Backup Server, an IT administrator can go beyond simply restoring a backup image as a virtual machine application or as a collection of Windows OS files. By applying Paragon’s 3rd generation of Adaptive Restore technology, an IT administrator is able to insert new drivers into an image and create a bootable volume for an entirely different physical or virtual environment.

Of particular importance for IT at SMB sites, Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server is very easy to deploy and use. In addition, the optional Paragon Remote Management (PRM) application provides a single management point for launching and running scripts developed with Paragon Drive Backup on systems across in a distributed enterprise environment. As a result, PRM is especially useful when running multiple VMs in a virtual environment, as IT administrators can rapidly backup and restore systems in minutes to garner an immediate return on investment.

More importantly, as CIOs focus on the virtualization of systems and storage as the magic philter to extract higher resource utilization and lower management costs, IT administrators are now working with limited numbers of abstract device pools rather than multiple instances of proprietary devices. VMware® vSphere™ 4 typifies such an environment with multiple heterogeneous servers running ESX® or ESXi™ hosting multiple virtual machines (VMs) running a variety of server and desktop operating systems. In the process of simplification, however, multiple levels of logical abstraction and resource redirection can also obscure and complicate important IT operations.

Among the hardest hit IT operations are those associated with file-level data protection. That has the potential to turn IT’s magic philter for gaining operating efficiency into a poison pill for compliance with regulatory mandates to secure and maintain critical business data. Fortunately, a key characteristic of a virtual environment is the encapsulation of VM logical disk volume as a single physical disk files. This representation makes image-level backups faster than traditional file-level backups and enhances restoration as virtual disks can be restored as either a whole image or individual files. That’s why, many general purpose backup packages integrate with VMware Consolidated Backup (VCB) to provide imaging-based backup.

Nonetheless, VCB assumes a shared-disk storage infrastructure via a Fibre Channel or iSCSI SAN. For SMB sites functioning well with direct attached storage (DAS) and simple file sharing via networked attached storage (NAS) or FTP storage servers, the need to introduce a SAN in order to protect data in a virtual operating environment presents a prodigious stumbling block.

Paragon Backup 10 Server, however, provides IT with dedicated image-level data protection for VMs running a Windows OS on either a VMware hypervisor without VCB integration or a Microsoft Hyper-V environment. SMB sites can use Paragon Drive Backup 10 Server to provide VMs with full data protection without a major storage infrastructure change from DAS to SAN. What’s more, Paragon enhances the value of Drive Backup 10 and PRM for SMB sites with support for the ESXi hypervisor under the free public license as well as with a full paid license. With more servers featuring ESXi firmware bundles, the ability to work with Windows-based VMs hosted on this hypervisor with the public license is particularly important for IT at SMB sites.

Download the free White Paper.

Paragon Software Enables Migration of Windows Systems to a Virtual Environment

In keeping with its commitment to enabling seamless transitions between operating systems, Paragon Software Group (PSG), :  the technology leader in innovative data security and data management solutions, today announced the debut of its Virtualization Manager 2009 Corporate Edition.

“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.”
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As IT executives look to conserve budget resources, server virtualization is proving to be an attractive option, offering benefits including, optimum resource utilization, reduction in hardware expenses, lower energy consumption, and the ability to reallocate IT personnel. Fewer servers also require less maintenance, thus, further reducing IT infrastructure costs.

Paragon’s new Virtulization Manager 2009 Corporate Edition was developed to help ease the migration process and enable businesses to maximize their current IT investments. A powerful tool that easily migrates a Windows-based system to a virtual environment, Paragon’s Virtualization Manager :  2009 Corporate Edition helps businesses maximize the utility of servers increasing their efficiencies while decreasing energy costs by up to 80 percent.

Virtualization Manager also easily migrates a Windows-based system to a different environment, whether it be a physical to physical (P2P) or physical to virtual (P2V) migration. Additional Virtualization Manager :  functionalities include: recovering an OS after an unsuccessful system virtualization by a third-party tool; creating a virtual clone of the physical system and saving it on a network for backup purposes; providing a failsafe that ensures business continuity; and enabling the installation of several different operating systems on one computer.

“Paragon Software is committed to offering the most powerful and easy to use system migration and data conversion tools on the market,” noted Tom Fedro, president of Paragon Software Group. “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.”

Key features and benefits include:

—  Full Windows OS Support – Guaranteed support for any Windows OS post-Win2K
—  P2V Copy – Migrate a physical system to a virtual disk
—  P2V Restore – Migrate a physical system backed up with Paragon software to a virtual disk
—  P2V Adjust – Recover OS startup ability after unsuccessful virtualization by a 3rd party tool
—  P2P Adjust – Recover OS startup ability after system migration to a different hardware platform
—  Hot Copy Technology – Online processing of locked hard disks for easy
—  Smart Driver Injector – Makes adding new drivers smooth and simple
—  Virtual Disk Map – Preview changes before applied
—  Flexible Destination Choices – Choose any destination to place virtual disks
—  Partition Auto-Resize – Easily set desired partition size when creating virtual disks
—  2 Types of VMWare Disks – Create either IDE or SCSI disks for VMWare
—  Disk File Split for VMWare – Automatically cut virtual images to files of 2 GBs each for improved data management

Virtualization Manager is now available from Paragon Software; please visit www.paragon-software.com/business/vm/ to learn more.

Review by: VMblog.com

Physical to Virtual Migration – Paragon Software Adaptive Restore Technology

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Drive Backup Listed in Top 10 Products of 2009

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.

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http://channeltechcenter.com/s/878.a-look-back-the-most-important-products-in-2009/3/

Partition Manager For Data Centers

Make Short Work Of A Long Task

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.
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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.

The Competition

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.

Disk Imaging Software

The ghost in the machine: 3 disk imaging apps – 11/24/09

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 Backup and Recovery 10 Suite

Paragon Software Group
Price: $70
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.

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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 Introduces New Backup Solution for SMBs

11/20/09

http://www.channelprosmb.com/article/15247/Paragon-Software-Introduces-New-Backup-Solution-for-SMBs/

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.

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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.