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Image-Based Backup and Recovery with MSP360 Managed Backup

In this guide, we overview what image-based backup is, and how to perform it with MSP360 Managed Backup.

Check out the video version of this guide: Image-Based Backup with MSP360 Managed Backup

What Is Image-Based Backup?

Image-based backup allows you to take a snapshot of an entire operating system with all the applications and data. The backup is saved as a set of files that is called an image.

With this technology, you can recover the whole system on your customers' computers right from the system image file as it was at the moment of the last run of the image-based backup plan.

Image-based backup is extremely helpful in cases of:

  • Hardware or software failures
  • Hardware migration
  • Malware attacks

MSP360 Managed Backup supports the technology of image-based backup, providing faster recovery times and protecting businesses from the costs and consequences of downtime and data loss.

Image-Based Backup with MSP360 Managed Backup

Now let’s see how you can perform an image-based backup with MSP360.

Creating an Image-Based Backup Plan

To create an image-based backup plan, you need to sign in to the MSP360 Managed Backup console, go to the RMM tab, and then to the Remote Management section.

In the list of all available computers, choose the computer you want to create an image-based plan for, and then click the Settings icon next to it.

Click Show plans to see all the backup plans for this machine and then create a new plan by clicking “+” on the side panel and choosing an Image-based option.

  1. In the Image-Based Backup plan wizard, you will need first to specify a name for your new backup plan.

If you want to keep the backup plan configuration in backup storage, tick the check box below.

Please note that if you use encryption in the backup plan, the encryption password is not saved in backup storage by MSP360 for security reasons. Keep it separately in a safe place.

2. In the next step, you select where you want to back up your machine. Choose whether you want to perform local or cloud backup, or create a hybrid backup, and then choose the storage.

3. Next, you need to specify what you want to back up.

There are three options to choose from:

  • Back up the only system required partitions. Select this option to back up only those partitions that are necessary for the proper functioning of the operating system.
  • Back up all partitions. Use this option to include all available partitions in the backup.
  • Select partitions to back up manually. Select this option to back up only specific partitions. If you pick this option, tick the desired partitions in the table below.
    If you want to use the Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS), tick the checkboxes for the required partitions.

In order to be able to use the Bitlocker feature, you need to enable Bitlocker on the target machine and encrypt the partitions beforehand.

4. In the next step, you need to specify the compression and encryption options.

Enable compression and encryption, if desired.

For encryption, there are three algorithms available; select the one you want and specify and confirm an encryption password.

5. Next, you need to specify the retention policy.

You can use the default options specified for the whole product (which is keeping three versions of your files) or specify a custom retention policy.

You can choose to keep a certain number of versions or remove versions older than a certain number of days.

Tick the Always keep the last version checkbox if you want to keep the last image file version in backup storage regardless of whether it is deleted in the backup source. It is highly recommended to do so for backup plans with sensitive data.

6. In the next step, you can specify the following advanced options:

  • Whether you want to use S3 Transfer Acceleration (available only for backups to Amazon S3)
  • Select the Amazon S3 storage class (also available only for backups to Amazon S3)
  • You can also exclude specific files or folders from your backup
  • Choose if you want to perform Synthetic Full Backup
  • Ignore bad sectors
  • Disable VSS and use direct access to an NTFS volume
  • And tick the Use system VSS provider checkbox if you want to use Microsoft VSS provider.

7. In the next step, you need to set the schedule options for your backup.

Select the No schedule option if you would like to run the backup plan manually.

Select the Specific date option if you want your backup plan to run at a specific date and time. You will then need to specify the date and time you want the backup plan to run.

Select the Recurring (predefined templates) option if you want the backup plan to run on an ongoing periodic basis using the built-in templates. These settings will be specified in the next step.

Select the Recurring (advanced) option if you want your backup plan to run on a constant periodic basis. These settings will be specified in the next step.

You can also choose to stop the backup plan if it runs for longer than the desired time period, run a missed scheduled plan immediately when the computer starts up, and get an alert if the backup plan fails to run for a specified time after the last successful backup.

8. If you have chosen the Recurring (predefined templates) or Recurring (advanced) schedule option, in the next step you will be prompted to specify the corresponding options.

9. After that, you can specify the pre-and post-backup actions, including

  • Synchronizing the local repository with storage before the backup
  • A specific action you would like to be performed before or right after the execution of the backup plan
  • You can also chain the backup with another backup plan. To do so, tick the Execute following plan after the backup completes checkbox, choose the backup plan, and choose whether you want to chain backup plans only if the backup plan is successfully completed, or in every case.

10. In the next step, you can specify the notification settings:

You can set the backup status notifications. You can use the company notification options or create your own settings.

You can also set to add a backup plan record to the Windows Event Log. Here again, choose if you want to receive emails only for failed backups or for all backup jobs.

That’s it. The backup plan has been created.

Running an Image-Based Backup

To run the image-based backup plan you have just created, you need to go to the RMM tab, and then to the Remote Management section.

Next, you need to choose the computer you want to back up, press the Settings button, and then press Show plans.

Find the plan you want to run and press Start. Now your backup plan is running.

If you click on the down arrow next to your backup plan name, you can see the details and status of your plan, as well as edit, clone, or delete your backup plan.

Recovery From an Image-Based Backup

To perform a recovery from your image-based backup, you need to go to the RMM tab, and the Remote Management section, choose the machine you want to recover to and then click the Settings icon next to it. Next, you need to click Show plans and then create a Disk image restore.

In the first section, give your restore plan a name and specify whether you want to run it once after you create it, or run it later or make it scheduled.

In the next step, specify where you want to recover data from.

After this, you can specify whether you want the latest version of data to be restored or you need the version of your data at a specific point in time.

In the next step, you can select the type of restore. The following options are available:

  • Restore as a physical disk - This option lets you restore the failed disk on a physical machine.
  • Restore as a virtual disk - This option lets you restore your backup as a virtual disk and run it in a required format (Hyper-V, VMware)
  • Restore as Amazon EC2 Instance
  • Restore as EBS Volume
  • Restore as Azure Virtual Machine
  • Restore as Azure Data Disk

(The last four options let you run virtual machines based on your image in the computing services of one of the providers.)

After this, you can exclude specific partitions of your image disk by specifying the paths to these partitions. Also, there are advanced disc options in this step, so you can exclude bad sectors, disable VSS or choose to use a system VSS provider, choose the number and size for prefetch blocks, and select a physical disk or partition.

Then you can set the destination

In the next step, you choose if you want to set password-protected decryption and specify a password.

Please note that MSP360 doesn’t keep your passwords, so keep them securely on your side.

After that, you set the notification settings for this restore plan. You can either use the settings already set for the company or create custom notification settings. Also, do not forget to set whether you want to notify a user of backup jobs and add an entry to the Windows Event Log when the backup completes or fails.

After you have entered all the required information, press Save and your restore plan will be created.

Conclusion

Now you know how to perform image-based backup and recovery in MSP360 Managed Backup Service to create an image of your machine, and to roll back to its current state in the event of a disaster. Even in a worst-case scenario, with properly implemented and managed image-based backups, the downtime can be significantly reduced.

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