Bare metal restore is the restoring of your entire system (PC or server) from scratch with a completely blank hard drive. It refers to the literal “bare metal” hardware, void of any previously installed software or operating system, as the starting point for recovery. A bare metal restore is often needed after a catastrophic hard drive failure, which results in the need to either install a new hard drive or wipe the existing hard drive clean so that a user is essentially starting over with a blank hard drive.

Here are a few scenarios where a bare metal restore may be needed:

  1. Hard drive failure or system crash
  2. Windows won’t boot up (system error)
  3. Lost or stolen laptop
  4. Server hardware refresh
  5. Transition from physical to virtual servers
  6. Purchased new PC or laptop
  7. Transition from HHD to SSD
  8. Blue screen of death
  9. Software upgrade disaster
  10. Virus that corrupts Windows

An image backup can be used to do a Bare Metal Restore.An image backup can be used to do a Bare Metal Restore.

Bare Metal Restore Using an Image Backup

Unless you want to go through the daunting task of reinstalling every piece of software, including your operating system manually, you will want the help of a backup software solution that can perform a bare metal restore from an image backup. The term Image backup, is also referred to as a disaster recovery backup, ghost backup, image-level backup, disk imaging, block level backup, or a clone of your machine. If you can get past all of the names, it’s actually a pretty simple type of backup that essentially creates an exact copy or clone of your computer’s hard disk at the time of the backup. This type of backup creates a snapshot of your entire system and includes everything: your operating system, applications, preferences, email settings, and data.

An image backup is a very simple to configure type of backup where you normally have to just select an entire drive, partition, or entire machine which typically backs up everything that you have selected. Some backup software like NovaBACKUP, allows you to backup changes since the last full disaster recovery backup. Where disk image backups really shine is in a complete disaster type of situation. For example, if your hard drive dies, your Windows will not boot up or becomes corrupt, your laptop is stolen, a software upgrade goes horribly wrong, or some other major disasters that require a complete rollback of the entire machine. While most disk image backup products can access a single file from the disk image backup in the event you just need to restore a single file, file level backups are more suited to file level restores.

Verify that You Can Restore to Dissimilar Hardware

One thing to be aware of here is that not all backup software is created equal. When selecting a backup software solution, make sure that you verify that the software allows you to restore to dissimilar hardware. This is important to note because some solutions require that the hardware receiving the restore be identical to the original hardware backup source. As we all know, technology is always changing, and it’s simply not realistic to expect that the destination source for the restore will have the exact same hardware configuration as the source, so it is better to find a solution that doesn’t have this restriction.

For specific instructions on how to perform a bare metal restore after a hard drive failure using NovaBACKUP, view our post.

Physical to Virtual Bare Metal Restore for Windows

You can also use image-based bare metal recovery procedures to migrate from physical to virtual machines. If you are going through a hardware refresh and considering moving to virtual servers, this may be a technique to consider as it will save you a tremendous amount of time in your physical to virtual (P2V) conversion. Instead of restoring your image backup to another physical hard drive, simply restore your image backup to a virtual hard drive.

Here are the basic steps needed to perform a P2V image restore to a virtual machine using NovaBACKUP software:

  1. Create an Image Backup of your physical server
  2. Create a Boot Disk
  3. Spin up a new virtual machine
    1. Do not install the operating system on the VM
    2. Make sure the VM has at least (if not more) space than was used on the physical server
  4. Boot the VM using the Boot Disk you created in step 2
  5. The Boot Disk is a specialized version of Windows that includes a Disaster Recovery module, which will allow you to boot into the Disaster Recovery backup and restore wizard.
    1. Browse to the location of your existing image backup
  6. Choose which drives you will be restoring (whole disk or just a partition)
  7. Export disaster recovery image backup to a VHD (Virtual Hard Drive)
  8. Select the destination of the restore as the new virtual machine
  9. Let the software restore your image backup

If you need assistance in this transition, make sure you select a backup software company like NovaStor that offers local support from in-house technicians, so you know you will be able to get the help you need, when you need it.